Dollman: The Official Nerfed Llamas Review – Urban F*cking Renewal Style
The party never stops on my month long tribute to the b-movie mecca that is Full Moon Features. After watching Bad Channels, I knew that I eventually needed to watch Dollman and Demonic Toys at some point, as they all converge into one über movie: Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys, which blends all three movies into one super sequel, similar to what Marvel Studios did pulling their films together to make the Avengers. This is just another way that Full Moon Features subtly innovates in the shadows, making a shared cinematic universe a thing before the A-list Hollywood studios did. Since then, Full Moon has merged the Evil Bong and Gingerdead Man franchises into a combine movie sequel as well. In the overall scheme things, one could probably successfully argue that all of the Full Moon Features are connected in a shared universe in one way or another.
What is Dollman? Dollman is about the universe hopping adventures of Brick Bardo, a cop with an attitude from the planet of Arturos. While chasing the villain responsible for killing his family, Bardo and his prey fly their space crafts through a brightly glowing energy band in outer space that teleports them light years away to the planet earth. Upon arriving to out planet in the urban jungle of the Bronx, Bardo finds out that he is only 13 inches tall by our standards. Even though he may be small, he still puts thugs, gang-bangers and drug peddlers in their place as he continues the search for his arch-nemesis and the reckoning that’s coming to him. Created by Charles Band (creator of Full Moon Features), and written by Chris Roghair, Dollman was directed by Albert Pyun (Bad Channels), and starred Tim Thomerson (Trancers, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, A Nightmare on Elm Street), Kamala Lopez (Born in East L.A., Total Recall – the good one), Frank Collison (O Brother, Where Art Thou), Judd Omen (Dune, Red Dawn – again, the good one), Eugene Robert Glazer (No Way Out, La Femme Nikita), and Nicholas Guest (Sons of Anarchy, and tons of quality voice acting work).
What I Liked in Dollman: Tim Thomerson. Period. The end. This man was made for the tongue-in-cheek nature of b-movies, much in the same way that Bruce Campbell makes everything he’s in better, so does Mr. Thomerson in a huge way. I can’t stress to you enough how much the Dollman and Trancers film, in large part due to Thomerson’s crack comedic timing, are 2 of the best franchises in the entire Full Moon catalog.
Frankly speaking, I loved the no nonsense approach that the film took in regards to gangs, urban violence, inner city struggles, and the effect that illegal drugs has had on low income communities. These are villains most foul. They murder, cause mayhem, sell illegal drugs to minors. They are not portrayed as misunderstood decent people just trying to make a living in the hood (like so many modern day films try to do… don’t get me started), they are shown as vile evil people only looking out for themselves so that they can attain power and money. Dollman does not pull any punches in regards to the social commentary on urban inner city life, and frankly it’s one of the key things that elevates this film to must own status. It is always a good thing when you can find a film that can put in a ton of absurd science fiction elements, but can still be relatable and human on a modern level. Kudos to the creative team behind this movie.
The special effects also deserve a mention, as they stand out as a cut above most Full Moon Features from that era. Sprug, the villain who is only a hovering head always looks really cool. The people that Bardo shoots explode exceptionally well. The amount of miniature to full size scale shots is significant, and the vast majority of them actually look good, all things considered. It’s a testament to what can be accomplished when talented and creative people work together, even on a limited budget. in many ways, it feels like Dollman was a lightening in a bottle kind of film for Full Moon.
What I Didn’t Like: There is absolutely nothing to dislike. Tim Thomerson is on point. The supporting cast does a tremendous job. The special effects, makeup, and miniature to full size scale photography is exceptionally sharp, especially when you consider the limited budget. This movie is an unmitigated b-movie success. Watch it now!
Bottom Line: Dollman is a Tim Thomerson action/comedy tour de force. This is exactly the kind of movie that exemplifies the positives of the b-movie genre. On one hand you have a movie that is a solid science fiction action thriller, yet on the other you have a poignant story of the negative effects of the illegal drug business in inner cities and the violent effect that gangs have on urban culture. Dollman is as much about gripping modern day social commentary as it is about telling the far out adventures of little Brick Bardo. This is a tremendously successful film on all accounts and one that deserves to be in your personal collection at home. I can’t recommend this film enough: I give it the full thumbs up, smiley face, heart symbol, and any other positive indicator you can think of to express my love for this film.
Check out the trailer for Dollman to A) use as a reference point for just how much the HD remaster process cleaned this movie up (see pics grabbed from the remaster in the review above), and B) so you can see the eternal Tim Thomerson knock it out of the park one more time. Seriously, Thomerson is nothing short of a national b-movie treasure. Dollman is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital, buy it today!