Why are stepparents always so rotten in movies?
In a wordless prologue, we see that after her mother’s funeral, Baby Doll’s sinister stepfather heartlessly assaults her and her little sister. And when the younger girl dies, his pins the blame squarely on Baby Doll.
She’s banished to Lennox House, a 1950s-era gothic psychiatric asylum, where her stepfather blithely orders up a lobotomy. In five days, Baby Doll will be a mindless vegetable.
That is, she’ll be a mindless vegetable unless she can find a way out of this terrifying place which somehow operates on three outlandish levels: reality (a mental hospital), subreality (a burlesque-fueled “gentleman’s club”) and a dream world (an apocalyptic, steampunk battlefield chockablock with machine guns, zombified WWI soldiers, dragons, robots and supernatural samurais).
The bereft (but still sexy) Baby Doll quickly befriends fellow (sexy) female inmates Rocket, Blondie, Amber and Sweet Pea. With the help of Madame Gorski, the therapist/choreographer, the girls attempt to outwit Blue, the evil chief orderly/nightclub owner. To escape the asylum, they must collect five items: a map, fire, a knife and a key—with the fifth thing being kept a mystery.
To distract and entrance their male captors and obtain each component, Baby Doll dances for the men they will hoodwink. Via her epic performances (which we never see), she and the other girls somehow enter the fantasy battlefield realm, where they are met with video game-like challenges proffered by a nameless wise man.
The goal is pedestrian: Get out of jail free. The hyper-stylized (sexy) shoot-’em-up methods are surreal to say the least, absurd to say the most.