Sunday, July 8, 2012


This just may be the worst horror film ever unleashed on video. Yes...even worse than MANOS: HANDS OF FATE and maybe even Adam Sandler's JACK AND JILL

Clumsily shot on a camcorder and obviously edited between two VHS decks, BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL actually made it to some videostore shelves back in the 80s. I pity the fools that actually rented it and took it home as their solitary entertainment for the night.

The opening credits seem punched out with a Dymo gun, set against ragged blackground with a proto-sludge theme song. 
It takes almost seven minutes just to get to Chester N. Turner's director credit, before the movie crawls along for another hour. Including end credits. But it seems much, much longer. Unfortunately, any promise the theme song offers is replaced by a Casio-generated soundtrack that’s about as ambitious as alternating notes.

The story that follows is just as bad, gawdawful in concept and even worse in execution…

Shirley Jones (not that one) plays Helen, a god-fearin’ church lady that — after an interminable amount of churchgoin’ and talkin’ on the phone about goin’ to church and putterin’ about her lousy house packed with Christian ephemera — picks up a dreadlocked ventriloquist’s dummy at a knick-knack store run by an obvious hoodoo midget. 

The shopkeeper warns her of…something. Something bad. I think. When she opens her mouth the Casio soundtrack really starts to squeal. At first it seems like an audio howl, but eventually it begins to alternate in tone, kind of like music. But not quite. Since Helen can’t hear the warning over the feedback, she takes the dummy home and proceeds to prop it up on a toilet so that it can watch her take a shower.

Let’s just say this…Shirley Jones isn’t someone you’d expect to get naked and lather up for the camera. And she gets kind of enthusiastic about the lathering, too…fantasizing about getting some dummy action. Hoo boy. But she gets non- plussed at the direction her flush is taking her, so she throws her new li'l frien' in the closet for the night…

...and wakes up tied to the bedposts as the ol' devil doll (some unholy mash-up between Rick James and Michael Jackson) crawls up under the blanket with a “Now that you have smelled the foulness of my breath, you may now taste the sweetness of my tongue.”

Yeah. It goes there...

 ...and she likes it. Soooooooo, then…

She wakes up the next morning with the dummy gone and not even a thank-you note. But Helen's found herself a new religion and tosses bible and Chick tracts in the trashcan before trollin’ the neighborhood for some manmeat to fill that void the dummy has left twixt her nethers. After a couple of awkward couplings, she finds there ain’t no substitute for the real wood. So to speak. Fortunately she has a Casio-free flashback from the midget warning her that the devil doll likes to return to the shop on its own, so…

Yeah. It ends pretty much how you’d expect it to end.

But I have to hand it to Jones…while not a competent actor she’s at least committed when it comes down to getting naked and simulating the nasty with a foul-mouthed ventriloquist’s dummy. 

I suspect that gutter auteur Chester N. Turner was just committed. Or should have been.

Although he returned a few years later with the slightly more watchable* TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE, he‘s kind of disappeared himself. Rumor has it that he died in a car crash back in the nineties, although one wouldn’t be faulted for suspecting that he faked his own death to escape whatever notoriety he’d managed to achieve.

I also suspect that if it weren’t for some dude named David Ichikawa (who supplies the theme song and is credited with re-editing) this thing would never have survived until the dawn of the internets. 

Thanks, David...I think.

*Completely arguable...but Quadead has a legitamate deranged charm to it, sorta like a Daniel Johnston song. It takes some effort to get through, but at least the surrealism seems intentional.

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