Although filmed in 2014, writer/director Stephen Wolfe’s (10/31 Part 2) film Doll Factory is only now getting released. Which is surprising because while no classic it is miles ahead of many of the other killer doll films that have come out recently such as Annabellum: The Curse of Salem and Elves. The only feature so far from a director of segments for several anthologies including the upcoming 10/31 2 it’s a lightweight but energetic horror comedy
We start off in 1976. A couple of cops and an outrageously Afroed civilian face off against the killer dolls in the title factory. Then after a credit sequence stolen from the original Friday The 13th we move forward to the present day. Doll Factory gets off to a rough start with a Halloween Party sequence. It goes on way too long and contributes nothing but bad bro humour. Eventually, a group of party-goers heads out to mess with the occult. In the long-abandoned factory of course.
Only two of them, Kay (Nicole Elliott) and Mark (Justin Herman) make it out alive. A visit to the police station gets a very hostile response from an aged but still familiar Sheriff (Chris Fender). They turn to Kay’s nerd brother Melvin (Andy Palmer) who hacks a few databases to get details about the factory’s history. And the address of Darius Grumley (Boo Gay), the afro sporting doll fighter from the intro.
They get ready to stop the dolls and Yergor (Patrick Sane) the demon that controls them. He sends his minions into town to collect souls. It’s all going to end with a showdown at the factory, complete with dolls, demons and even a lightsaber.
Doll Factory features a very mixed bag of effects. There are some well-done gore gags offset by some obvious CGI blood. The dolls themselves are very crudely animated. They look like marionettes much of the time. With jaws that move but not in synch to the one-liners, they toss out. I’ll take that over the immobile dolls that appear out of nowhere and just stand there that we see in so many films lately. These at least have some of the crude charm of the early Puppet Master franchise.
Between that and the admittedly juvenile humour such as the dolls spraying a nasty goo out of their asses, Doll Factory manages to keep from dragging once we get out of the party. There may be a few too many dick jokes and stereotypical nerd Melvin is overplayed but it works for the most part. And Melvin’s uber nerdiness does set up the Star Wars-inspired finale quite nicely.
Doll Factory would have played a lot better if it had come out closer to when it was filmed. Some of the territory it covers has been pretty well done since then. As I said earlier, I’m at a loss as to why it didn’t, it’s an enjoyable if unremarkable B movie. And a better one than quite a few of the ones that were released in those years.
Doll Factory is available from Wild Eye Releasing on DVD and VOD. You can check the films Facebook page for more info.