Among B movie enthusiasts (and those who have reviewed them for several years) nothing is as odious or unpleasant as a C movie. Blessed with neither the budget, original concept nor production values of even the most obscure cult classic film, these sorts of flicks occupy a dark dubious, place with the most improbable, almost offensive attempt at entertaining an “normal” audience, right along with snuff films and “hard crush” fetish videos. I had thought I had seen the last of such films when I stopped reviewing obscure garbage for exploitation retrospect from retailers so sketch that they couldn’t even sell their wares on amazon, but sure enough a no budget double feature has found its way into my possession from Massacre video. Let us look into the box of horror that is the films of Chester Novell Turner and try and ask ourselves why some titles were not allowed to expire with the VHS format.
BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL (1984)
Three years before the highly amusing killer doll movie “CHILD’S PLAY” from MGM came the story of an African American Doll that shouldn’t be played with (literally). Helen is a sweet church going spinster who preaches morality to her promiscuous friend as well as the neighborhood thug who tries to sell her obvious hot merchandise from the back of his car. She is lonely however, and sexually frustrated as any 40 year old virgin. This is perhaps why she purchases a bizarre, large doll from a second hand store when the shopkeeper informs her that the doll is known to grant its owners their most heartfelt wish. Because there isn’t much horror potential in any fright film about protagonists who only make good decisions she soon brings the doll home and interacts with it as if it was a small child, perhaps even a companion or would be lover. This proves to be a terrible idea as the doll comes to life (well kind of) and rapes Helen in her bed in an epileptic, crudely manipulated fashion that makes you not so much sympathize with the violation of the woman but hope that the actress playing her (Shirley L Jones) didn’t get any splinters from this crude cobbled together prop being repeatedly thrust at her. There are some scenes where the wooden doll is replaced with a child actor for some of the attack scenes, but it will make the viewer cringe for the wrong reasons, simply because you hope that the young actor had no exposure to the more graphic scenes of R rated rape during filming. Far from being a cautionary tale, this experience turns poor Helen into a ravenous danger slut who has sex with every man she can find only to realize that is only the doll that can quell her urges. He does too, in exactly the way you might expect. Jumpy picture quality, camcorder cinematography and a soundtrack that sounds like it was provided by a child’s toy Casio organ makes this sheer unpleasant. If you like the concept of this sort of film and want to see something a little less commercial than the “Chuckie” movies I recommend MAGIC starring a young Anthony Hopkins, TRILOGY OF TERROR featuring that Iconic Zuni doll, or just about any Full Moon Feature because half of them have this same basic plot (minus the sexual assault of course). The crummy effect work in this film makes Charles Bands ever-present puppet fuckery look like James Cameron’s AVATAR by comparison.
TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE (1987)
Do you like horror anthologies? Well here is another one with the prequisite wraparound story. Shirley Jones is back as a devoted mother who reads her recently deceased son a bedtime story from his favorite book, a gilded edge tome that is obviously a King James Bible with the cover reading “Tales from The Quadead Zone”, written in crude magic marker. Here they are.
Food For? In this original take on a whole different type of “hunger games” the patriarch of a large family says grace before the meal thanking God for his bounty but then states sadly, matter of fact, that there are eight people present and only food enough for four. This leads to a mad grab dash as the family all reaches for a sandwich at the same time. On a future meal the largest, (hungriest?) brother doesn’t like these “serving suggestions” so he brings his shotgun to the table and starts changing the ratio of extra sandwiches to dead kin in perhaps the most efficient way possible. It ends like a teenage sex comedy as we find out the ultimate fate of the family by reading the captions below their pictures which flash in montage in the closing moments. It turned out everyone is dead, in witness protection or in the case of the gunman “Sent to the Gas Chair”. THE GAS CHAIR??? It could have been worse, I suppose. They could have sentenced him to death by “hanging squad” or “the electric guillotine”.
The Brothers: A ponderous tale where a brother exacts his revenge on his older sibling by kidnapping his dead body from a mortuary, dressing it up as a clown and burying it in a foot deep grave. But unluckily for him, some terrible public access special effect somehow reanimates the corpse and it comes to life at the worst possible moment. At least he will die laughing? You won’t be.
Unseen Vision: this is the tale which talks about the death of the little ghost boy Bobby. Because dead children are one of the few things I never joke about in a review and perhaps moreover, because I want to not give the ending away to at least one of these stupid tales, you will have to figure that one on out for your own and decide how much it sucks for yourselves. At least it has the same four note keyboard themes, shit camera work and all production values you might expect from a late night commercial from a waterbed store from the 1980’s as the previous film.
Critics everywhere admit these are two of the worst underground films ever made and also that people who take it seriously are not getting the point of this long lost, sought after cult classic in DVD form. I say that when it comes to crap film, irony only exists when the “awful” is unintentionally artful as seen some years later, not when every sight, sound and scene of a movie has and will always look like diarrhea pressed to DVD.
Special Features include Commentary tracks with Chester Turner and Shirley L Jones. This also includes trailers and a still gallery. Lah-di-fucking da.