The Baby Doll Murders

  • 1993
  • Movie
  • R
  • Crime, Mystery, Thriller

This well-acted but routine police procedural, about a serial killer cutting a bloody swath through Los Angeles, starts off promisingly, with Police Chief John Maglia (John Saxon) berating skilled detective Lewis (Jeff Kober) for harassing prime suspect Lex Parker (Tom Hodges), who--through his lawyer, Eric Greene (Don Stark)--has sued the department for...read more

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This well-acted but routine police procedural, about a serial killer cutting a bloody swath through Los Angeles, starts off promisingly, with Police Chief John Maglia (John Saxon) berating skilled detective Lewis (Jeff Kober) for harassing prime suspect Lex Parker (Tom Hodges),

who--through his lawyer, Eric Greene (Don Stark)--has sued the department for false arrest and for Lewis's overzealous methods. Lex was arrested but released after the fourth sex-mutilation murder; more have now occurred, although the killer has begun to leave a baby doll in the arms of his

slashed and strangled victims. Lewis is still convinced Lex is guilty, and beats him up, much to the consternation of Lewis partner, Larry (Bobby DiCicco), and almost-fiancee, Peggy (Melanie Smith), a police department receptionist. Maglia suspends Lewis, who starts following Lex on his own, while

Larry spends time away from the case caring for his wife Emma (Eileen Seeley), who's recovering from a miscarriage.

The murders continue, the victims a variety of women of all ages and social background throughout LA, and Lewis finally links them up: they were all patients of gynecologist Dr. Rhodes (Gary Werntz), and had all had abortions within the past three months. Rhodes gives Lewis a list of five more

patients who have had abortions and who might be in danger. One is Maglia's daughter Betty (Julie McCullough), a student at UCLA. Lewis breaks the news to Maglia, then races to save Betty as the masked killer stalks her while she's out jogging. Lewis wounds him and rips off the mask to reveal

Larry as the murderer: Emma's miscarriage was in fact an abortion--her name was on the list as well--and Larry couldn't handle it. After confessing he commits suicide with his gun. The fade-out finds Lewis, now reinstated (Lex's probable guilt for the first four killings is still in question) with

Maglia's gratitude for saving his daughter, and Peggy deciding to marry and "make a baby."

Writer-director-co-producer-editor Paul Leder, a veteran low-budget filmmaker (I DISMEMBER MAMA, FRAME UP, EXILED IN AMERICA) unfortunately misjudges the complexity of his plot, with the result that the viewer is almost always one step ahead of his detective hero in pursuing the mystery.

Employing such tired devices as killer's POV shots, the movie also moves at a snail's pace, which make the holes in the plot all the more obvious. Surprisingly for a direct-to-video film (and in light of the goriness of Leder's previous pictures), the violence is fairly soft-pedaled, and the film

is seldom suspenseful. This is a good-looking production, however, sharply utilizing a variety of LA locations. It is also very well acted, with Kober (THE FIRST POWER) making an excellent frustrated idealist. Excellent bits are also provided by B-movie veteran John Saxon, who looks in tip-top

shape; Tom Hodges as the slimeball Lex, who at one point tearfully confesses to all the murders to Lewis but only as a grisly joke; Don Stark as Lex's equally slimy (if better dressed) lawyer; and Robert Rigamonti as a victim's grieving husband, a mute who must sign his testimony and bereavement

through an interpreter. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)

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  • Released: 1993
  • Rating: R
  • Review: This well-acted but routine police procedural, about a serial killer cutting a bloody swath through Los Angeles, starts off promisingly, with Police Chief John Maglia (John Saxon) berating skilled detective Lewis (Jeff Kober) for harassing prime suspect Le… (more)

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