Review – Living Doll

March 30, 2008

living-doll.jpgAll filmmakers thinks about the question – “what does it take to make an edgy film?”  And subject matter seems to be the easiest (read “cheapest”) way to do this.  Todd Solontz (Happiness), I believe, was the first to attempt to make a child molester sympathetic, and that was seen as edgy in the day (Me, I just think it’s sick).  Before that though, there were sporadic attempts to make necrophilia sympathetic.  Yes, really.

 Jorg Buttgereit’s Nekromantik had too much “German documentary” feel about it to enjoy (if “enjoy” can be a term to refer to these films).  Would there ever be, I wondered, a good film dealing with the problems of the necrophiliac?  Apparently the answer is no, because I just finished with the eye wash after watching Living Doll.

The short synopsis: It’s Christmastime in the Big Apple. Nebbish coroner’s assistant/med school student Howard (Mark Jax, the poor man’s John Cusack) is in love with Christine (Katie Orgill) who sells flowers in the building he works in.  She doesn’t know he exists, though, so the love is unrequited.  One lucky(?) night, Christine ends up in the morgue, where Howard gets a Great Idea…instead of throwing away a perfectly good dead white woman like that, bring her home and develop a relationship with her!  We then get a good dose of decent makeup FX, scenes of outwitting the landlady (Eartha Kitt, slumming), scenes of dealing with the troublesome maggot and rat problems besieging our happy couple…you get the picture.

I blame this atrocity mostly on one of the co-directors, George Dugdale (Peter Litten being the other).  He helped write the screenplay, along with Mark Ezra. It was produced in the UK, where I gather one can get money to do these sort of films more easily, and was produced by Dick Randall, a noted exploitation producer (and his last film).  The movie is too sick to be considered “so bad it’s good”, too slickly produced to be a real Grindhouse film, too relationship-oriented to be a horror film (they even put in a revenge plot to have a little bit more conflict in the film). Just a disaster all round.

The only actor that comes off looking good in this film is Gary Martin (playing it slightly gay: in one scene he can be seen wearing a “Little Shop of Horrors” play tour jacket).  The most thankless job in this movie was Katie Orgill’s role of Christine.  Little more than a spectacular nude body (that they show off a lot – you want more than that, go rent the movie, you sick fuck) and a vehicle for the progressively more decayed makeup, I can picture her being so pissed at her underuse that the had to get another actor (Nicola Turner) to finish the role.  I do have to give these guys props for actually shooting some New York footage to make it seem like it’s set in New York, rather than going the Slime City route and not showing New York at all.

Funniest part of the movie: There’s a music cue used in it that was also used in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil!  I laughed hard at that, but other than that, this shitty film has nothing.

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