Case Number 11115: Small Claims Court


Media Blasters // 1996 // 76 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 30th, 2007

The Charge

Deep in the woods lay an old puppet-master and he is very angry.

The Case

The latest Media Blaster Japanese import, under the Tokyo Shock brand, tells the story of a gang of criminals and their run-in with a kindly puppet master who turns homicidal when he's hit in the face with acid.

The gang have just made a huge score, and are toting a briefcase crammed full of stolen money after having killed someone to get it. Unfortunately, a young girl witnessed the violence and the criminals tracked her back to her home. There they corral her and her puppet-making father. The daughter is killed and the father gets a facial of battery acid. Dragging his charred ass back into the house, Dad makes a deranged pledge to visit vengeance back upon his attackers. To do this, he invokes a mysterious ritual -- perhaps not unlike the ritual used in Child's Play? -- and transfer his vendetta-soaked life force into a life-size doll he had been building, which, incidentally, looks just like his deceased daughter. The doll comes to life and stalks the killers, bumping them off one by one; a bunch of people have random sex; and then the movie ends.

Doll from Hell is okay, as generic horror movies go, with nothing save the weird, copious nudity and some god-awful gore effects differentiating it from any other disposable horror trash you'll run across. The plot is straightforward and offers zero surprises during its run. The doll comes to life -- and by "doll," I mean someone wearing a really corny mask -- and goes on a killing spree. There's a half-baked emotional confrontation between the killer doll and the lone surviving member of the puppet-master's family, but that borders on self-parody more than anything else.

The gore is minimal, and when the director does grow bold enough to give a closer look at the bloodshed, it's laughable. Some dude's eyeball is stabbed, but the fake head is obvious, its fakeness made even more obvious when the same dude is decapitated from a storm window (?!). Other kills include a variation of the four-fingered-anti-rape-eye-stab into the neck, an unseen bathtub slaying, and an in coitus impalement.

Speaking of coitus, I was surprised at the amount of boinking going on here. One of the gang members is a hornball with a more active libido than Charlie Sheen, who takes turns engaging in public, on-the-fly intercourse with a couple girls in the crew. These three can't get enough, penciling in time to shed all their clothes and get it on while in the forest and in the puppet master's know, in those few minutes between vicious killings. Same thing happens towards the end of the film when the conflicted gang leader is taken advantage of by one of his comrades, who proceeds to saddle up and take him for a spin while he lies prone on a dinner table. Gratuitous to the extreme.

There you have it; sex, fake heads, and a boring story. If that sounds like your cup of sake, knock yourself out. This is the kind of film I'll completely forget in a few weeks, and it will forever languish sandwiched between Style Like a Pro and Extreme Chickfights in my basement.

A disappointing non-anamorphic widescreen transfer and 2.0 stereo Japanese audio track (with English subtitles) are buttressed by a six-minute making-of featurette.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile
Studio: Media Blasters
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

* English

Running Time: 76 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Making-of Featurette
* Trailers

* IMDb