Dollman (1991) – or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Full Moon Films

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Tim Thomerson is the B-movie seal of quality. No matter where he is, you can rely on him to take everything seriously, but with a little twinkle in his eye that lets you know he’s enjoying himself with whatever oddball plotline this film has. As you may have guessed from the title and the poster above these words, he has plenty of opportunities to do so in this.

10,000 light years from Earth is planet Arturos, and Thomerson is Brick Bardo, a cop with an attitude – imagine Dirty Harry, but an even bigger asshole. It seems you can blow a lot of body parts off someone on this world and they can stay alive, so no-one seems especially surprised when Brick’s nemesis is revealed to be a head, mounted on a sort of flying platform. Anyway, they have a disagreement (floaty head is annoyed that Brick keeps shooting him, Brick is annoyed he keeps not dying) so there’s a fight and BRICK’S GUN IS AMAZING. He gets anywhere near you and you’re blowing up in a shower of bits and pieces. Anyway, the fight transfers to little flying car / spaceship things, through a wormhole and…he wakes up crashlanded on some industrial wasteground near New York!

Both hero and villain survive, but unfortunately their world is a bit different to ours, six times different to be precise. Brick is 13 inches tall on our world, and his gun isn’t quite as amazing as it is on Arturos, but he’s still able to help Debi Alejandro, a tough and brilliant young woman who’s trying to bring up a kid, hold down a tough job and fight against the gangs peddling drugs on the streets. Floaty Head helps the villains, obviously, led by Jackie Earle Haley, post-Bad News Bears and long-pre-Watchmen.

Without giving this film too much credit, it has a surprising amount to say about the world. Haley, while undoubtedly villainous, realises that the rest of the world doesn’t care about either him, Debi, or anyone else in the inner city, and has just chosen a different path. Debi’s attempts to organise a Neighbourhood Watch only really kick off when Brick starts killing the gang members, and the local cops obviously couldn’t care less.

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The special effects are actually pretty good. They get round their problems by rarely having Brick share the screen with anyone else, and although there’s an awful model shot in one scene, most of the time they handle things well. The end of Floaty Head is both shocking and hilarious.

All in all, thumbs up for this film. Fun, good action, and even though the Dimension Bomb at the end is a bit of an irrelevance, it all sort of made sense.

Allow me a slight diversion on the subject of Charles Band and Full Moon Films. I’ve reviewed quite a few of their films, and seen even more, but what surprises me is how he gets so much from so little. As much as I hated certain films in the Puppet Master series, the really bad ones weren’t directed by him; and in terms of producer credits, Band is as prolific as Roger Corman ever was. Often, he’ll make a low budget go a long way, and his films usually have a knowing wink to the genre-savvy audience – even though everyone on screen takes it seriously. That the “Puppet Master” films had none of that makes them baffling, but maybe I’m reading too much into them.

Making genre films is tough business, as no-one will turn on you faster than us nerds. That he’s been able to keep at it as long as he is testament to at least some understanding of what people want to watch; he’s never turned into a virtual porn merchant like Jim Wynorski either, and while some of his films aren’t that great, they’re at least entertaining enough to be worth a rental (virtual or otherwise).

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9 thoughts on “Dollman (1991) – or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Full Moon Films

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