Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Living Doll (1990)
Mondo Macabro | Buy LIVING DOLL at Amazon.com | Review by Dan Taylor

LIVING DOLLFor those of you who didn't get enough corpse-loving fun from CORPSE BRIDE, NEKROMANTIK or its sequel, Mondo Macabro has unleashed the oddball LIVING DOLL (the second installment of its Dick Randall Collection), yet another tale of the living loving the dead. (Check out our review of Dick Randall Collection Vol. 1: FRENCH SEX MURDERS.)

Howard (Mark Jax) is a shy, med student/morgue assistant obsessed with Christine (Katie Orgill), the gal who runs the hospital's flower shop. Though he longs to ask her out, his life is complicated by fellow morgue attendant Jess (Gary Martin) and Mrs. Swartz (Eartha Kitt), his loud, mean, aging lesbian landlord. Oh yeah, he's also a total dork ass nebish.

When Christine turns up dead in the morgue, it's all too much for Howard to take. He digs up her body, transports her to his pad (in the passenger seat of Jess's Trans-Am no less), and starts having the life with her that he had always imagined. They "eat" dinner together, share the happenings of their day, watch the tube and even cuddle on the couch. Hell, it'd be the perfect relationship were it not for the fact that Christine is grotesquely decaying, giving off a rank odor, and attracting everything from maggots to rats.

Supremely sick and twisted (a gooey, open-mouthed corpse kiss is but one skeevtastic moment), LIVING DOLL comes off like a too long episode of HBO's 'Tales from the Crypt.' The whole flick is packed with a sleazy 80s/90s vibe, from Jess's Trans Am and 'Little Shop of Horrors' jacket to the shots of Times Square the way it used to be, complete with flashing marquee's, XXX bills and go-go joints. More than that, though, the whole flick has a moist, sickly feel to it.

Quite frankly, everybody in the film – dead and alive – is pale with a ghastly complexion and seems to go through some sort of transformation. Howard becomes more alive as his relationship with the dead gal progresses (they even "formalize" their relationship by taking part in a TV wedding), Jess becomes less of a prick and more like a true friend, and the sweet Christine turns into a vengeful, well, corpse.

LIVING DOLL is tough to recommend. Sure, it's a sick and sleazy slice of cinema that I probably would've loved to have seen on the screen of some inner-city shoebox back in the late 80s or early 90s. But sitting at home and watching it on my TV, though, sorta depressed me. The word "melancholy" comes to mind as you're watching it, as there's very little emotional or visual kick to make the film enjoyable.


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