Monday, January 7, 2013

Devil Doll (1964)

Starring Bryant Haliday, William Sylvester, Yvonne Romain, Sandra Dorne, Nora Nicholson
Directed by Lindsay Shonteff
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A reporter investigates a hypnotist named The Great Vorelli, whose act includes a ventriloquist's dummy that seems to have a mind of its own.

This British horror film is quite good- it's not the first movie to mine chills from a creepy ventriloquist's dummy coming to life, but the scenes of the dummy, named Hugo, moving on its own, likely a short actor in a mask, are well-photographed, and genuinely eerie.  The film sets up a mystery around exactly why Hugo can walk and talk by itself, and I must admit it kept me guessing for a while.  The acting is strong throughout, with Haliday creating a sinister character through a menacing stare and almost whispered dialogue.  The only sequence that seems to strike a wrong note is Romain's character becoming incapacitated and bedridden, apparently purposefully by Vorelli, but it's never really explained why.

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