Devil Doll
Filmed in 1963, Released in 1964

Devil Doll

The Great Vorelli (Bryant Haliday) entertains theatre crowds with his lifelike dummy, Hugo, who talks, walks, and in a sinister twist, also kills. Watch out for those close-up shots of the dummy's shuffling feet. Danger ahead!  Reporter Mark English (William Sylvester) is determined to discover the secrets of  this amazing dummy so he asks his beautiful girlfriend, Marianne Horn (Yvonne Romain) to ask The Great Vorelli to perform at a country estate fundraiser. Attracted by Marianne's ravishing good looks, the devious ventriloquist-hypnotist agrees. But first he places her in a deep trance and commands her to obey his telepathic commands. After his finger snap, she remembers nothing  and soon finds herself drawn to Vorelli's bedroom for a midnight tryst. Haliday plays the evil trance master with a consistent  intensity: sweat on his brow; eyes slightly mad; finger touching the tip of  the sharp knife.    In fact, his performance gives this $75,000  low budget horror film the psychological suspense and eerie atmosphere necessary to carry the viewers' curiosity to the final strange twist ending when the souls of The Great Vorelli and Hugo are interchanged. By the way, the action sequences of Hugo were performed by  Sadie Corrie, a female midget, who later appeared in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), The Dark Crystal (1982), and Star Wars IV - Return of the Jedi (1983). 

This 1963 black and white horror film is  Canadian director Lindsey Shonteff's first full-length feature.  Well-known director Sidney Furie, although uncredited,  lent his support to Shonteff during the four-week shooting schedule. The Special Edition  DVD version distributed by Image Entertainment includes digitally remastered transfers of the U.K., and the "hot" Continental version, as well as a feature-length commentary by producer Richard Gordon and film historian Tom Weaver.  Although captivating at times, the movie is probably a must-have only for horror flick enthusiasts and collectors.

Copyright: Peter Fokes (2004)
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