In 1996, nine college students headed off for a fun weekend at a lake house on Horse Creek. At the house they uncovered the horrific story of Dorchester Stewart, also known as Crinoline Head, and his doll-maker mother, who once lived in the house. That weekend six students were killed, two survived and one went missing. Now twenty years later, one of the survivors, Paul Donner, is teaching at the college he once attended. When his students discover an old newspaper article about the tragedy, they decide to visit the old lake house to learn more about Crinoline Head. While looking for answers, they discover something much more terrifying.
In the Slasher film, DOLLFACE - When University Professor, Paul Donner. assigns his class a report on the town's local leaders and legends, he expected the students to pick the more common persons of subject. However he didn't expect one of the subjects to be very familiar to him. This comes about, when two of his students, David and James, choose to base their project on someone, who has became a legend in the town, over a 20 year period. For most of the people in the town, he is merely an Urban Legend of sorts, but for Paul Donner, one Dorchester Stewart is very real. Because, some 20 years earlier, both Paul and his ex-wife, Robin, narrowly escaped with their lives, as they watched Stewart, viciously slaughter a group of their friends. As Young boy, Dorchester Stewart, while staying with his doll maker mother, watched as she succumbed to a heart attack. Left alone, Dorchester turned to cannibalism as a means for survival. When the authorities found the boy, also found, was the half- eaten corpse of his long-dead mother. As Police took away the now crazed Dorchester, he took with him the crinoline skirt belonging to his mother, which she was using to make a doll's dress, when tragedy struck. For years, Dorchester stayed locked up in a mental institution, which he escaped when he turned 18, when wearing the crinoline skirt on his head. This earning his the name, "Crinoline Head". After his escape from the asylum, his story became the stuff of legend, but in 1994, Paul Donner and his friends came face to face with Crinoline Head, when it was revealed that one within their group of friends, was actually Dorchester Stewart, himself, now living under a new name. Paul Donner, watched as many of his friends died, and has since struggled moving on with life, even losing his marriage, and trying his hand at writing a book on his experience(which also failed). For years, he has tried to put the past behind him, however, the subject seems to keep resurfacing. However he doesn't stop David and James from pursuing their project. But perhaps he should have. Because soon David, James, and a pair of lady friends head out to find the old Stewart place. Once they arrive at the location, they find out by way of the land's outspoken, redneck groundskeeper, Betsy, that the summer lake house, once owned by the Stewarts, has since burned down, leaving nothing but an adjacent building left standing on the property. They decide to camp out before further exploring the grounds. But it is when they do, that they get more than what they bargained for. When David, and one of the girls, Shelby go looking around for proof, they are shocked to find that the building has been left full of trinkets belonging to the killer. David believed that the items found, would be the closest, both he and James would ever get to encountering the man, who is the subject of his project. However, that couldn't be further from the truth, because in reality, it is revealed that Dorchester Stewart, also known as Crinoline Head, has long been lying in wait for his next batch of casualties(and when another carload of classmates arrive unexpectedly, the number seemingly grows). While still wearing the white crinoline skirt on his head - albeit this time, also with a dollface mask, Crinoline Head takes out the group of teens, one by one, in a variety of ways. With no end in sight, and with no hope of anyone surviving, Paul Donner, eventually arrives on the scene for one final showdown with the man he most fears, in hopes of saving the day.
About 3 months back, if you remember, I reviewed Writer/Director Tommy Faircloth's fun Horror Comedy called CRINOLINE HEAD from 1994. In the review, I had mentioned that I had been contacted about reviewing the film's sequel, but first I wanted to see the original(because I hadn't yet). Well, if you read that review, then you know just how much I loved CRINOLINE HEAD, and that I was looking forward to the sequel. Well, it is indeed that time, as DOLLFACE is upon us, and will be out on DVD and VOD on September 15.
I guess the first thing that should be said here, is that on the surface, DOLLFACE works as both a sequel and a reboot of the original film. Originally titled DORCHESTER'S REVENGE : THE RETURN OF CRINOLINE HEAD, DOLLFACE begins with sort of a prologue, which takes us back to July of 1980. Here we find young Dorchester Stewart, and his mother, Mary. They are at their late house, when Mary, a doll maker becomes the victim of a heart attack. After her death, we see that Dorchester is left all alone. We also find that in order to survive the summer months, he has had to resort to eating his own mother. The segment ends with the boy being taken in by officials. Anyone who has seen the original film, CRINOLINE HEAD, will be very familiar with this opening tale. In the original film, the legend of Dorchester Stewart(aka CRINOLINE HEAD), was only told to us via "campfire tale" fashion, around the breakfast table. We never actually see the event. So with this in mind, It's a good thing that Faircloth was able to go back and re-introduce the character to us in this way, with this film. I do get the feeling that he always had wanted to do this, but just maybe, did not have the budget to do it way back when. But personally, I felt that it was an ideal way to open the film, thus sending the new story on it's way. Which brings me to the rest of the story, which DOLLFACE consists of. What follows, is just your average teen slasher film, one in which a group of victims end up at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and end up getting hacked to pieces, by a masked killer, who has made a miraculous return. However, that is not to say that the film isn't well done.
When it comes to CRINOLINE HEAD and DOLLFACE, in comparison, the two are very different films. While CRINOLINE HEAD was shot on 16mm, rough around the edges, and was filled to the brim with outrageousness, DOLLFACE is one that is polished, and more balanced, clearly showing signs of a filmmaker, now more experienced. It's been 20 plus years since a young Tommy Faircloth cranked out CRINOLINE HEAD. Since then, he has made a few other films, and has gained more filmmaking experience. That is apparent here, as this film is more precisely staged and handled. In terms of technicals, shot selection and the like, everything is much more refined, and more competent. And if you are wondering about the brand of humor that made CRINOLINE HEAD so great, it is still here in DOLLFACE, only this time time, it's not as abundant, and not as fun, nor is it as over the top. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some fun moments in the film. The stuff involving a trio of drag queens is good, and the stuff involving veteran Horror actress Debbie Rochon's redneck groundskeeper character, "Betsy", is great. But in terms as this one being an all-out Horror Comedy like the first one, DOLLFACE is far more tame, in favor of being a much more straight forward Slasher flick.
The acting in the film, i'd say is above average, as the film is anchored by a couple of very good performances, by more experienced Actors, which even things out. The film's star attraction is of course,the great Debbie Rochon. Rochon has been a mainstay of the Horror genre for awhile now, and like she has on many occasions, here brings a level of credibility to the film. Her performance is fun, as she plays a foul-mouthed redneck named "Betsy"(star spangled bandanna, and all). The other great performance comes from Actor Jason Vail, as college Professor, Paul Donner. I had previously saw Vail in a film that I reviewed a couple years ago, called GUT. From that film, I remember being impressed with him, and taking note of how likable his presence was. Here, I feel no different as Vail is again very likable as he portrays a college Professor whom has seen some rough times. The rest of the film's young cast are all decent, although I have to say that besides, maybe a couple of them, no one truly stands out. Although, I do have to say that I would have much rather seen Actress Leah Wiseman as the film's young lead female, as opposed to the nerdy, outcast sidekick.
The big thing for me when it comes to this film, is the fact that it shows Tommy Faircloth's growth as a filmmaker, in just about every aspect. But, while I did enjoy the fact that this film looks and sounds better than CRINOLINE HEAD, and the fact that in this film, the titular character from the original, is portrayed by a much more intimidating and imposing figure in Actor John Kapp, I did, however, miss the off-beat nature of its predecessor. I missed the outrageous comedy that was the result of both crazy dialogue, and the bizarre predicaments, in which the characters found themselves in. With it's comedy elements stripped down, DOLLFACE, plays out like the familiar, slightly above average Slasher flick. One that is nicely executed, yet still very routine overall.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
WHITE RABBIT is a good film that should have been better. It has the potential to be. However it is the film's ending(which is my only major complaint) that really brings it down a notch. Overall, I do recommend it, as it is definitely worth a watch.
This film will be released on Video on Demand and DVD, on September 15, 2015