By Dark Starr

Wild Eye Releasing has just unleashed the DVD of "Doll Killer" on the world. It's a new edition of a movie from 1987 that came from director Dustin Ferguson who gave us such cult classics as "Amityville in the Hood" and "Nemesis 5."

There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie that tells the viewer that the only copy they had was somewhat damaged, and therefore this video will have some glitches due to that source media. If those were the only problems with this, it would be fine because they are not that frequent and not as intrusive or annoying as you might imagine. In fact, they lend a certain retro charm in some ways. 

The fact is, this movie comes close to being what I would consider good, but ultimately it misses. Let's look at some things it has going for it first. The whole main premise (more on that later) reminds me a little of the original "Halloween." There is actually a nod to "Halloween 3" when a boy's parents give him a Halloween mask from Shamrock. Some of the other scenes seemed like such an obvious nod to the original movie that I found myself thinking, "The Day He Came Home." 

The movie has some frightening scenes, and some down right creepy ones. While they don't really show the gore (probably due to lack of budget to do it justice), there are plenty of kills built into it. There is also a sense of mystery hoping to be resolved here. The lead actor does a pretty solid job, too. 

Now, to the things that drag this down. I'll work my way from the smaller issues up to the worst one. First, most of the acting is pretty bad. The thing is, you sort of expect that in an indie horror film, and it can almost add to the experience. 

Next up, there are three scenes here that should either be removed or drastically shortened. The first is the opening motif. That one shows a woman doing a dark incantation. That's the one I think should probably be cut down. It is important that we see her doing this ritual (to the subplot - more on that at the end), but it just goes on too long. We get all we need to learn from this prequel long before it's over. 

Then comes a scene of two of the female characters dancing. I mean, it's not completely out of character for them to be blowing off some steam and getting into the music. It adds nothing to characterization or the plot, though. It really made me think of the old "Sprockets" skit on "Saturday Night Live" to the point where I literally said, "This is the part where we dance," in my best Michael Myers doing a German accent imitation. Mind you, my best isn't that good, but you get the point. 

Then later there is another scene of a couple wandering around a pumpkin patch, corn maze and haunted attraction. It's set to some solid 80s hard rock music, and really feels like a music video. I didn't actually mind that part because the music was good enough, but it's clearly unnecessary filler to the movie. 

Now, all of those things could have been largely ignored had the movie made sense. The biggest problem is, we get some good scenes, but then there are scenes that simply confuse the viewer. At one point it really looks like one of the characters is killed, well, it's a bit unclear (can't go into too much detail without turning it into a spoiler) in the way it's shown, but at least it appears the character is seriously wounded. Yet, beyond that scene we see that character again, seemingly unharmed. 

Then there are the dolls. The main plot of the movie plays out basically like a slasher film, but there are dolls placed on each body. At the end of the movie there is a "Twilight Zone" sort of twist that could have worked brilliantly if it had been more fully explained and built upon. As it is, it just comes across as a plot hole and something that takes away from the movie. 

This DVD release is pretty basic. The only bonus features are some trailers for other films. That said, they claim the scene selection option as a bonus, but that's a standard feature of pretty much every DVD out there. Overall, this has some promise. It has some intriguing stuff and some scary moments. All of those make the fact that the plot makes no sense and is full of holes that much more frustrating.