Dangerous Worry Dolls (2008)

dw1Dangerous Worry Dolls (2008)
AKA Dangerous Chucky Dolls, Deadly Chucky Dolls – Puppen des Todes (Germany)

Starring Jessica Morris, Meredith McClain, Cheri Themer, Deb Snyder, Anthony Dilio, Susan Ortiz, Ker’in Hayden, Paul Boukadakis, Renata Green-Gaber, Rebekah Crane

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Very low.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Full Moon regularly trades in all kinds of depraved genre cinema, but for some reason I never expected a “women in prison” film from them, let alone one in 2008! And it’s a well-made film that doesn’t lean too hard into exploitative nudity? I’m shocked! Dangerous Worry Dolls is that and more, as I found it to be an effective and adequate horror movie as well. All I knew going into this one was the skull-headed doll coming out of a box on the cover of the DVD, so I had no reason to expect anything other than yet another variation on Puppet Master. But it’s surprisingly not like Puppet Master at all, instead pulling something of a bait and switch and delivering a possession horror flick rather than the 1,983,348th Full Moon film about killer dolls (although, it is kind of about killer dolls).

As the film opens, a group of inmates led by Kim (Meredith McClain) torture our lead, Eva (Jessica Morris). They want her to run drugs for them, but Eva is resisting. Kim always gets her way, though, and Eva’s life in the slammer is anything but rehabilitative. This all changes one day when her daughter comes to visit and gives her a small box containing Guatemalan Worry Dolls. You’re supposed to tell the dolls your worries and place them under your pillow before bed, and then the dolls take your worries away. In the film, Charles Band takes this idea and runs with it, creating one of his most cohesive and fun films of the 2000s.

dangerousworrydolls_2That’s not to say that Dangerous Worry Dolls doesn’t descend pretty deep into depravity, though. There’s the obligatory shower scene, and more female inmates strutting around in their underwear than would ever be plausible. All of that pales in comparison to the sadistic, rapist guard who bends down to smell his dildos before strapping one on and stroking it as a look of extreme pleasure washes over his face as he prepares to rape Eva. In many of Band’s films, I would say that these extremes are there simply to titillate and shock, serving little other purpose. In Dangerous Worry Dolls, because the story is so simple and strong, these moments also work to provide the character with the extreme motivations she needs to finally take matters into her own hands. Arguably, she’s not the one pulling the strings at that point (because the dolls have possessed her), but it still works rather well.

dangerousworrydolls_3What surprised me even more was the acting. I found the entire cast to be great all around, anchored especially by an excellent performance from Jessica Morris. She’s in many of the modern Full Moon films, and I always look forward to her appearances. Her work is Dangerous Worry Dolls is perhaps her finest moment for the company, as she really digs into the role and lights up the screen. Morris takes the character from meek and average to possessed and driven, and it’s a joy to watch. It’s fortunate that they cast her in this role, because it takes a considerable amount of quality acting to make you forgive the fact that they chose to manifest the possession via a huge zit-like wound on her forehead.

dangrerousworrydolls_1And this zit-like wound is going to be a deal breaker for many, because more often than not it looks ridiculous. There’s no way around it, it’s pretty laughable. I never minded it because I was invested in the story, and it helps that I actually like and enjoy cheesy FX, too. But that all being said, a good portion of the time this zit-thing is pretty awesome. Like, a “little skull doll crawling out of a forehead” awesome. The effect is incredibly well-realized and looks excellent. I loved every shot of that little angry skull opening its mouth and screaming. If Full Moon is looking for movies to make sequels to, I’d definitely be pumped for another one involving this dude.

Dangerous Worry Dolls isn’t a believable film, but if you’re coming to something like this asking for believability you shouldn’t be watching B-Movies. That being said, it does create a world within the prison, albeit a shallow one, and it is pretty true to the rules it sets up. I loved Dangerous Worry Dolls and I think anyone who enjoyed any of the more recent Full Moon films and missed this one should definitely check it out.

Next week on Full Moon Tuesday, I’ll be venturing deep into the back catalog to review 1977’s sex comedy musical version of Cinderella!

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