Directed by Ted Nicolaou
Expectations: I don’t expect much, but I hope it’s fun.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
Ragdoll is a pretty fun, voodoo/black magic themed horror movie, but I wouldn’t hold it against you if you didn’t make it past the first couple of minutes. The film’s lead character is Kwame (Russell Richardson), but Ragdoll starts with a flashback intro, showing us a moment in the childhood of Kwame’s grandma. Her mother — Kwame’s great grandmother — was a practitioner of the black arts, and apparently she made a bad deal with the Shadow Man. Due to this, Kwame’s grandmother witnessed her mother’s murder by an agent of the Shadow Man, in this case, a haunted dress. It’s as scary and convincing as it sounds; it looks like someone is just off-screen with a fishing pole waving the dress around.
I thought this traumatic moment might cause Kwame’s grandmother to live a life free of the dark arts, but no! When we flash-forward to the present day, we learn that dear ol’ Gran is indeed a dabbler in the occult, she just does so with a supreme respect and knowledge of what might happen if she isn’t careful with how she conducts her dealings with the other side. Kwame, though, has had no such trauma in his life, so when his up-and-coming rap group (called KT Bounce) is forced into a managerial contract with a ruthless gangster, Big Pere (William Stanford Davis), he seeks the help of the Shadow Man to fight his battles.
It always seems like Charles Band skimps on the FX budget, and Ragdoll is no different. But thankfully, the FX work is much like the acting: mostly good with a few bad spots. The Ragdoll puppet used for close-ups has good articulation and is a well-designed character. It starts its life as a simple ragdoll, but after the Shadow Man pours his killing magic into it, the face looks evil and devious. Perhaps I’m just easily amused, but I really liked its look. The FX guys also managed to make the Ragdoll convincingly run away from the camera, and, in one of my favorite moments of the film, scratch a record.
Ragdoll was Charles Band’s attempt at appealing to a black audience, but since there wasn’t a sequel I’m going to guess it didn’t do that well. It’s a shame, too, because it’s a pretty fun movie. I know I’d be down for another one!
I’ll leave you with my favorite line: “You tryin’ to show your balls? OK, I see the big motherfuckin’ things! Now tuck ’em back in, why don’t you!”
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be watching the final Empire production left to review (barring unreleased stuff eventually coming out): David DeCoteau’s Dr. Alien! See ya then!