Ami Dolenz is one of those actresses that you can’t help but fall in love with once you see one of her films.
With her cute girl-next-door charm, the eldest daughter of Monkee Mickey Dolenz lights up the screen and steals the show — even when cast opposite Seth Green or Corey Feldman.
While she hasn’t been working as much since her heyday in the ‘90s, Ami has starred in some fun horror flicks — four of which were, weirdly enough, first released in 1993.
Read on to learn about all of Dolenz’s scary movies — rated so you can skip the turkeys — and then join me in wishing that a Tarantino-like filmmaker will soon cast her in her comeback vehicle.
CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT (1991)
Directed by Tony Randel (HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II), this film has the budget of a lesser TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode. Despite effects from KNB, Peter DeLuise as the male lead, and Karen Black & Garrett Morris in supporting roles, it’s never had a chance to be anything but terrible. CHILDREN has a nonsensical plot and FX makeup that changes for no reason from vampire to vampire — some go full demon and have giant teeth that stick out of their mouths, while others look human but sleep underwater with their lungs above the surface for no apparent reason (other than to showcase a cool effect).
CHILDREN has a promising start, however: Cindy and Lucy (Dolenz), teens about to move away from their hometown of Allburg, take part in the hamlet’s ritual: you have to swim in an old flooded church crypt, or you’re doomed to eventually move back. Lucy drops her cross during the swim, which falls on a vampire who’s sleeping underwater; he smells her virgin blood or something, awakens, and makes more vampires who take over the town. It’s up to Dolenz and DeLuise to stop the bloodsuckers and make the cheap sets and bad lighting work.
Rating: 0 out of 5 DeLuises
Ami’s worst horror film, STEPMONSTER was released direct to VHS for a reason: the title promises fun that the script can’t live up to. Alan Thicke is a father whose wife disappears, so he’s left as a single dad to horndog pre-teen Billy. Ami is the teenage babysitter next door, whose bedroom is conveniently located so that Billy can spy on her undressing and be a disgusting little pervert whom the audience is somehow still supposed to root for.
Billy tells Ami he thinks his dad’s new fiancee is really a monster; people in the neighborhood start disappearing; and not even Corey Feldman as Ami’s hesher boyfriend can save this movie. Skip skip skip.
Rating: 0 out of 5 sexy babysitters
PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS (1993)
Not nearly as good as the first, PUMPKINHEAD II is still a fun, enjoyable watch. Ami plays the teen daughter of the town’s new sheriff (Andrew Robinson, HELLRAISER). She immediately falls in with a delinquent gang of generic alternative kids who (since it was the early ’90s) also dabble in the occult. They accidentally hit an old witch with their car, and when they take her back to her home, they manage to steal her spell book and burn down her house. They use the book to raise Pumpkinhead’s son… and folks gotta die.
PUMPKINHEAD II also stars Soleil Moon Frye as “Cute Goth Girl Who Knows About Magic,” and Roger Clinton (brother of then-President Bill Clinton) in a cameo as “Mayor Bubba.”
Rating: 3 out of 5 curses
WITCHBOARD 2: THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY (1993)
This sequel suffers from having an even lower budget than its predecessor, but it’s still fun and worth checking out. Ami plays an artist who’s just left her bad news boyfriend and moves into a new apartment, managed by hippie landlord Laraine Newman.
She finds a Ouija board in the closet and makes contact with the spirit of the previous tenant, Susan — who claims she was murdered. Ami starts to date a new guy, but her creepy ex-boyfriend comes back around, and people start to die. Ami must figure out if Susan’s spirit is killing people… or if Susan’s murderer is continuing the killing spree.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Ouijas
This is Ami’s best horror film, and her second for director Tony Randel. I can’t stress enough how fun this movie is, and how entertaining the practical effects are.
Ami again plays a juvenile delinquent — this time the rich bitch in a group of troubled teens on a wilderness trip that’s supposed to rehabilitate them. Peter Scolari plays the counselor, and along for the ride are nerd Seth Green and Alfonso Ribeiro in full thug mode (which must be seen to be believed). Clint Howard costars as a crazy backwoods marijuana farmer, who accidentally spills a chemical that makes local ticks mutate into giant rubber man-eaters. So. Much. Fun.
Rating: 5 out of 5 bloodsucking insects
HOUSE RULES FOR BAD GIRLS (2009)
A slasher about girls at a reform school getting picked off one by one by a killer in white sweats and a white fencing mask, HOUSE RULES is one of those cheapies which are mostly unremarkable — except for a lack of the usual nudity we’ve come to expect in a film like this. Some scenes look like they were shot in front of a green screen instead of a set, with stock photos serving for background.
The trailer ends with the only fun or interesting line in the film: “If I’m not back in five minutes,” the lead girl says to her distressed house mates, “wait longer.”
Rating: 1 out of 5 sexy schoolgirls