Friday, November 6, 2009

USA Saturday Nightmares: Living Dolls (1980)

I hate to sound like an old curmudgeon, but horror on cable television these days ain't worth jack. Back in the day, you could always count on late-night cable networks to pull out nearly all the stops and serve up something that was just as creepy as anything you could see in theaters.

The struggle for identity in the early days of the USA Network was particularly enjoyable. USA didn't know whether it wanted to make you laugh or freak you out, so you could always count on an eclectic variety of programming. However when it came to Saturday nights, USA followed in the proud tradition of the local affiliates of the major networks and reserved the nether hours following the late news for horror films.

And what great stuff that was, but USA didn't stop there. They kept the creepiness going on even during the commercial breaks with the introduction of short films and introduced a whole new facet of the medium to an appreciate audience.

One of the first movies that ever freaked me out as a kid was Living Dolls by Todd Coleman. It follows a day in the life of a poor guy named Melvin (Park Dougherty). Melvin works at a bridal shop as a janitor and sufferes the merciless slings and arrows of the condscending women that saunter in and out of his life.

One afternoon, Melvin decides that he has had enough and goes upstairs to the storage area above the shop. Since he doesn't quite have the courage to tell off the shop owner or the customers that make his life unbearable, he decides that he is going to practice being assertive on the mannequins first.

Little does Melvin realize that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned… even one made out of plaster.

There's certainly nothing in Living Dolls that you haven't seen in similar pieces of work (most noteably an episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "The After Hours"), but Coleman's attention to lighting, music, and setting really makes this short film something special.

I thought that Coleman would end up a big-time horror director, but the guy seems to have faded into obscurity. Thankfully, the online community has kept Living Dolls from suffering a similar fate.


Kapp said...

Whoa, someone finally posted this film on Youtube... thanks for posting this up.... I remember seeing this short film as a kid in the early 80's and it scared the heck out of me at that time...It was a memorable film and it was only within the last year or so that I found out the actual name of the film... From what I saw on the web, the director of this film made one other drama related short film, and then entered another field of work-real estate, if I remember correctly...However, I think most people who have seen this creepy short film remember it

Anonymous said...

First time I saw this film was 1990, 10 years after its release. Never heard of it, but once I saw it I never forgot it.