Friday, February 17, 2017

Devil Times Five (1974)








DIRECTORS:

Sean MacGregor
David Sheldon

WRITERS:

Sandra Lee Blowitz
John Durren
Dylan Jones

CAST:

Sorrell Booke
Gene Evans
Shelley Morrison
Joan McCall
Taylor Lacher
Carolyn Stellar
Leif Garrett
Gail Smale
Henry Beckman
Dawn Lyn

PLOT:

When a group of friends decides to head to a secluded house in the mountains for a winter vacation, they are unaware that something horrible is heading their way. Five young sociopathic and extremely disturbed young children have escaped from their psychiatric transport and are looking for blood. The group of adults is unaware that these kids have other plans for the adults and it will be a fight for survival.







Devil Times Five which was initially titled Peopletoys and has also been known by The Horrible House On The Hill is an early proto-slasher film that has multiple killers in the form of very disturbed and evil young children. The movie blends the two sub-genres of horror together to create this bloody and at times entertaining low-budget slasher movie. Going into Devil Times Five, I wasn't sure this film would qualify as a slasher flick, but after watching it, I can see elements of the slasher splattered all over this nasty and mean-spirited film.

The movie begins with a couple who are packing their bags for a trip to a secluded vacation house in the snow-capped mountains. They head off to meet their group of friends for a weekend away. As they travel the treacherous and snowy roads, they suddenly crash in a spectacularly terrible filmed car crash. The footage is sped up to the point that it ends up looking incredibly silly. It's the type of sped up footage that would make Benny Hill proud. It just needs that tune played over it, and it may have been a laugh out loud moment.

After the car accident, we are introduced to an evil nun and five very disturbed young children. This group robs the dead and begin heading towards the mountain cabin and have some very sinister plans in store for the group of adults who are now inhabiting the residence. The group is made up of couples who come across as more immature and childish than the mentally deranged kids who plan on killing them. The film also throws in a hilarious catfight between two of the woman that has hair-pulling, slaps and garments being torn open. The music during the fight makes this scene even more entertaining.

It's just shortly after the twenty-minute mark where things start getting pretty dark. We get our first kill. I can only imagine the censors back in 1974 watching a group of children and a nun who stab and beat what appears to be a mentally challenged man with a pitchfork and hammers. I'm shocked that Devil Times Five didn't end up on the Video Nasties list in all honesty. This scene while poorly lit is probably the only thing that saved it from causing what I imagine would've been a hell of a lot of controversy from the MPAA.

Once the kids join the adults in the cabin, this is where things get really entertaining. We are well aware that the kids are evil and plan on killing all of the adults but being adults, they believe they are doing the right thing by bringing the children inside and helping them. Their parental instincts kick in, and things suddenly go south. After a few expositional scenes that give us more information about each kid, all hell breaks loose, and this is where the movie gets most of its points from me. The children begin raining down death on the caring adults for roughly the last twenty minutes, and it's a sight to behold.

When it comes to the violence in the film, I think Devil Times Five is a sense of less is more. The movie isn't bloody or gory by any means but putting young tykes in these situations, where they are creating pretty inventive ways to kill off all of the adults in the film. I think for its time, it would have been pretty shocking for an audience to sit down and watch some of the scenes in the movie. We have some pretty excellent kill scenes, one involving a swing and a big sword. Watching Shelley Morrison from Will & Grace also being set on fire was a far cry from her Rosario character.

I think regarding suspense, the movie isn't terrifying. People who don't like horror movies may find a few moments in the film a little unsettling or uncomfortable but jump out of your seat moments, there aren't any of those moments in the film. The ending of the film is also a pretty bleak one. I liked that this wasn't a typical happy ending, but in saying that, the film never has a moment where the adults stand a chance. There aren't any conflicting scenes of the adults coming from a moralistic standpoint about killing kids. This is just kids killing adults, and that's about it.

Lastly, the acting in the film is hit and miss. The kids are all good for the most part. They spend their time being sinister and evil and all of them play it well enough. The only actress that I knew in this film was Shelley Morrison who is famous for her role as Rosario in Will & Grace. She plays an alcoholic woman who meets this pretty firey end. She was the standout for me, but I may be a little biased as I'm a big fan of her role as Rosario in Will & Grace.







DEATH TOLL: 9

BLOOD AND GORE:

- A person is killed in a car accident.
- Someone gets hanged.
- Someone is stabbed with a pitchfork and hit with hammers.
- A man has his throat slashed.
- Someone gets caught in several bear traps.
- A man is hit in the stomach with a sword.
- A woman is set on fire and burnt alive.
- A woman is stabbed in the throat with a spike.
- Someone is hit in the back of the head with a tomahawk.
- A woman is drowned in a bathtub.
- Piranhas are dropped into a bath.







Devil Times Five is a low-budget slasher that is at times silly and doesn't have much of a story at its core. If you want a pretty entertaining slasher film where very evil children murder and brutalise adults, you should enjoy this film for what it is. The movie has some pretty solid acting from the kids and a bleak ending. I think this movie could have tackled a moral dilemma about adults fighting back against the kids, but it's never touched upon. Still worth a once off watch.


2 comments:

  1. That is one cool poster. A lot of the films in your slasher retrospective seem to have awesome artwork for them. Evil kids and a few of the deaths in your Nitty Gritty section have sparked my interest, it's now on my watchlist :)

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    Replies
    1. That's the DVD cover. I tried finding a really great poster from when the film was released but they were all terrible. So I went with the DVD cover as it was leaps an bounds better.

      I think you can find this on YouTube.

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