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Review: Devil Times Five (1974)

Reviewer: Lance Vaughan


Three couples meet at an isolated lodge to discuss business, drink heavily, seduce each others spouses, engage in half hearted catfights, and sexually assault a mentally challenged caretaker who talks to bunnies. Their dysfunctional function is thwarted by the arrival of five dangerously psychotic children whose shortbus crashed in the woods nearby. Taking the lunatic moppets in, the three couples and the half-wit handyman find their numbers quickly dwindling as their lives are cut short in increasingly bizarre ways.

The five Devilish children are an entertaining and charismatic bunch. There’s an albino dressed in nun garb who stabs you when you get stuck in a bear trap, a shy wallflower who sets you on fire, a vain pansexual who’ll throw a spear at you, and a booby trap enthusiast in military fatigues who’ll take you down with a machete enhanced swing. My favorite is the little girl who drags a plush fish around with her, which foreshadows the fact that she wants to fill your bathtub with live piranhas.

IMDB fanatics will find many b-listers to cross reference in the cast. There’s Sorrell Booke (You know him as Boss Hog), Shelley Morrison (Rosario on WILL AND GRACE), and the amazing genius, Leif Garrett, who starred in the spectacular CHEERLEADER CAMP. Leif’s kid sis and mom are also on hand and I’m pretty sure they make cinema history together. Can you think of any other movie where a mother’s topless scene is cut short when her real-life prepubescent daughter begins pelting her with dead fish? Well, can you?

Unfortunately DX5 was a troubled production. The original director was only capable of producing about forty minutes of usable footage. Another director was called in to film filler to expand the movie’s running time. Sometimes it works, like in the aforementioned catfight sequence, which although arbitrary and inconsequential, is still hilarious. Other times it doesn’t, like when you’re forced to endure a five-minute barely visible sepia toned murder in excruciating slow motion. You may also be put off by the fact that Leif Garrett’s hair length changes dramatically from scene to scene or that the guy who plays the bus driver is played by three different actors.

Although the beginning of the movie will certainly test your patience, once the shit starts hitting the fan you will be glued to your seat, and the final 30 minutes or so are slasher heaven. Even taking the films inadequacies into account, it can’t be denied that DX5 holds a certain creepy charm. The snowy grey landscape and downbeat nihilistic ending are actually mighty effective, and the kills are creative and wonderfully macabre. Filmed as PEOPLE TOYS and released with alternative titles like TANTRUMS and THE HORRIBLE HOUSE ON THE HILL, DEVIL TIMES FIVE is perfect midnight movie material. Just don’t be afraid to use the fast forward button.



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