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Plastic Fantastic

by Drew Rowsome

Halloween is just around the corner and at The Spirit of Halloween mega-store I found a perfect present for my eccentric aunt. The old dear collects misfit, damaged or downright creepy dolls that, she claims, would otherwise never find a home. Personally I think she also enjoys their company and, like most of us, they are a reminder that all misfit toys (and people) eventually find their place. I brought the doll - and it is a delightfully disturbing thing - home and then hesitated before shutting it in the cupboard for eventual wrapping. Would it be lonely? Afraid in the dark? An inanimate object has managed to make me feel as if it were animate and capable of emotions. Now that is a creepy feeling to have just before Halloween.

The subjects in the documentary Living Dolls seem to have no doubts that their dolls - and their massive collections - are emotional beings, and they chat happily about their relationships with the plastic creations. The mood veers wildly from creepy to hilarious and one empathizes and then recoils laughing. The scenes where Michael transforms a Barbie into a robot for inclusion in his ongoing film project The Sex Life of Robots made me wince, but not more so than when Mike told his long-suffering partner Anibal that their relationship was definitely polyamorous with Barbie, or one of his thousands of Barbies, being the polys. David is more monogamous and the film follows he and his life-sized designed-for-sex doll Bianca as they head to a convention, "There should be close to 20 people there." The B&B's owners description of the conventioneers is a priceless comic monologue climaxing with, "The world is made up of all sorts of people."

The characters, like the subjects in Kink, spend a lot of time justifying themselves and their collecting (aka hoarding - Michael's workshop/living space is a horror film all of its own). Mike, being gay he seems the most self-aware and balanced, tells the camera of how he came out of the closet as a Barbie aficionado, and Michael explains his film - the snippets are fascinating if disturbing - as, "It's not sex. It's like literature, you can write about it but it's not real." The sex part is obviously real for Michael who, sometimes in Bianca's squeeky voice, does an inspired riff on why doll clothing is an important part of collecting - other than to hide the stains.

Alas, just as I was getting involved in the storyline involving the sad heterosexuals Debbie and Colin who are trying to deal with the fact that their children are starving because Debbie spent all their money and savings on dolls and doll clothes, my Shockwave player crashed and the screener went dark. Fortunately Living Dolls screens on Global this weekend so I will be able to find out what happens. Audiences may not get to understand fully how dolls can become an obsession or a sexual outlet but Living Dolls is the most uproarious creepy fun since Karen Black in Trilogy of Terror.  

Living Dolls airs Sat, Oct 5 at 9pm on Global and on Logo on Mon, Nov 4. makinmovies.ca

 

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