Greetings, and welcome to VIEWING THE CLASSICS. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage movies from the early days of cinema through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find a Film Index of all my reviews, links to the reviews organized by cast members, directors, and other contributors, and links to my reviews of the films of talented young director Joshua Kennedy.

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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

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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