Directed by Adam Sherman
Produced by James Hancock & Mikal Portnoi Lazarev
Written by Adam Sherman & Azazel Jacobs
Director of Photograpy Daniel Andrade
Music by Bobby Johnston
Cast: Romi Koch, Goran Dukic, Chris Karmiol & Ernst Grossner
2004/78 mins/Color/Dolby 2.0 Stereo
1.33:1 Full-frame/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
Covering an actual human being in plaster or some other substance in order to make them a statue is an idea which has been explored in cinema many times, in films such as HOUSE OF WAX and A BUCKET OF BLOOD. And as sick and twisted as that idea may sound, rarely has the premise been carried to the macabre heights that it reaches in the indie oddity DEAD DOLL.
To start, I'll relate the plot synopsis given on the back of the DVD box for DEAD DOLL: "A frustrated sculptor strangles his beautiful girlfriend and entombs her body into a lifelike doll. As her spirit lingers within her new body, she travels from one owner to the next, seducing men and luring them to their deaths." OK, some of the is true, but some is misleading. There is a sculptor, Riley (Goran Dukic), who makes either mannequins or elaborate sex dolls. (It's never fully explained in the film, but the fact that a character has sex with one of his creations, I've got to lean towards sex dolls.) And yes, he does kill his girlfriend, who is played by Romi Koch, whose name is never given. After doing this, he covers he body in an unknown substance, perfectly preserving her. After a mishap, the Doll passes through the hands of several owners, each of whom not only have sex with the doll, but also apply an individual personality to her. And, after doing this, each man meets a terrible fate. However, the supernatural elements implied by the synopsis from the box isn't present in the film, and most viewers will not feel that the Doll is alive in any way...well, let's say that most won't think that the Doll is acting maliciously.
To say that DEAD DOLL is a sick little puppy would be quite an understatement. The film is certainly not for general audiences, as it contains nearly constant nudity and some shockingly violent scenes. And yet, co-writer/director Adam Sherman and his co-writer Azazel Jacobs, have attempted to make DEAD DOLL more than simply an exploitation film, resulting in a movie that will frustrate some and pique the interest of others. This is not to imply that DEAD DOLL doesn't have the usual trappings of an exploitation film, because it does, as we having several characters humping this naked woman who can't move. If that's not exploitation, then I don't know what it is.
But, there's also something else happening in this movie. Every man who encounters the Doll reacts to it in a different way, outside of treating it as a sex object. Each of the men assign a personality to the Doll and these scenes are played out by having Koch actually move and talk, thus portraying the mental image of the Doll which the men have created. These aspects of the film reminded me of something that one would hear discussed in a women's studies class, as each man isn't complacent simply treating the Doll as a sex slave, but must project individual qualities onto her. What's even more interesting is that these traits aren't always perfect and some of the men see themselves being rejected by the Doll.
While DEAD DOLL may defy expectations, it also suffers from some problems. Despite the fact that the film is chock full of nudity and sexual acts, the movie is never titillating and the sex is treated with a general air of disgust. One may also be surprised to hear that the film is also quite dull at times, as there are long stretches of dialogue where the story becomes quite stagnant. The redundancy of the film (Doll going from one man to the next) also slows down the story. The acting is OK for the most part, and Koch does a great job of lying still and not blinking. But, when she’s asked to speak and act, things go downhill, as her nasally voice is quite distracting and her acting is never convincing. Those of you looking for a freaky sexual kick from DEAD DOLL will most likely be disappointed by the movie, but if the sexual politics angle sounds interesting, then it’s certainly worth a rental.
DEAD DOLL comes to DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment. The film is presented in a full-frame, 4:3, aspect ratio. Viewing the film, it’s clear that the movie wasn’t shot in this aspect ratio, as there’s a scene in which words on a TV screen are chopped off on the left and the end credits experience the same problem. The deleted scenes offered on this DVD are letterboxed at 1.78:1, so it looks as if the image was simply zoomed in upon and shifted to the left, cutting off that side of the frame. This problem aside, the image is somewhat sharp and clear, although there is some noticeable grain at times. The colors are good, and the black and grey tones look good. The image does show some problems with artifacting. The DVD carries a Dolby 2.0 stereo audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects, but offers nothing elaborate.
The DVD contains a few assorted extras. There are six “Deleted Scenes” (all of which are letterboxed at 1.78:1) which total eight minutes. There are galleries for “Stills” and “Storyboards”, as well as a one-frame gallery for the “Poster”. The extras are finished off by the trailer for DEAD DOLL, which is letterboxed at 1.78:1.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©