By Stephanie Star Smith
April 17, 2003
We here at BOP are an eclectic group, and our tastes in movies run from the serious cinephiles to the foreign-film aficionados to niche film lovers. Thus was born the idea for this weekly column, devoted to horror films of all shapes and sizes, but concentrating on those B- and C-grade films that mainstream reviewers disdain, but are the bread-and-butter of every spook movie lover's viewing. So come with me as we venture beyond the slimy wall, uncovering the treasures - and burying the time-wasting bombs - that await those who dare to love the scare.
For my first review, I thought I'd cover this nifty little film that first brought Charles Band, producer extraordinaire and the head of Full Moon Productions, to my attention. You'll be hearing more about Charles Band and Full Moon in the coming months; suffice it to say here that if you haven't caught any films from his production house, you're missing out on some great low-budget fare. Think of him as Roger Corman for the 21st century.
Blooddolls is that rarest of breeds: A horror film with an original premise. Although it could technically be included in the slasher sub-genre due to copious amounts of stage blood, this is about as far from Jason/Michael Myers and his ilk as Laurence Olivier's Hamlet is from the production at your local elementary school.
Blooddolls centers on Virgil Travis, reclusive billionaire inventor and a tortured soul. Born deformed (in a very cool way), Virgil has never known true love or friendship. Bitter and lonely, his genius has devised a unique way to wreak vengeance on his enemies and all he feels have betrayed him. Now, I won't give away how the Blooddolls come into being, but I will tell you that it's way cool, and the way in which he does battle with his most ferocious competitor is great fun. Add into the mix a mysterious butler, a dwarf, a captive all-girl rock band, and no fewer than three different endings to choose from, and you have an original film in a genre that too often relies on pale imitations of that which has gone before.
One advantage Band has with his films that Corman did not is the availability of impressive effects at relatively low cost. But like Corman, Band employs good writers, directors and actors in putting his vision on screen; he scrimps in the places where cheaper can be disguised in order to put the money into what will make or break the film for viewers, namely how the characters and plot are created, how the script is brought to life and how the film is shot. Possibly you've heard the phrase if it's not on the page, it's not on the stage; this also is true of films, and the better the script, the better the result, regardless of the relative inexpensiveness of the set decorations. By the same token, get wooden actors or the girlfriend of the caterer to direct your film and you might as well send it straight to MST3K.
But with a Full Moon Productions film, you know you're in for a good time. You may not care for the particular story, you might not like all the actors, but you won't be bored, and you won't sit there talking back to the screen and wishing Crow and Tom Servo were there. And Blooddolls is not only an excellent introduction to the Charles Band oeuvre, but a hoot-and-a-half to boot.
I see by the shadows falling from my bust of Pallus that our time is up. Until next time, then, when we will once again venture Beyond the Slimy Wall.