For a long time I’ve had a vague memory of a movie or episode of some anthology television show in which a woman was cursed so that any time she said “I love you” to someone, they would turn into a doll. The way I remembered it was that, at the end of the story she was fixed and realized that she could say it finally so she jubilantly shouted “I love New York” or “I love this town” which I thought at the time was reckless. But anyway, I had this memory, but never thought much about it.
On a whim I tried to search Google for it tonight. I got nothing. I could only find episodes about evil dolls and the like. I was flummoxed. I was sure I’d seen this thing. I assumed it was some episode of Outer Limits or Amazing Stories or something, niche sure, but mainstream enough that it’d be talked about online.
I reached out to other people I know to see if they remembered it and with their help I eventually seem to have found it. Really Weird Tales seems to be the answer. The thing is, the woman in Really Weird Tales (played by Catherine O’Hara no less!) does NOT turn people into dolls by saying “I love you” to them. What she does is if she loves someone (whether she says it or not) they explode. That’s in the same ballpark, but it’s a different game. But I kept watching and at one point she feels affection for a doll and it explodes. So is that it? My childhood mind conflated that with turning people into dolls? NO! There’s more. In an attempt to cure herself she has to go on a date with someone she finds repugnant, so she does that, but it goes poorly. That said, we do get the “I love New York” scene that was so embedded in my memory. AND THEN it turns out that the repugnant guy has a thing where if he hates someone, they turn into a doll! So the movie has the love thing and the doll thing, they’re just in different people than I remember. Clearly this is the movie I saw as a kid, my memory just got some things twisted.
But it gets weirder, because during my search I was led to a Reddit post by someone else trying to find the movie and that searcher ALSO remembered it as her turning people into dolls. Memory is weird.