Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Dolls


Yeah, it's Thursday, and I'm much later than usual with my entry for Thursday Movie Picks, the wonderful weekly event hosted by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves. See, what had happened was, my daughter was in a reminiscing mood and brought out a baby doll from when she was a whole lot younger. This was one of those things that's supposed to look like a real baby, but doesn't quite get it right. On top of that, it's life-sized and that just makes it extra creepy. Anyhoo, my daughter kinda thrust it towards my face without any warning so I spent the next twelve hours cowering in a corner and only able to utter whimpers and sobs.

Maybe not.

But there's no denying, at least by me, that a great number of dolls are scary. It's no wonder they've often been the subject of horror movies. And that's our topic for today. Hmm...I think I can do this.

Magic
(1978)
A young Anthony Hopkins plays Corky, a magician who's decided to become a ventriloquist because his act is doing too well. He picks up a dummy named Fats and, next thing you know, things are looking up for Corky, way up. Unfortunately, he can't control Fats and is pretty soon doing whatever the dummy says. And that ain't a good thing. I first saw this on TV when I was a kid and was thoroughly freaked out. Of course, Anthony Hopkins would go on to have the same effect on me many years later with his iconic turn in The Silence of the Lambs. If I should ever cross paths with him, me running in the other direction while screaming is a distinct possibility.

Puppet Master
(1989)
A bunch of psychics have all shown up a secluded hotel for some reason I can't remember. As if that weren't crazy enough, this group of folks is being hunted down by a group of killer puppets. Tiny puppets, at that. I stumbled across this one on late-night cable back in the early 90s and had a blast watching. Lead puppet Blade has become something of a cult icon, and with good reason. As a bit of trivia, his design i based on legendary actor Klaus Kinski.

Saw
(2004)
By now, you're probably familiar with the premise of the Saw. A sanctimonious nutjob named Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) kidnaps unsuspecting people he deems unworthy of the gift of life and places them in some elaborate death trap they have little chance of surviving. All the while he, or his minions later in the series, are tucked away at some remote location. If you've not actually seen any of the movies you may not know that Jigsaw plays recordings of his voice for his victims through a creepy bike-riding puppet.




16 comments:

  1. I got a chuckle out of your intro. Some of those baby dolls really are creepy things.

    Well I've only seen the first of these and we match on it!! Magic is an unsettling film blessed with a first rate cast especially considering it's a scare flick. They were surely attracted by the behind the scenes talent (Sir Richard Attenborough in the director's chair and the book and screenplay written by William Goldman). It's been a long time since I've watched it what with Halloween coming I should give it another look.

    I seriously doubt I'll watch your second pick and I know with absolute certainty wild horses couldn't get me to watch one second of any of the Saw movies.

    Magic came to me right away and my second was one I stumbled across and knew it would work but I had to reach for a third which went in a different direction.

    Magic (1978)-When ventriloquist assistant Corky Withers (Anthony Hopkins) makes his first public performance alone he’s a bust. Afterward he’s given a dummy, Fats to work with. Slowly he improves and eventually is approaching the big time but something strange is happening, Fats seems to be taking control of not only their act but Corky’s actions. Feeling uneasy he takes a break at a cottage owned by his childhood sweetheart Peggy Ann Snow (Ann-Margret) where the hoped for relief doesn’t come but thanks to Fats things become increasingly dire. Creepy and unsettling. Notorious for having its initial TV preview pulled after a massive series of complaints that it was too frightening for children.

    Attack of the Puppet People aka I Was a Teenage Doll (1958)-Mad doctor is lonely for companionship so he invents a machine that shrinks people to miniature size. When he pulls the trick on his secretary and her boyfriend they desperately try to discover a way to escape and once again return to normal size. Strictly drive-in stuff with a budget to match but John Hoyt gives it everything he’s got as the wacko professor with the human doll collection.

    Magnificent Doll (1946)-Dolley Payne Todd (Ginger Rogers!?) is a young widow living in 17th century Philadelphia when she meets two men with great futures, Aaron Burr (David Niven) and James Madison (Burgess Meredith). Both court her but she picks Madison and from that point on according to this history is decided by two lovesick puppies quarreling over the supposedly Magnificent Doll. Ginger, completely at sea, obviously thinks the way to portray one of the Great Ladies of History is to declaim rather than speak her lines and act as if she were made of wood throughout this stately bore. A horror show of another kind and a real disservice to its subject perhaps the most vibrant, interesting woman of revolutionary times who did have tremendous influence on events just not in the drippy, empty way shown here.

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    1. I've only seen the one we match on. Attack of the Puppet People sounds like loads of fun. Might have to see if I can find that one.

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  2. I've seen Saw which is a fun film though I felt the franchise got a little ridiculous as it went on with the gore. I don't remember if I've seen The Puppetmaster. I will say that I will have some very fucked-up picks for next week's list.

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    1. Yeah, the Saw movies did get out of hand as the later entries seem to be all about gore. However, that would make them great picks next week. Can't wait to see what you have cooked up.

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  3. We matched on Puppet Master! I didn't think anyone else was going to pick that. It really freaked me out as a kid.

    I stand by the first two Saw movies, I enjoyed those two a lot. I've never seen Magic.

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    1. It's a great pick!

      The first two Saw movies are clearly the class of the series.

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  4. Magic is a film I have always wanted to see since it came out. I remember being freaked out just by the trailers. Now, the 2nd film sounds like one of those bad horror flicks from the fifties.I don't think I will see it and I won't see Saw. Creepy dolls are just from another dimension. Did you know that in good ole Victorian era, when rich people lost a child, some would have a doll recreated in their child's likeness? Creepy

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    1. I am definitely recommending Magic. I have heard that before about that era. And yeah, that's just beyond creepy.

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  5. I haven't seen Saw in ages but I really loved it.

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  6. I remember liking Magic, definitely an underseen Hopkins performance.

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  7. The Saw doll is nightmare inducing.

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  8. So I have to ask...have you seen Dolls from 1987? Not a great one, but worth tracking down.

    Also worth seeing is Dead of Night (1945), an anthology horror film that concludes with a short that seems to be the natural parent of Magic.

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    1. I have not seen Dolls. I've heard of it, but never bothered. I might have to check it out. Same for Dead of Night.

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