Digi-Schlock: DOLLS (Scream Factory Blu-Ray)

If you ever fretted over the death of MGM’s loving treatment of horror catalog titles on DVD then you can take comfort in the fact that Scream Factory picked up that gauntlet for the blu-ray world.  Dolls is the latest example of an old MGM DVD fave receiving the Scream Factory high-def treatment and it offers a nice treatment for this cult fave.

Things begin on a positive note with a solid transfer.  There are some minor flaws in the source used here but the details are appropriately vivid, with a rich color palette and plenty of crisp details throughout.  Both 5.1 and 2.0 stereo mixes are offered with this transfer, both in lossless form.  The 5.1 track was used for this review and it’s a subtle affair Dolls-bluthat spreads the effects and music around a little in the rear channels.

Fans of the old MGM DVD will be happy to hear that its supplements are carried over here.  For starters, there are two commentary tracks.  The first pairs director Stuart Gordon with screenwriter Ed Naha.  The two have a nice rapport, with Gordon delivering a lot of details about the shoot while Naha adds plenty of wisecracks along with his observations on his storyline.  There’s plenty of fun trivia – like how the shoot traumatized Gordon’s kids and who did what effects in the doll-attack scenes – plus some thoughtful chat about the film’s fairytale sensibility and themes.  In short, it’s fun and educational.

The other track is devoted to the cast, featuring Carrie Lorraine, Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon and Stephen Lee.  It’s a fun, informal listen, spiked with plentiful jokes by Lee, but everyone has something interesting to say about the shoot.  Williams reveal how he had to refashion his performance when he suddenly became a trophy husband instead of a rich one, Lorraine talks about Gordon’s love of scaring her during dailies and Purdy-Gordon reveals she and her daughter did most of the doll voices.  Like the other commentary, this hits a nice blend of fun and information.

Also carried Dolls-04over from the MGM DVD is eight and a half minutes of storyboard-to-film comparisons, highlighting three effects-intensive scenes.  The results show these scenes ended up pretty close to the storyboard versions.  There’s also a trailer that utilizes many of the film’s shock highlights while using cues from the score for Dressed To Kill (!), a 50 image gallery primarily devoted to stills and “more from Scream Factory” trailer area that includes spots for Pumpkinhead, Phantom Of The Paradise and Sleepaway Camp.

However, the key draw in terms of extras is a new featurette included by Scream Factory.  It’s called “Toys Of Terror” and includes interviews with Gordon, Naha, Purdy-Gordon, Williams, producers Charles Band and Brian Yuzna and a few members of the FX team.  BDolls-05and starts things off with an interesting discussion of how video-driven Empire Films’ business was in the mid-’80s and then goes on to explore how the production was conceived, thoughts on the cast and some insights into the complex blend of effects styles that were combined for the FX scenes.  You’ll learn how the blend of fairytale elements and shocks was struggled with throughout the production process but ended with a result that everyone is proud of.  Naha caps things with an eloquently worded explanation of the film’s moral sensibility.  The resulting 38 minutes breeze by and fans will enjoy the array of stories it covers.

Simply put, Scream Factory’s edition of Dolls is well worth the upgrade for horror fans, offering a solid transfer and some quality extras.  It’s a nice little end-of-year treat for the monster kid lurking in your heart.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Dolls, click here.

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