Dollman (1991)

Director: Albert Pyun

Screenplay: David Pabian, Chris Roghair

It’s comforting to know a wacky project like Dollman exists for B-movie fanatics like me, even if the film itself can’t quite live up its trailer (see previous post).

Charles Band, the impresario of Full Moon Features, conceived this story of Brick Bardo (cult actor Tim Thomerson, of Band’s popular Trancer series), a take-no-prisoners law enforcer on the distant planet Arturus, who crash-lands on Earth to find himself only thirteen inches tall. Bardo’s reduced stature does not, however, occasion the existential plight you might come to expect after such other “mini-people” sci-fi classics as The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989). Rather, the central joke of the movie is that Bardo, a bad-ass on his home planet, remains equally fearsome as a tiny “dollman” on Earth, wiping out South Bronx gangbangers wholesale with his super-charged pistol, which looks like an accessory from a G.I. Joe figurine. That this little weapon functions as a ludicrously disproportionate symbol of phallic overcompensation is apparently not lost on the filmmakers: at one point they have the lead gangbanger (Jackie Earle Haley, in a very funny performance) attempt to steal Bardo’s miniature pistol after his own normal-sized guns prove embarrassingly “impotent” in destroying the little guy.

There’s certainly not a lot of plot progression to be found in Dollman, if that’s your thing. But the movie does have some convincing scaling effects (mostly accomplished with the use of camera angles, with less reliance on over-sized props), as well as some distinctly B-for-budget environs: construction-site rubble and austere, dingy interiors (“any-space-whatevers,” as the philosopher Deleuze might say) are virtually the only two locations utilized, alerting one to the fact that the filmmakers–aside from a brief montage of Bronx street scenes–are consciously working to set the action in underpopulated areas in order to cut costs. It is in fact this chronic avoidance of the normal hustle and bustle of city life that gives urban B-movies like Dollman that special mark of being “not-quite-official,” set at margins or in the hidden places of mainstream society and culture, and therefore, in some way, thrillingly authentic.

-Cam

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Filed under American Independent, Cam

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