Miss Leslie's Dolls - Network - DVD
Written by Jay Creepy   
Saturday, 07 September 2019

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SEVERED CINEMA REVIEW OF MISS LESLIE'S DOLLS

Severed Cinema review of Miss Leslie's Dolls
BUY MISS LESLIE'S DOLLS

Directed by: Joseph G Prieto
Written by: R Remy, Joseph G Prieto
Produced by: R Remy, J.A Pina, Carlos A Lopez
Cinematography by: Gregory Sander
Music by: Ralph Remy Jr/ Imer Leaf.
Special Effects by: Lee J O'Donnell
Cast: Salvador Ugarte, Terri Juston, Charles Pitts. Kitty Lewis, Marcelle Bichette
Year: 1973
Country: USA/ Mexico
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1h 25 min

Distributor:
Network
 

Miss Leslie's Dolls pans out like a stage play. It has that closed in atmosphere and only a small handful of sets. This one's a real curiosity, you know, lost and forgotten for many long years. The back story of its genesis is open to debate because no one actually knows, thus it has a spellbinding effect on the viewer. It makes you wonder what you are watching, but in a hypnotic way. Miss Leslie's Dolls creates trauma on your consciousness, nothing much happens, yet you stare in bewilderment pondering what will come next!

The IMDb synopsis has it all totally wrong, by the way, if you happen to flick over to it. The central character isn't gay, isn't actually a drag queen, and certainly isn't terrorising a city. Jesus, who wrote that??!!

As we begin, minutes in, I had the sense I was watching one of those vintage shorts released by Something Weird Video from the late fifties or early sixties. I can't believe this was made in the seventies! “Oh my God! Help me!” comes the opening crudely-voiced girl who runs out of a creepy dark house. She isn't speaking another language, yet is dubbed. It's one of those when the sound wasn't recorded on the film, had to be done badly at a later date. Ready for a disjointed experience then?

Our first glimpse of Miss Leslie is as she stands with a storm behind her windows, whispering incantations. This woman is clearly a man, yet is dubbed by a woman. The face brought back the erotic classic, Education Anglaise (see review here) wherein the supposed headmistress was totally and utterly a man. I mean this in a different way to Divine and of course David Carradine in Sonny Boy, they were female characters played by men, this is different. Afterwards, she heads out in the rain to crouch over an open coffin. Inside lays the corpse of a girl. Leslie uses a swinging medallion and looks as if she is hypnotising the cadaver. I figured out we were about to see the girl rise up. Alas, no, as we see later there was really no reason for this moment. Anyhow, a car approaches in the thundering night. The car breaks down, college tutor, Miss Alma Frost, plus her three students, Roy, Martha, and Lily, all huddle under a brolly until they chance upon the eerie and doom beckoning old house where Miss Leslie lives.

Now at first as I saw the rubbishy made crosses in the ground which marked a large cemetery, being that they were all flimsy and hastily written on, I figured it was a budget thing. However, on second pondering, Miss Leslie has probably been alone in her secluded house for a very long time and the grounds are a mass of her victims.

“I wasn't expecting any visitors.” says the brightly feminine voice of masculine Miss Leslie as she greets them. When Alma explains the door was open (they let themselves in, as is mandatory when confronted by a scary big house), Leslie smirks as she strokes her black cat, Tom. “No one ever comes through that door. No living creature.” Then she unceremoniously tosses the poor cat on the floor. It turns out her phone is out of order, so they'll have to spend the night. “Oh...no.” Lily struggles through her dreadful acting skills.

Suddenly, as Martha introduces herself, the music deepens and becomes ominous. “Martha? No it cannot be!” states Miss Leslie. After endless minutes of overacting, we learn she resembles a girl who died in a fire many years ago, who also had the same name. Plus not long ago, a girl who lived nearby would visit the house, and they grew fond of one another. Until the girl became very ill...

Meanwhile, Roy, who has two women on the go, and is a complete utter turd to everyone around him, investigates the abode of Miss Leslie and comes across a mysterious room filled with what appears to be life-size wax dolls. Given the fact the woman spoke of her mother once owning a dolls shop, the plot thickens. We have to pretend not to notice the slight movements some of the girls make as the camera explores them.

Miss Leslie explains the symbolism of the 'dolls', and the flame which burns in the room. She also mentions the figures aren't made of wax, but something she keeps a secret. Oh yes, her mother's skull is on the premises and it speaks to her, tormenting her. Of course, it isn't unexpected when Miss Leslie produces an axe and begins to attack her guests. Soon the truth behind her obsession with Martha is revealed.....

Axe chopping, body swapping, sex, magic, lesbianism, diddling, and a really messed up nightmare sequence, all happens in very spaced out intervals whilst Miss Leslie seems to talk none stop in monotone scripted lengths.

Very gothic in a low blow timid way, and a tingle of Mario Bava – probably accidentally. For all its limitations, Miss Leslie's Dolls pulls out a few twists and turns within the finale. I mean, they don't all work perfectly, but it certainly shakes the movie up a bit. Hang on, let's be quite frank here, it's like everyone just threw whatever script they had in the bin around the half way mark and just said “who needs a plot that makes sense?” Jay Creepy salutes this film.

Looking weirdly like Daron (System of a Down) Malakian in some shots, Salvador Ugarte as Miss Leslie throws around some full blooded contorted expressions and the dubbed female voice takes the film into a really blackly comical world. Salvador found a way to make a living by writing for the Mexican TV series, Lo que el cielo no perdona, which ran for a mammoth one hundred episodes in the early ‘80s. The rest of the cast didn't really get anywhere in the world, a handful of support roles for some, total obscurity for others.

Lee O' Donnell, the makeup artist (I mean, until the final parts there isn't really much work for him, I reckon it was a quick day hire on set all in all) worked on the classic trashy, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, and he acted in a fair few movies like Sexeo, and The Disco Dolls in Hot Skins.

There's a flimsy booklet provided in the DVD case on this bare bones tiny extras release by Network, which makes interesting reading for a while. The information is best studied after viewing, by the way. There's some debate as to who directed it, hmmm.

Did I enjoy Miss Leslie's Dolls? It wasn't dull, yet I felt it dragging. The mood and overall surroundings were enjoyable as the talking parts wore on, at least. This film looks so much like it was made in the early sixties, honestly. The creators has hacked up the bodies of clichι plot tools, juggled them in the air and then sewn them all together to make this monster. The clunky warpy music and the grim darkness apparent throughout really puts Miss Leslie's Dolls into a corner all by itself. You won't forget this experience.

 

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 RATING:
 VIDEO: 1 
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 AUDIO: 1 
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 DVD: 1 
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 MOVIE: 1 
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 DVD SPECS:
 Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
 Region: PAL R0
 Audio: Mono


 SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:
 – Stills Gallery

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 September 2019 )