Today’s b-movie feature is “Dollman,” the story of a stranded renegade cop from space who barely measures a foot tall on Earth.
“Dollman” was directed by b-movie legend Albert Pyun, who has been behind films like “Cyborg,” “Captain America,” “Alien From L.A.,” and “The Sword and The Sorcerer” over his 30+ year directing career.
The screenplay for “Dollman” is credited to Chris Roghair, who has no other acknowledged writing credits. The story is credited to Charles Band himself, who ran Full Moon Pictures, the outfit which produced the film. There were a couple of other hands involved in the writing that didn’t received formal credit on the film, namely David Padian (“Puppet Master II”) and Ed Naha (“Dolls,” “Troll,” “C.H.U.D. II”).
The effects team on “Dollman” included Bill Sturgeon (“Videodrome,” “An American Werewolf in London,” “Aliens,” “The Frighteners”), Logan Frazee (“Blade Runner,” “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory,” “Heat,” “Mystery Men”) Mike Smithson (“Thor,” “Avatar,” “Teen Wolf Too”) Garrett Immel (“Drag Me To Hell,” “Scream,” “Sin City”) James Belohovik (“Evil Dead II,” “The Thing,” “Robot Jox”), and Roger Borelli (“Men In Black,” “Darkman,” “Army of Darkness”).
The music for “Dollman” was provided by Anthony Riparetti, who has contributed scores for other Albert Pyun movies such as “Alien From L.A.” and “Knights.”
The cast of “Dollman” is headlined by Tim Thomerson (“Trancers,” “Fade to Black”) and Jackie Earl Haley (“Watchmen”), with the supporting cast being rounded out by Kamala Lopez (“I Heart Huckabees”), Frank Collison (“O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, “The Village”) and Nicholas Guest (“Trading Places”).
The story of “Dollman” follows a renegade space policeman as he pursues an alien criminal to Earth, where the two of them only measure a foot tall. They are then forced to find a way off of the planet while surviving life in the gang-dominated Bronx and battling each other.
“Dollman” received a sequel via a crossover with another Full Moon Features franchise, “Demonic Toys.” “Dollman vs The Demonic Toys,” as it was creatively titled, was directed by Charles Band and is widely disliked even by fans of his work.
Interestingly, “Doll Man” is an actual super hero who currently exists within the D.C. canon, though he is best known for in his golden age form published by Quality Comics. He was interestingly the first shrinking comic book hero, predating more well known characters like “Ant Man.” Full Moon’s “Dollman” also had its own limited run in comics published by Eternity, which produced series based on a number of the production’s features.
I wasn’t able to find any information about the budget or financial gains of the film, but I assume that the budget was significantly low given the production company. I would be shocked if it didn’t ultimately turn a profit of some kind. The movie has a bit of a cult following, but isn’t widely beloved: it currently has an IMDb rating of 5.8, and a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 37%.
Most reviews I have seen of “Dollman” admit that, despite its cheesiness, it certainly has some entertainment value to it for fans of b-movies. I can’t help but agree: it isn’t fantastic by any means, but there are plenty of things to enjoy in “Dollman” if you can accept it for the minimal (ha) production that it is.
The special effects throughout “Dollman” are really a mixed bag. I loved the work that was done to the environments to make characters appear small, and the over-the-top squibs kind of work, but the rest of the effects just don’t cut it. That said, the squibs are more than enough to enjoy for bad movie fans.
I will say that the sets and production design in “Dollman” are ok, and definitely distinguish Earth and the alien world. However, the lighting and shots make things very difficult to see, particularly in the early segments on the alien planet. It pretty much offsets the creative details of the world when you can’t see them on screen.
One of the key draws of “Dollman” is definitely the super gun, which essentially makes up for the character’s small size. The effects of it are absolutely ridiculous and it is beyond overpowered, but it certainly is fun to watch. I will note that the guns design and Dollman’s personality make it pretty transparent that his character is basically Dirty Harry in a sci-fi setting, but that is hardly something to complain about.
The writing and acting throughout the movie is pretty awful, but Tim Thomerson definitely stands out as a highlight. He manages to make some otherwise cringe-worthy one-liners and puns work for his bad-ass character, which is no small feat.
Overall, “Dollman” isn’t a great movie, and doesn’t quite deserve classification among the elite “good-bad” features out there either. It certainly has entertaining moments that give it value, but it isn’t an essential watch if you ask me. If you are a fan of Full Moon or Albert Pyun, you will probably enjoy it, but average audiences might not be as enthusiastic about the feature.