Dolly Dearest

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Dolly Dearest
Directed byMaria Lease
Produced byDaniel Cady
Written byMaria Lease
Rod Nave
Peter Sutcliffe (story)
Maria Lease (screenplay)
StarringDenise Crosby
Sam Bottoms
Rip Torn
Chris Demetral
Candace Hutson
Lupe Ontiveros
Music byMark Snow
CinematographyEric D. Anderson
Edited byGeoffrey Rowland
Patriot Pictures
Channeler Enterprises
Distributed byTrimark Pictures
Image Organization
Release date
  • October 18, 1991 (1991-10-18)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States

Dolly Dearest is a 1991 American black comedy horror film starring Denise Crosby and Rip Torn. The movie was initially supposed to be direct-to-video, but did get a limited theatrical release in the Midwestern United States.[1]


Elliot Wade (Sam Bottoms) obtains ownership of the Dolly Dearest factory in Mexico. Not far from the factory is the underground Mayan tomb of Sanzia, or Satan on Earth. An archaeologist breaks into the sarcophagus but is crushed by the stone slab that covers the entrance, releasing the malevolent spirit of Sanzia. Upon its escape, Sanzia takes refuge in the porcelain doll, Dolly Dearest.

Despite the demise of the archaeologist, the sale is finalized and the Wade family travels to Mexico to see their new home. Upon arrival, the family meets their realtor, Mr. Estrella and housekeeper, Camilla (Lupe Ontiveros).

Estrella takes Elliot, Jimmy, and Jessica to see the factory; the building, long abandoned, is structurally unstable to the consternation of Elliot, but Estrella hurriedly brushes his worries aside and discusses the history of the factory.

During the conversation, Jessica goes exploring. On a shelf she discovers many well-preserved dolls covered by a sheet, she asks her father if she may have one and he acquiesces, allowing her to take Dolly. Outside, Jimmy finds the entrance to the cave which is blocked by a wire fence. Unaware of recent events, Jimmy inquires about that area, but his father warns him to never go back there again.

That night, Marilyn (Denise Crosby) tucks Jessica into bed; as she falls asleep, Dolly slowly turns her head to stare at the child. The next day, Marilyn finds a disturbing drawing that she thinks Jessica drew.

Jessica becomes progressively more violent and obsessive with Dolly. To not arouse her father's suspicion, Jessica acts normal when he is around, but resumes her evil and threatening behavior around her mother. Camilla believes the doll is controlling Jessica; when the daughter speaks harshly in Sanzian tongue, Camilla tries to warn Marilyn, but is killed by the spirit. Jimmy sneaks out of the house one night and breaks into the factory from an unlocked window, he finds the night watchman Luis, dead on the floor and flees.

Marilyn comes to the realization that Jessica may truly be possessed and tries to take the doll from her daughter. Jessica warns her mother not to touch the doll, but when Marilyn persists, Sanzia momentarily possesses Jessica and yells, "I will kill you!" before adding "The kid's mine."

The next day, Marilyn visits the dig for the first time and talks with the archaeologist, Resnick (Rip Torn) about the purpose of their dig. Resnick tells Marilyn that they are searching for the remains of the Sanzia devil child inside the tomb, which has not been opened yet. Resnick continues to explain that the devil child, a true force of evil, fed on the warm blood of children; the tribe eventually killed the creature because its dietary needs almost wiped out the population of the tribe. Marilyn then explains that Jessica is being controlled by her doll and visits Camilla's sister, a nun, at a convent, informing her it is too late.

At home, Marilyn looks for Jessica, she finds Jimmy hiding on the floor of the hallway closet, and he tells her that Jessica and Dolly are in Jessica's room. He also reveals that he saw Dolly talk and move. Jimmy hands her the key to Jessica's room, and Dolly reveals its true self to Marilyn.

Marilyn goes back downstairs, loads ammo into the shotgun and tells Jimmy to call his father. At the factory, the dolls disconnect the phones from the hook. Marilyn returns to Jessica's room to find the doll gone. Jimmy continues to try to contact his father; when he is unable to get through, he attempts to call the operator, but is unable to communicate because he does not speak Spanish.

When Jessica becomes separated from Dolly, her mother attempts to flee with her, only to be blocked by Dolly. Dolly calls to Jessica, and Jessica attacks her mother; as Marilyn and Jessica struggle, Dolly starts advancing towards them with a kitchen knife. Jimmy grabs the shotgun and, after figuring out how it works, fires it at Dolly.

The impact of the bullets sends Dolly crashing through the door, and Jessica becomes herself again. Marilyn, Jessica and Jimmy get in the car and drive to the factory, where Elliot is being attacked by the dolls. Meanwhile, the professor enters the tomb and sees the remains of the devil child, which has the body of an infant and the head of a goat. Realizing the myth was true, the professor runs to the factory, where he saves Elliot from the dolls, they run outside and reunite with Elliot's family. The family plants dynamite around the factory; the dolls fail in stopping them; as a result, the factory explodes, killing the dolls. As the explosions continue, an agonizing demonic scream is heard, implying the evil Sanzia spirit is also destroyed; the film ends as the family watches the factory burn.


  • Denise Crosby as Marilyn Wade, Elliot's wife and Jessica and Jimmy's mother. She is the protagonist.
  • Sam Bottoms as Elliot Wade, Marilyn's husband, Jessica and Jimmy's father, and the toy maker and manufacturer of the "Dolly Dearest" toy factory.
  • Rip Torn as Karl Resnick, an archaeologist who is trying to find the remains of the Sanzia Devil child.
  • Lupe Ontiveros as Camilla, the housekeeper. She is later killed by Dolly.
  • Candace Hutson as Jessica "Jessie" Wade, Elliot and Marilyn's daughter and Jimmy's younger sister. (Credited as Candy Hutson)
  • Chris Demetral as Jimmy Wade, Jessica's older brother.
  • Ed Gale as the Dolly double. Serves as the film's antagonist.


Critical reception for Dolly Dearest was mostly negative,[2] with DVD Verdict writing that "aside from a handful of fun moments, there's nothing much here to separate it from the lineup of Child's Play clones it dwells among."[3] Variety praised Hutson's performance but criticized the movie's "clutzy dialogue".[1] DVD Talk panned the film, saying "in the 'killer doll' subgenre of stupid horror flicks, Dolly Dearest may very well be the most moronic";[4] the Austin Chronicle also reviewed the movie, giving Dolly Dearest 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.[5]


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