TITLE: Devil Doll
YEAR RELEASE: 1964
CAST: Bryant Haliday, William Sylvester, Yvonne Romain
DARREN CHADWICK-HUSSEIN doesn’t much care for Devil Doll (1964) – read on to find out why
Let’s be honest. This isn’t a great film. It’s a badly-written, badly-lit story of an Evil Ventriloquist (is there any other kind?) and his possessed Dummy, Hugo.
The ventriloquist, The Great Vorelli (Bryant Halliday) is purposely unlikeable, spitting out lines like a Jurassic Park frilled lizard and tormenting his doll who is positively charming in comparison.
His act is essentially this: go on stage, torment the dummy, get it to walk across the stage and that’s it. It wouldn’t last five seconds on Britain’s Got Talent if there’s a dancing dog waiting in the wings. Vorelli is out to seduce the wealthy of Britain including the girlfriend (Yvonne Romain) of a lunkheaded American journalist played by William Sylvester.
But in there lies the charm of this movie. It’s a bit of a romp and the psychological horror is laid on pretty thick and Halliday is pretty effective in a role that redefines the boo-hiss villain.
However, what is even more delicious is the ribbing provided by the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 guys in one of their better episodes of the late nineties Sci-Fi Channel era. Having Vorelli look at the dummy next to him in the back of a taxi and hearing ‘You were a bitch to my mother this weekend’ adds a delicious extra dimension to the film. If you have a choice to watch it straight or with the MST3K crowd, go for the latter.
Not sure why this movie had to be cut to avoid an X rating. There’s a few droopy boobs on show and some ill-fitting showgirl dresses and a striptease (if you watch the uncut version) but don’t expect much more sixties sleaze you may have come to expect. There are better Possessed Dummy movies out there (Magic) but there are a lot worse. I mean, where else are you going to see a ventriloquist torment a dummy by denying them ham?