Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Devil Dog Hound of Hell|
Actors: R.G. Armstrong, Martine Beswick, Jan Burrell, Jack Carol, Richard Crenna
Director: Curtis Harrington
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Media Blasters Inc. Release Date: 12/06/2005
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"Go ahead, hold him, he ain't gonna eat you up."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 10/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While I've never owned a possessed pooch like the one depicted in the made for television movie Devil Dog: The Hound from Hell (1978), I did once acquire a very naughty ferret, but that's another story for another time...directed by Curtis Harrington (Queen of Blood, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?), the film features Richard Crenna (First Blood, Summer Rental), Yvette Mimieux (The Time Machine, The Black Hole), and Kim Richards (Assault on Precinct 13, Tuff Turf) and Ike Eisenmann (Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan), both of whom you may remember as siblings Tia and Tony Malone, from the Disney feature Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), and the sequel Return from Witch Mountain (1978). Also appearing is Martine Beswick (Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde), Lou Frizzell (The Reivers), Ken Kercheval ("Dallas"), Victor Jory (Cat-Women of the Moon), and everyone's favorite curmudgeon R.G. Armstrong (Evilspeak, Children of the Corn).
As the film begins we see a slightly nefarious looking trio (including Martine Beswick) visiting a kennel to purchase dog, one which they later use in a chintzy black mass ceremony involving something called a `barghest, which is `a mythical monstrous black dog with huge teeth and claws', according to Wikipedia. Afterwards we meet the Barry family, including Mike (Crenna), the father, Betty (Mimieux), the mother, and their two children Charlie (Eisenmann) and Bonnie (Richards). Seems it's Bonnie's birthday, but the celebration is cut short as the family dog Skipper is found squished in the road outside the house (talk about a bummer). Oddly enough, that same day, a man (Armstrong) comes around selling fruit and giving away German Shepherd puppies, who happened to have been spawned from the dog we saw at the kennel. Bonnie takes one, names it Lucky, and her grief over the loss of Skipper diminishes significantly (apparently the family wasn't as attached to their previous dog as was initially indicated). Anyway, turns out Lucky is anything but, especially for Maria, the family's live-in housekeeper, who has serious concerns about Lucky from the get go, and gets hers soon enough (you see, because she was Catholic, with her rosary beads and funky candles, she had an extra sensitivity to all things evil and tried to warn Mike about the dog). Time passes and Lucky eventually putting the whammy on Betty, Charlie and Bonnie, resulting in them acting aloof and distant, much to Mike's concern. After a few more deaths, all involving people perceived as threats to Lucky's well being, Mike begins to believe there's some sort of evil conspiracy afoot, one that started about the same time he and his family took in Lucky. Finding little in the way of help from conventional sources, Mike travels to Ecuador to visit a shaman (Jory). Returning home, Mike must now confront the demon hound that has since taken hold of his family...
A movie with both Martine Beswick and Yvette Mimieux? I'm so down with that...okay, Ms. Beswick's screen time is all of about five minutes, but we do get plenty of Ms. Mimieux...homina homina...actually I think all the performers did pretty well (Crenna came off the best), especially considering the extremely hokum plot. I did learn a number of things, including the following...
1. A `barghest', which is `a mythical monstrous black dog with huge teeth and claws', isn't as scary as it may sound, especially when it's presented as a really cheap effect in a low budget television film.
2. Beware canines with glowing peepers, as they're probably infused with a demonic presence.
3. Never threaten to harm or kill a demon dog as it will end badly (for you, that is).
4. Yvette Mimieux is incredibly hot when she's being naughty.
5. If your children begin retreating to the attic to paint satanic images in blood and perform black mass ceremonies you might have a problem.
6. Richard Crenna is about the worst shot I've ever seen.
7. Demon dogs cast ginormous shadows.
8. One-eyed devils are none to bright but the three-eyed devils are the ones you have to watch out for because they're all seeing (you know, because of the three eyes and all).
9. Mirrors are especially useful in determining the state of someone's soul while they're sleeping (hold a mirror up to the face of a sleeping individual to see their true form, but beware, if they're possessed their visage will be kinda icky).
10. A demon dog, running in slow motion, actually runs faster than a car driving at normal speeds.
While the story material may have been goofy, the film succeeded for me mainly because it was presented in such a way that kept me engaged, and the cast was solid. Some of the effects were certainly bargain basement, but if you can get into the spirit of things, that won't really matter too much. Given this was a made for TV film there's no blood or real violence, but there are a few tense sequences, the one standing out in my mind including a whammified Crenna, his hand, and an overturned lawnmower. The film is more creepy than scary (the `demon' dog mainly lopes around, obviously performing as instructed by an off screen trainer), but, as I've mentioned, the performances are decent enough, along with the pacing, to keep one interested throughout.
This DVD release from Media Blaster/Shriek Show is actually a two disc set, the first disc containing the film, which is presented in fullscreen format. The picture quality is very clean and clear (and probably looks better than when you saw it in the 1970s), and the Dolby Digital mono audio available in both English and Italian, comes across very well. While most of the extras are on the second disc, the first one does include a handful of previews including Just Before Dawn (1981), Frankenstein's Bloody Terror (1968), The Being (1983), and Syndicate Sadists (1975). As far as the second disc, there's a new featurette titled `To the Devil a Dog', a new promotional trailer, a Martine Beswick photo gallery, a text interview with Ms. Beswick, a Curtis Harrington filmography, and an audio interview with Curtis Harrington himself, who, by the way, didn't seem to care much for the film mostly due to the fact he thought the plot ridiculous and the film under funded (the interview is worth listening to as Harrington tends to tell it `like it was', instead of sugarcoating things). All in all a superior release of a funky, yet fun, made for TV movie. I only wish more companies put this amount of effort into DVD releases as Media Blasters/Shriek Show did here.
Eeerie "B" Horror Movie Starring A Menacing Hound From Hell
Simon Davis | 05/06/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Being the avid horror movie fan that I am I was reflecting just prior to watching the 1978 Television movie "Devil Dog; The Hound of Hell", on what a great horror premise it was to have a seemingly lovable family dog as the gatekeeper to hell. Strangely from my recollection it has been an idea that has not been used a great deal in Hollywood horror film making. Apart from of course the famous hound in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Hound of the Baskervilles", and the menacing canine that appeared in the opening scenes of the wonderful 1976 horror thriller "The Omen", no other ones automatically spring to mind. "Devil Dog; The Hound of Hell", from the golden age of television movies in the 1970's and '80's has been referred to as being totally silly, banal, and a waste of film however I find its basic idea a highly intriguing one that has great potential. Obviously the film is hampered by its limited television budget in realising that great potential resulting in a number of anti-climatic scenes that miss out on real thrills and tend to fall a bit flat with the shoddy special effects at times being almost laughable. Nevertheless what we do still have here is a nifty little horror thriller that manages to offer good performances and some moments of real suspense. The film's main strong point is its first rate cast that includes the always capable Richard Crenna, the still alluring Yvette Mimieux (who I still remember fondly all these years later from the classic "The Time Machine") and talented child actors Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards reuniting here after having already played brother and sister in the much loved "Witch Mountain" Disney movies. All approach the subject matter with a real seriousness which helps overcome some of the more hokey parts of the story. Nostalgia buffs such as myself would have to admit that there have definately been scarier horror movies produced since the 1970's however as a fondly remembered effort from that now far off decade "Devil Dog; The Hound of Hell", makes very entertaining viewing. It's rather original for the time subject matter thus makes it a must see for those like myself, that love both eerie horror stories and the fondly remembered television films from the 1970's."
I love these old creepy made-for-TV movies!
elgrego99 | South Carolina | 04/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I vaguely remember seeing this on TV when I was in about 8th grade.
It's great to now be able to see made-for-TV movies like this once again.
The picture and sound were better than I expected...very pristine.
The bonus features went on...and on...and on... I actually thought that the interview footage could have been edited down to something shorter, actually. But, if you MUST have something to complain about, "too much" isn't so bad, is it?
This is a 2-disc set. What a lavish treatment for an obscure property such as this.
I wish someone would give similar treatment to some other obscure made-for-TV movies, such as "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark"..."Crowhaven Farm"..."Last Bride Of Salem"..."Dark Night Of The Scarecrow"...and other almost-forgotten treats.
Perfect horror experience
B. E Jackson | Pennsylvania | 03/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the scariest movies of all-time!! I was TOTALLY freaked out when I first watched this movie as a child. There are some scenes in movies such as the Grudge and the Ring that brought back memories of this movie (in fact, those same memories are why I came here and decided to write a review).
Something about the dreary setting and atmosphere of horror films they were making in the late 70's and early 80's really brought out the frightening experience to its ultimate potential, and this is yet another very good example of a horror storyline done right thanks in particular to a dark and dreary setting.
That dog gives me the creeps in ways I can't even explain, and the fact the dog takes over a family (except for the father/husband) really gives the entire experience even MORE of a powerful, uncomfortable thrill. I really believe the level of fear is right up there with the Exorcist.
Totally worth owning and watching over and over again. If you like the Grudge and the Ring, I guarantee there will be a few moments in this movie you will NOT feel comfortable watching with the lights out!!"