(director: Stuart Gordon; screenwriter: Ed Naha; cinematographer: Mac Ahlberg ; editor: Lee Percy; music: Fuzzbee Morse; cast: Carrie Lorraine ( Judy Bower), Guy Rolfe (Gabriel Hartwicke), Hilary Mason (Hilary Hartwicke), Ian Patrick Williams (David Bower), Carolyn Purdy-Gordon (Rosemary Bower), Cassie Stuart (Enid), Bunty Bailey (Isabel), Stephen Lee (Ralph); Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Brian Yuzna ; Empire Pictures; 1987)

Rather tedious.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Cult director Stuart Gordon (“Stuck”/”Edmond”/”King of the Ants”) directs his follow-up to Re-Animator (1985), which fails to capture that film’s imagination. Horror screenwriter Ed Naha hands in a perfuntorary script. The attempt at a splatter horror film presented as a morality play, like the fairy-tale Brothers Grimm, was rather tedious.

The innocent Judy (Carrie Lorraine) is a sad seven-year-old girl traveling through England during the summer with her abusive father (Ian Patrick Williams) and her new detested bitchy stepmother (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon). Their car gets stuck in the mud during a storm at night, on a country road, when they try avoiding another car. Therefore they seek shelter in a nearby gloomy old mansion. Gabriel Hartwicke (Guy Rolfe) is the genial elderly house owner, who is a doll-maker. His similarly eccentric wife is Hilary (Hilary Mason), who gladly makes her guests feel welcome. Also seeking shelter are the nice guy driver (Stephen Lee) of the other car stuck on the road and his two trampy hitch-hikers (Cassie Stuart & Bunty Bail).

The doll maker befriends Judy and gives her a tour of his doll collection.

During the night the dolls sense the two hitchhikers are planning to rob the house and the little dolls turn malevolent, doing a gory number on them.

The only thing chilling is the concept that the little dolls could display rage and violence like humans.