Wednesday, March 5, 2014
The Dolls in Stephen King and Anne Rice's Books
Sheriff Ruth Merrill, played by Joanna Cassidy in the TV Miniseries "The Tommyknockers", is an avid doll collector. She displays hundreds in her office. After an ancient space ship is dug up, and evil aliens begin to possess the townspeople, turning them into their own toys or zombie dolls, Ruth’s doll collection also becomes possessed. King takes The Nutcracker, where animated dolls are noble, entertaining, and heroic, and turns the hero into a killer who stabs Ruth. Interview with the Vampire: Dolls are a big motif in Anne Rice’s novels; in fact, she was once an avid doll collector and set up a museum in St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage in New Orleans Last year, she sold the last of her large and varied collection in an auction that included a doll that once belonged to Victor Hugo. One of her dolls alone, a large French Bru bisque head described in "Taltos" and featured on the back cover of Interview, sold for over $30,000.00 by itself. In the film Interview, dolls take on a creepy role. Claudia, the child vampire who grows in mind by not in her perpetually five year old body, received a doll every year on her “vampire” birthday from Lestat. Claudia, as one of the undead, is herself animated doll, but one with an attitude. The dolls pile up, and on one occasions, she murders a woman who has the physique she would like to have, and hides her under the pile of dolls on her bed, in a strange twist to Rilke’s doll/corpse idea. Claudia befriends a lonely doll maker named Madeline in Paris because she thinks Madeleine can create for her a lady doll that will reflect who she would like to be. Claudia, like many others, sees the doll as an image and projection of herself in her most perfect sense. Madeleine, on the other hand, sees Claudia as the reincarnation of the child that she lost. She has been making dolls over and over again in the hopes of recreating her child. At the end, she has Claudia, and “undead” living doll to fulfill her fantasy. Both are “broken” or destroyed by the Theatre de Vampires for crimes against Lestat the Vampire. Recently, two of the prop dolls made for the 1994 Warner Brothers film were being auctioned by Live Auctioneers, estimate for the two dolls was $400-600 dollars. Rice features dolls in nearly all her books, prominently in "Belinda", "Taltos", "Lasher", "The Witching Hour", "Memnoch the Devil" and "Merrick " She often features items from her own now defunct collections, including the antique Bru and French bisque dolls, Pre-Columbian idols and small ritual figures, Santos and religious figures, ritual “voodoo” type dolls made of the bones of the Mayfair witches, and others. The movies discussed here are only a part of the horizon. I will touch on the Saw and Puppet Master Series, Disney’s Child of Glass, Toy Story I, II, III, The Nightmare before Christmas, The Stepford Wives films, the dozens of robot, wax figure, and manikin films, the toys in Poltergeist, and the hundreds of films that use dolls, statutes, figurines, animatronics, or robots to achieve a creepy and uncanny effect. Also, these films generate dolls and doll related collectibles that often become valuable, especially if they are the original props or puppets used to achieve the spooky effects. Because dolls are among the oldest human artifacts, and because they are images of their creators, they inspire human imagination and emotion.