Givin’ The Devil His Due!!!

Gory greetings! This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features a terrible trio of 70’s horror clas-sicks that prominently feature Old Scratch himself – THE DEVIL! Any friend of the Devil is a friend of mine, and these diabolical delights are all personal favorites. Consider these Brain Hammer tested, and Satan approved.

Open wide the gates of Hell, and LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

 

DEVIL TIMES FIVE (1974)

Three flabby and balding business associates and their skanky looking trophy wives plan a snowy weekend getaway at an isolated mountain resort house. The owner of the house and leader of the paunchy pack is Poppa Doc – the beefy and bullying owner of a successful chain of hospitals and sanitariums. Also along for the ride is Poppa Doc’s whore of a wife Lovely, his daughter Julie, her smart assed husband Rick, and long time employee and doormat Harvey who also brings along his boozing and frigid wife Ruth. Things are tense from the start as Lovely immediately attempts to seduce the cabin’s rabbit loving retarded caretaker, and then gets into a nasty cat fight with Julie.

Meanwhile, a bus crashes nearby allowing the escape of five very disturbed children that were being transported to a mental health facility. The kids hike through the snowy woods for a while until they finally discover Poppa Doc’s house. Their badly injured bus driver follows them into the basement of the house and the creepy children proceed to brutally beat him to death with hammers and chains! After disposing of his body and cutting the phone lines the precocious psychopaths go upstairs and make their presence known. The eternally drunken Ruth discovers the gang huddled on the living room floor.

The kids include a narcissistic cross dresser (played by the soon to be teen idol Leif Garrett!), a cute little black kid who loves to play soldier, an myopic albino dressed as a nun (actually played by a woman in her late twenties – HOT!), a sullen and silent female pyromaniac, and a pint sized moppet with a fish fixation who takes an immediate liking to Poppa Doc’s piranha collection! The grown ups think the kids are a bit odd, or perhaps just shaken up from the accident. Little do they know that the murderous youngsters are secretly stockpiling weapons and silently setting bizarre booby traps. The fun begins with the hanging of the retarded caretaker, and then one by one the adults also fall victim to the devilish deviants.

“Devil Times Five” (aka “The Horrible House On The Hill”) suffered from an incredibly difficult production. The original director quit after only filming about 38 minutes worth of footage – all of which with no coverage for editing! A new director and co-writer were brought in, and several new scenes were shot to pad out the film’s running time. These new scenes mostly consisted of endless (and pointless) arguments between the adult characters and extended shots of the kids trekking through the woods. Leif Garrett had already cut his hair short for another role and was forced to wear a very cheap looking wig in the re shoot scenes. The short lived bus driver was actually played by three different actors! It’s amazing that this low budget film could even be finished under these conditions, much less manage to be a decent horror flick.

I enjoy this one immensely! Despite some glaring continuity and pacing issues this one manages to be a very entertaining and offbeat 70’s horror flick. The highlight has to be the incredibly drawn out and brutal beating that the bus driver receives from the lads. This nearly six minute sepia toned slaughter sequence is extremely unnerving. It reminds me a bit of the clas-sick opening of Lucio Fulci’s “The Beyond.” There’s also lots of bloody mayhem to enjoy, with immolations, hangings, hatchet hijinx, bear traps, and a bathtub full of piranha!

Code Red released an excellent special edition dvd of DEVIL TIMES FIVE that includes an alternate opening sequence, a stills gallery, and the theatrical trailer. There’s also an excellent 22 minute collection of candid interviews with several of the actors and crew, and a full length commentary track that also dishes out the dirt on all the behind the scenes drama. Fans of wacky and obscure 70’s horror flicks should really appreciate this one.

 

 

THE DEVIL’S RAIN (1975)

This one opens on a dark and stormy night. Mrs. Preston (Ida Lupino) and her son Mark (the one & only William Shatner!) are waiting for Father to return. When he does, he quickly melts into a pile of goo. Before he dies he implores his family to “give Corbis what he wants.” Mrs. Preston explains to Mark that “what Corbis whats” is a mysterious book that the Preston family has secretly possessed for three centuries, and is then violently abducted by unseen forces.

Mark heads into the deserted town of Redstone for a showdown with the diabolical Corbis (Ernest Borgnine) – a Satanist who leads a coven and holds black masses inside the long abandoned town chapel. Sadly for Martin, his faith in God is not as strong as Corbis’ faith in Satan and he falls victim to the cult’s diabolical madness.

Meanwhile, Mark’s brother Tom (the poor man’s Charles Bronson himself – Tom Skerritt) and his wife Julie are helping Dr. Sam Richards (Eddie Albert) – an expert in the supernatural, conduct a bizarre public experiment with ESP. Julie has psychic powers and while hooked up to a machine receives visions of the morbid happenings in Redstone. Then Tom receives word that his family has turned up missing. Tom, Julie, and Dr. Richards investigate and despite the warnings of Sheriff Keenan Wynn (Piranha!), they go to Redstone looking for answers. What they find is horror beyond comprehension.

When the Devil’s Rain is unleashed the unfortunate Satanists slowly melt into something resembling soggy pizzas. The original theatrical trailer promised “absolutely the most incredible, unforgettable ending of any motion picture, ever!” It’s hard to argue with that claim, as it’s not often you see a flick that ends with repeated shots of John Travolta’s face being reduced to a bubbling technicolor puddle.

This 1975 effort from director William Fruet is infamous for featuring the late high priest & founder of the Church Of Satan – Anton Szandor LaVey. LaVey was credited as a technical advisor and briefly appears in the film. His lovely wife, the high priestess Diana LaVey also appears in a small role. Their participation ensured a genuine Satanic atmosphere. The biggest influence Anton had on the film was overseeing the set design, which included the creation of a Satanic altar and heavy use of the infernal trapazoid. Anton had a fascination with trapazoids, and believed they possessed profound magical significance. There’s also plenty of authentic Satanic chanting and some fantastic organ playing from Anton as well. Unlike a lot of the more respected 70’s occult themed horror flicks, this one is accurate in portraying the theatrical aspects of Satanism.

A lot of people seem to regard this as a “so bad it’s good” sort of flick, but I think it’s a superior 70’s Satanic epic. The special effects makeup is very impressive, and the acting across the board is excellent. Even Shatner manages to avoid chewing up too much of the scenery! Dark Sky Films released a very nice dvd of THE DEVIL’S RAIN that includes goodies like a commentary track with the director, vintage newsreel footage of LaVey’s black wedding, and a stills gallery. Essential purchase.

 

 

DEVIL DOG: THE HOUND OF HELL (1978)

A cult of Satanists lead by the incredibly sexy looking Martine Beswick of “Dr.No” fame buy a champion breeding German Shepard for use in one of their bizarre rituals. They summon the dark lord “Caninus” and the evil spirit then rapes the dog to create a litter of evil puppies! The cult then sets their sights on the Barry family, your typical bunch of white bread suburbanites. First they kill the Barry’s beloved dog with their black car. Then they send in secret weapon, R.G. Armstrong (Evilspeak!) as an undercover fruit and vegetable salesman who gives the grieving Barry children one of the Satanic pups.

The Barry family’s Hispanic housekeeper Maria is immediately distrustful of the adorable yet ominous looking pup. As a devout Catholic she can somehow sense the evil presence in the house and begs Mike Barry (played by Richard Crenna of “First Blood” fame!) to get rid of the little devil doggie. He quickly dismisses her as an idiot. The possessed pup also grows tired of the maid’s bullshit and when left alone in the house with her he uses his evil puppy powers to set her on fire!

We then flash forward a year and find little Bonnie Barry (Kim Richards!!!) celebrating her thirteenth birthday. Last year she wanted a doll house, this year she wants her ears pierced. The evil puppy has also grown up and is now a full grown devil dog. The devil dog uses its bizarre powers to hypnotize Mike and in a daze he comes very close to sticking his hand into lawnmower blades. The evil canine possesses the children and turns them into sassy back talkers that rig their school elections. Then Mrs. Barry has a carnal confrontation with the demon dog that unleashes her inner whore. She quickly has an affair with the next door neighbor and rubs it her husbands face. Then the devil dog pays the neighbor a visit and drowns him in his pool. Mike discovers his neighbor dead, and then walks in on his wife and kids in the middle of a Satanic ritual in the attic!

Shocked, Mike turns to the family doctor who quickly dismisses him as an idiot. Mike then stumbles upon the conveniently located neighborhood magic shop. The helpful proprietor tells Mike to hold a mirror up to his sleeping daughter’s face so he can see her “true form.” Mike does this, and in a very cool scene it is revealed that his sweet looking daughter is really a prune faced hell hag! Mike then travels to Ecuador (!) to learn the secrets of the hell beast from a medicine man. The mystic carves a magical symbol on Mike’s wrist that he claims will send the beast back to hell. Mike returns home armed with this secret weapon and has an unbelievable final confrontation with the hell hound. But will Mike’s pure soul be enough to stop the infernal beast…and what happened to the rest of the devil dog litter?

This fantastic made for tv horror flick debuted on Halloween night, 1978. Imagine the shock and horror a generation of trick or treaters must have experienced while tuning into this one on that fateful evening. Even by 70’s standards this occult themed flick is incredibly cheesy. The showdown between Richard Crenna and the rear projected horn and afro sporting hell hound is a real pisser. It’s also fairly lurid stuff for a tv movie. A cult of dog raping satanists, devil dogs that possess children, portraits of the dark one etched in blood. Great stuff.

I rank this one right up there with other 70’s made for tv clas-sicks like “Salem’s Lot” and “Gargoyles.” The fine fiends at Shriek Show must agree with me, as they were wise enough to unleash a beautiful looking TWO DISC dvd release of DEVIL DOG: THE HOUND OF HELL that includes a second disc full of bonus features. The highlight is the epic “To The Devil, A Dog” featurette, which includes in depth interviews with stars Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, which runs nearly as long as the movie itself! Own this or suck forever!

 

HAIL SATAN!!! KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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