FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jan 11, 2007

Children Hate You Week: Day 4

Checking out the imdb page for today's feature, Devil Times Five (1974), I found that it's got a couple of alternate titles: People Toys and The Horrible House on the Hill. It's certainly not unusual for a film to have multiple titles; I was shocked, however, that this movie is not also known as The Most Boring Movie in the History of Ever Times Ten Million.

A van full of mental patient kiddies crashes on its way up a snowy mountain. The children (one who dresses up like a nun, one who dresses up like a soldier, one who likes fire, one just kinda there, and Leif Garrett) trudge through the snow and eventually come to a chalet where three couples are having a weekend getaway.

Mayhem ensues.

Actually, that's not true. Now is not the time for mayhem! Instead, let's watch the three couples bicker- isn't that exciting? No? Well, maybe you'll think it's exciting when I tell you that one of the wives is played by Shelley Morrison- Rosario of television's Will and Grace!

What? That's still not exciting? OK...then let's watch another one of the wives awkwardly try to seduce the chalet's "simple" handyman, Ralph (movie co-writer John Durren) ! Now that's exciting, lemme tell ya. Thrill! as Lovely (yes , her name is Lovely, and she's played by Leif Garrett's mom Carolyn Stellar) frightens both Ralph and the audience as she barks: "Ralph, put away my clothes! Brush my hair! Rub my feet! Pick me up! Put me down! Have you ever...had a woman, Ralph?"- to which Ralph replies, "I had a mother and two sisters. They got squished on a bus."

Fine, fine. I know what you horror fans want- on-screen kiddie violence! A pint-sized Leif Garrett wreaking havoc! That's what I wanted, anyway. Sadly, this doesn't occur for...oh, about another hour. There's one death to tide you over in the interim, however- the kids bludgeon their doctor in a scene that's shown in the slowest slow motion ever. Really. It was so slow I started to think there was something wrong with my brain. It was so dark I couldn't tell what was going on. It was so long I began to hope that someone would come along and bludgeon me. The scene was five minutes long- yes, I timed it. From the first whack to the last, it took five minutes. In the slowest slow motion ever. In that time I experienced an entire rainbow of feelings: I was bored, angry, joyful, sad, repentant, and delirious.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating, I want you to take a little test. Look at a clock and note the time. You could stare at the clock for five whole minutes, or, in that time, you could finish reading this review and leave a comment. You could make a grilled cheese sandwich- maybe even take a bite. You could listen to 4 songs by Bikini Kill...and so on. FIVE FUCKING MINUTES is a VERY LONG FUCKING TIME. Sorry , but I need to stress that.

After The Longest Kill Scene Evarrrrr, the children stay with the adults in the chalet, playing up their roles as innocent victims of a terrible van accident.

Mayhem ensues!

Wait, still not yet. First we must have long, drawn-out scenes wherein people eat dinner, play chess, do the dishes, drink wine, work out, go sledding...and on and on. Then Rosario enjoys a banana.

FINALLY, in the last 20 minutes or so, the action picks up. The kids really go to town on the adults and we get death by axe, death by fire, death by spear, death by pirahna (yes, you read that correctly), death by bear traps and throat slashing, and death by...a swing with a pointy stick attached.

Where, oh where had you been for the last 70 minutes, sociopathic violent kiddie action? Where? Had you been present throughout the proceedings, I may feel differently about you. Had you not shown me new depths of boredom- depths I sincerely hope I never visit again- I might even like you. But as it stands, I can only give you 4 out of 10 the two best things about this movie are the following: 1) the graphics of the title placard, and 2) when Leif Garrett falls from a ladder and exclaims "My face! Look what you've done to my beautiful face!"s.


Anonymous said...

Shelley Morrison, with a '70s pixie cut, eating a THAT, my friends, is pure horror...(Did you see her expression in that pic? I think she's been in to the 'luudes, man.)

Anonymous said...

I just watched this recently as well. I wasn't quite as bored, but I thought it could have been executed much better. It was a good idea and the film had some interesting scenes. I think the reason the film is so drawn out is that the original cut was about 40 minutes long, so they had to film some extra scenes to pad it out, which would explain why Leif Garret wears a really bad wig in some scenes and not in others.

Stacie Ponder said...

Ah, thanks cleared up my confusion. Leif Garrett's hair changed so much from time to time I thought maybe there were TWO actors playing the role or something.

It's too bad, when filmmakers decide to "pad" movies, they don't go back and write / add EXCITING bits. They always add useless scenes, or dinner scenes, or something...the boring stuff. Why not add some more kills? Well, I guess that would mean more actors, but still.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, more kills. The kids could have could have iced some topless hitchhiker, or!

Amanda By Night said...

I have a copy of this somewhere.

I think I'd double feature it with The Child.

I love bananas.

Anonymous said...

"There are things in this movie that would never be permitted in today's climate; for example, in one scene, a little girl and a novice nun (!) dump a bowl of piranha fish into a bathtub with a very full-breasted, naked woman, and her naked body is later shown being dragged through the snow by a group of kids whose average age is 12. To make matters even weirder, we later learn that the actress in question (Carolyn Stellar) was the mother of two of the children (Leif Garrett and Dawn Lyn)."

You should check out Tim Lucas' Video Watchblog for even more on Devil Times Five.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Leif Garrett say the same thing after he got in that car accident on CHiPs? : )

Anonymous said...

I just watched this. i found it disturbing that the Leif
Garrett kiddie would do a transvestite scene, very strange at such a 'tender age'. The slo-mo first murder is definitely the longest, and filmed in such shadowy light. Bad acting and I kept hoping the kids would get it or turnon themselves like the piranhas. Fat chance!
Just a weird movie, almost fun...

Anonymous said...

in rue morgue's recent review of the movie, it mentions that the director was an a "great drinker" who "never finished what he started," filming only 38 minutes before being kicked off the project. then the producers had to find away to make it feature length.