Sunday, September 25, 2011

HALLOWEENAGE #1: DEVIL TIMES FIVE (1974)

*Full disclosure: I am starting this super-early this year and renaming (or "re-branding") it to keep it together, since I am going to be taking the plane of white wealth to Seattle mid-month, so that October will be more like Octseattletober.  Also, since I am so busy and important, there might be more or less than 31 of these.  This blog is going to festooned with suspense and viewable through screens crystal-cleared b/c bated breath.*

Children!  We all know and hate them.  So, theoretically, they should make amazing horror movie villains.  But there's a problem and its name is child actors and their stubby legs and weak muscles and often too-cutesy approach to the craft.  Although.  It seems unbelievable, but, if you ponder it, we are actually living in the golden age of killer-kid movies.  The ChildrenHome MovieOrphan.  All far better than the majority of their kiddie-horror predecessors, unfortunately including DEVIL TIMES FIVE.

This explains a lot.
Some seventies stuff was so amazing that it cast a glossy finish over the entire decade.  DEVIL TIMES FIVE (aka PEOPLETOYS aka THE HORRIBLE HOUSE ON THE HILL) is, if nothing else, a grim reminder that there was lots of blasé, tepid, TV-movie-like horror even during that decade we all love.  It's not like Kevin Williamson invented mediocre horror movies!  D*5 is tepid in a confused, awkward way, like the film version of an AM radio switching from piano-driven AM gold to dippy aimless psychedelia and back again.  Film begins with a hilarious van accident and five young'uns tumbling out of the wreckage.  One of them plays soldier THROUGH THE ENTIRE FILM, spouting dialogue like "Affirmative!" and "What time is chow?"  Is your adorableness sensor going off?  Does this sound like sitcom fare?  How about when the kids go to the horrible house of Papa Doc (really) and he says, "I was 14 when I first slopped a mop down in Copperhaven's cruddy halls!"?  How about now?  Are you vomiting now?
Big axe.

Little axe.
This movie.  Takes forever.  To kick into gear.  Kids arrive and recite the van-accident story, but none of the grown-ups bother calling the police.  They are too busy getting into incredibly athletic bathrobe catfights, drinking J&B, and sharing comedic antics with the comically-retarded manor slave Ralph.  The tempo and performances genuinely feel like TV movie fare, so much so that it's a shock when a breast or hideous unclothed male behind pops up.  Once the kills really start, some are okay (the bathtub is pretty fun and BEARTRAPS EVERYWHERE should really be in a better movie), but DEVIL fails to climb the mountain that confronts most kid movies: kids are small, not that bright, and also much weaker than adults.  This movie goes the extra mile to overcome it by using size-changing hatchets and elaborate swinging death machines, but still falls short.  Stick with our modern 2.0 entries if you need additional reasons to dislike children. 

MEH times five.

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