Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Devil Times Five (1974)

A transport van slides out on an icy road and rolls down a hill, expelling several children of varying ages. They immediately band together and trek through the winter wilderness until reaching a large cabin being used as a company retreat for a CEO and his top advisors and spouses to discuss an expansion of their psychiatric wards (how coincidental). The driver of the van wakes in the aftermath and frantically seeks out the children; finding them just as they reach the villa and paying a dear price because of it. The children regroup and are taken in by the vacationers who soon begin to realize this ragtag bunch may not be as innocent as they appear to be.

Ever see your mother half-consumed by piranhas and then dragged naked through the snow by a gang of sociopathic children? Leif Garrett has as he was cast as one of the kiddie killers alongside his real life mother playing one of our victims. I bring this up not only because knowing this fact makes the movie that much more enjoyable upon viewing, but also to illustrate how Devil Times Five refreshingly does not pull any punches simply because children are involved. Credit to overzealous stage parenting perhaps, but horror too often seems to get held back when wee ones are thrown into the mix and this made for a nice change of pace. Now there are probably not any "Helen Lovejoys" that read this blog, but just in case, in my defense, I would imagine that your average child working on a production and being able to see it from the backstage perspective would be more likely to not be frightened as those of us purposely scaring ourselves silly as we scoured late night cable long after the parents went to bed. I think I turned out okay (no counter arguments, please). Nonetheless, I am sidetracking myself here so allow me to reel my thoughts back in. Devil Times Five is fucking brutal. Okay, moving on.

On the flipside, I almost hasten to highlight the faults as they are miniscule, but in the interest of full disclosure, the score of Devil Times Five is consistently distracting as it would have played better accompanying a soapy melodrama than this nasty little slice of horror and there are some odd choices made in terms of film speed (See, even the complaints are a bit atypical). The opening wreck is clearly sped up to give the impression that the van was moving considerably faster than it was which just comes off as cartoonish. I almost expected a puff of kicked up dust to linger behind it ala the Roadrunner. This is thusly offset by half of the killings taking place is super slow motion including one that is the only black and white scene in the movie. What was that terrible movie about the 50s sitcom world that gets colorized when everyone starts screwing? And they were trying to be artsy. Come on, Devil Times Five, you're better than that.

Of course, I shiver to think what this means for the future of my half-written but eerily similar screenplay, Ghoul to the Square Root of 9, or The Circumference of a Witch, The Denominator, X=Death!, I could go on for days...

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