Friday, July 07, 2017

186. Devil Times Five

186. Devil Times Five aka Peopletoys (1974)
Directors: Sean MacGregor and David Sheldon
Writers: Sandra Lee Blowitz and John Durren from a story by Dylan Jones
From: Chilling
Watch: archive.org
Five children escape from a mental hospital and start killing people in an isolated ski cabin.
This is one of those movies that forgets to do the work of getting around to what it’s actually about. The movie’s about killer kids. What do we get for the first thirty minutes? Kids walking through the snow while the various people in the house bicker with each other. Let’s get to it faster than the movie does, then, shall we?

During the ten-minute opening credit sequence, the van transporting the children crashes and they’re seemingly the only survivors. They start walking through the snow. Meanwhile, the main couple is heading to the lodge where the woman’s father, Papa Doc is waiting with his latest wife, Lovely, his assistant, Harvey, and Harvey’s wife, an alcoholic. Upon arrival, Papa Doc promises a big hospital job to his future son-in-law, a job that had been promised to Harvey, and chastises the son-in-law-to-be for not having a proper work ethic.

They all go to the house, pointless drama ensues with Lovely trying to seduce the mentally-impaired maintenance man, Ralph (who directly invokes Of Mice and Men by petting her hair, saying it’s soft like a rabbit, and then going to tend to his rabbits. Eye-rolling cultural references are my job movie, not yours). They’re interrupted by the daughter who then gets into a fight with Lovely when Lovely says she slept with the daughter’s boyfriend.

Further personal drama that doesn’t matter but allows nudity continues because, ultimately, this is an exploitation film that’s only promising two things: killer kids and tits. Since it only has those two things to offer, it drags out their appearances as long as possible.

The kids spot the house, but realize they’re being followed by someone from the van so set up an ambush for him. They beat him to death in an extended slow-motion scene where each frame of the film is visible for an extended period. They didn’t shoot it in slow-mo, they just slowed the film down. It doesn’t make the scene more shocking or brutal, it just makes it all last longer.

They go into the house, adults meet them and start to recognize their quirks. The five kids are, basically, the pyro, the baby, the soldier, the nun, and David played by Leif Garrett. David is the genius/transvestite because I guess the movie wanted both but couldn’t figure out how to make it work. The kids rig a trap on the diesel generator that hangs Ralph (forty-five minutes into the movie) and then proceed to start killing everyone else. It takes forever and they resort to slow-mo periodically to frustrate the audience even more.

I'd rather be watching Red Dwarf
The deaths aren’t really impressive or memorable so I won’t go through them except to mention the final one—everyone’s been killed by the kids except the son-in-law-to-be. While the kids are making a snowman out of Papa Doc’s body, the guy tries to sneak out the back door only to step in a hidden bear trap. He then falls into two more. Then the kids come over and beat him to death. The film wraps up with all the bodies being used like dolls in the attic of the building and the kids deciding they need to leave “to find new toys.” Closing title card comes up reading, “THE BEGINNING.”

Bite me movie. It’s boring which is sort of worse than any other sin a movie can commit. It’s formulaic in a dull way and none of the character—killers or victims—stand out. Plus it takes too long to get to the subject of the movie: a group of people trying to survive the attention of murderous children. I could talk about the politics of it a little bit, about the vilification of children to then permit harsher controls being inflicted upon them in schools and by police, which does come up in the culture. Whenever you see mention of “Super Predators,” that’s what’s ultimately being argued for. They’re trying to convince you to be afraid of your own kids so that you’ll allow more draconian state control over them. But that’s a deep rabbit hole that this movie doesn’t warrant. It’s just boring.

However, it is free. The movie is public domain and while my copy has a Mill Creek logo smeared across it preventing further re-use, a remastered and properly cropped version is available on archive.org here. Obviously I’m not recommending it, but it’s there if you’re curious or want to use it in some way.

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