Monday, February 20, 2012

Mill Creek Must See: Devil Times Five, aka Peopletoys (Seriously! PEOPLETOYS!)

I have something to say, and it might not make you happy but here goes:
I’m mad at you.
All of you. 

Specifically, any one of you readers who knew about Devil Times Five--also known by the far superior title Peopletoys--and didn’t tell me about it. (For the record, the one and only Wayne Kotke of Dead 2 Rights and Thomas D of Cinema Gonzo are excused from my vitriol.) This is a movie that features homicidal children, snow, the maid from Troop Beverly Hills, bear traps, kids in drag, farmer tanned naked buttocks, catfights, Boss Hog, and death by piranha.

People: I’m 30 years old. Do you know how many times I could’ve watched this movie by now had I known about it earlier? 
I hate you all.
Quick Plot: While transferring five violently insane children, a schoolbus crashes on a snowy mountain road, releasing the preteen terrors upon a gaggle of very ‘70s adults doing some sort of work/vacation/drunk/surly/thing. 

No seriously, I don’t really get it.
There’s the best named character of all time, Papa Doc, a wealthy but miserly grump with a sexy girlfriend named--not kidding--Lovely, who would rather be seducing the slow-witted caretaker Ralph. 
And really, who wouldn't?
Lovely’s ex Rick is now dating Papa Doc’s daughter Julie, keeping the group closely connected in a rather weird way. Last is Dr. Harvey Beckman (Sorrell Brooke) and his hilariously alcoholic wife Ruth (Shelley Morrison). 

I love movies with funny drunks. Well, to be clear, I love ‘70s movies with funny drunks. Especially when the other characters do nothing but roll their eyes at said lush’s antics or shout lines like “Listen you boozed up old broad!” It just makes life better.
Playing on the other team is a quintet of demons with various ticks. There’s Brian, the boy obsessed with military speak. Sister Hannah, a wannabe nun who would terrify my mother. Like any wacky sociopath, Susan loves fire and her little sister Moe, well, Moe is just odd. Leading the group is David (Leif Garrett), a competitive little jerk who doesn’t take kindly to losing, especially not to HARVEY BECKMAN!

After the kids fake a sob story to the adults about their accident, it doesn’t take too long for the killing to start. I should rephrase since the first murder goes on for about as long as Birth of a Nation. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration since Devil Times Five is only a 90 minute movie, but when everything happppppeeeeeennnnnnnnnns iiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnn slooooooowwwww moooooooosssssssshhhhhhhhhonnnnnnnnnnn, even a pitchfork stabbing, hammering, and beating over the head scored to the sounds of an angry giraffe getting a massage feels like eternity.

But hey, I can’t complain when we’ve still got a woman getting eaten by piranhas to enjoy! Not to mention the fact that even BEFORE the 9000 year killing, we got a random catfight complete with spy music and messy slapping. AFTERWARDS, we get axings, people set on fire, military booby traps, constant utterances of the words “Papa Doc,” and crazy stock 1950s UFO whistling to establish the fact that something is amiss. 

It’s all so much more wonderful than these words here are possibly describing.
High Points
Everything. No really, everything

Low Points
Nothing. Nothing at all. This is perfection on your screen
Lessons Learned
Lousy maniac drivers don’t deserve medals

Continually telling a sour child that he chops wood like a little girl might not be the best way to not make him want to chop your head off

In tennis there is a term called ‘following through’

Bath Alert
“No, YOU sit here and relax! I’m going to go take a bath cause if I don’t, I’m never going to make it to morning.”

Ahh, the adorable naivety of a woman in a genre film who would dare to believe sitting in a tub wouldn’t kill her
The Winning Line
“Have you laid her?”
Yeah. She asked in that way.
Available on Mill Creek’s 50 Chilling Classics pack or streaming on youtube like many a fine public domain title, Devil Times Five is crammed from beginning to end with things designed to make me happy. The kids are genuine little monsters who take sadistic pleasure in torturing entertainingly unlikable grownups. It’s occasionally unnerving (I don’t want to die as a human snowman) but more often than not, cheesily wonderful. Whether credit goes to listed director Sean MacGregor or the mysteriously uncredited (except on IMDB) David Sheldon I don’t know, but everyone involved in Peopletoys deserves a cake. Or a medal. Or a loaded gun irresponsibly hung on a wall in a roomful of damaged children. Whatever your candy is, take it. You deserve it.

On the night that I watched Devil Times Five, I woke up at 4:46 AM from a fairly awesome nightmare. It starred a young, skinny, and BLOND Delta Burke (although it looked more like Joan Collins circa I Don't Want To Be Born but everyone kept referring to her as Delta Burke, so the details of dreamland are hazy) as she ran through the woods to flee a horde of nasty little children. Like Devil Times Five, the kids were groovy. The details are foggy, but one key detail involved a bratty little blond picking up a chainsaw but resorting to using sticks when he realized how heavy that machinery was. See, even the DREAMS that happened after this movie were super. 


  1. When I watched this, it took me longer than I'm proud to admit before I realized that the nun was one of the kids! *hangs head*

    Since I'm most likely not going to get anything posted in time for The Shortening, I'd might as well reveal the big Shortning surprise of The Adventures of Fu Manchu-in one episode, Fu sends his vertically challenged henchman Kolb to assassinate someone, leading to the little person shooting with a sniper rifle! It's as unexpected and adorable as you'd expect! haha!

  2. I really like this one - mostly because the kids are genuinely weird and more than a little insane. I hate killer kid movies where the kids just stand there like little emotionless stone-faced zombies. Not scary. These kids though...

    And seriously, Peopletoys? How awesome is that?

  3. I can see that Chris. She's taller than the other kids and, you know, dressed like a nun. It's deceiving.

    And that Fu Manchu henchman sounds SERIOUSLY adorable! There's still another 9 days! Maybe technology will shine up the short!

    Eric, if I had to amend the low notes, it'd be that the film DIDN'T keep the title Peopletoys. Because SERIOUSLY! PEOPLETOYS!!! and I love that the kids have so much fun doing the killing. I guess that's what separates the good ones--Bloody Birthday, Peopletoys, The Children '08--from the blander Case 39s.

  4. I *think* I own this movie. I have a couple of those 100-movie Mill Creek packs, and the 50 Chilling Classics makes up half of the Tales of Horror box. MC sometimes rotates their films, but I'm 95.2% confident I have this.

    And I've been missing out on this goodness! Boo, hiss, cry!

    Now, if I can just figure out which box it's in. This will be on my to watch ASAP list.


  5. Ha ha, this movie IS pretty awesome! Where else can you see Sorrell "Boss Hogg" Booke, Shelley "Rosario" Morrison and Leif "I Was Made For Dancin'" Garrett together in one place? In Devil Times Five, that's where!

    Apparently this movie needed reshoots at one point, so you may have noticed that Leif's hair length changes in several scenes from long to short--so much for continuity!

    Speaking of Leif, he co-starred with his real life mom (Carolyn Stellar--Lovely) and sister (Dawn Lyn--Moe) which is kind of interesting. Also he plays a cross dressing psycho in this film. Years later in the late 80's he played yet another cross dressing psycho in Party Line (hmm...typecasting?), a film I enjoy because it's cheesy and sleazy--check it out, if you haven't already :)

  6. Let's see Burgundy, if you have the same Chilling Classics edition as I do (with the skull on the front) then Devil Times Five is on the same disc as A Bassenger to Bali, Funeral Home, and the very tempting-sounding Lady Frankenstein. Godspeed and good luck!

    Oh Dorian, continuity is really just a perk. No, it's like frosting! With Devil Times Five, the cake is so good, who needs it?! Who needs it I ask?! And I had no idea there was so much family connection in the film. I feel like I should watch it again right now just to look for all of these things (or use that as an excuse to watch it again).

    And I know nothing of Party Line. Investigate I shall!

  7. But the fact remains: you knew about this for DEVIL TIMES 5 YEARS and never sent killer children to threaten me until I watched it? I've got four neighbors tied up and eyes open (Clockwork Orange style, natch) sitting at home, faces aimed at my TV with this on loop. This movie requires proactive pressure!

  8. I'm so glad you liked this one. A while back, I went through the entire Chilling Classics set and reviewed every last film over the course of a couple of months. The films got to be kind of same-y and monotonous towards the middle -- I grouped them by IMDb rating from lowest to highest, so there was a big glut of mediocrity at the midway point -- and then Devil Times Five came into my life. It was like a gift from movie heaven, except for that slow-mo sequence. It felt like it could have fit in between Female Trouble and Desperate Living in John Waters' filmography.

    Another great find from Mill Creek is a movie called Malibu High -- not to be confused with the boring and generic Malibu Beach. Both of those movies are in some Mill Creek set called Drive In Cult Classics, but Malibu H-I-G-H is the movie you want/need to see. (The film's alternate title is even better: Death in Denim.) I loved it so much I don't even want to spoil it, but like Devil Times Five it's a violent exploitation picture that goes completely bonkers, as if the cast and crew had nothing to lose. Avoid Malibu Beach, unless "Greg Marmalard" from Animal House is your idea of a compelling protagonist.

  9. I was trying so very hard to get through one disc at a time, but it's not an easy feat. Your strength is legendary.

    I have the Drive-In set, so I'll be sure to check out Malibu High. And WOW, Death In Denin is almost as good a title as Peopletoys!

  10. I originally saw this movie on TV as a kid (maybe 8 or 9), but didn't know or remember the title. It scared the shit out of me though, and I always had it in the back of my mind. I made it a point to watch any killer kid movies, hoping I would happen upon it, and I did on VHS maybe 10 years ago. I even have an original one-sheet (under the DEVIL TIMES FIVE title), and there can't be too many of those floating about. I pushed the movie on to people with my VHS copy, but now that shit is on DVD, the cat is out of the bag (which is ultimately a good thing).

    A couple of notes:
    -the original cut of the movie was solely directed by Sean MacGregor and it ran around 40 minutes. It was basically all the scenes with the kids. Producer David Sheldon then shot footage to pad out the movie, which is most of the dialogue between the adults, and the five minute killing was dragged out to pad the running time also. He also added the closeup of the badge on the bus drivers shirt to make the point that the kids were from an insane asylum. I believe Sean MacGregor originally wanted no explanation as to why the kids would start killing people (which is one thing I really like about the movie).

    -I've mentioned before that Sister Hannah, for me, is one of the creepiest movie villains ever. Supposedly, she was 14-16 years old and dating MacGregor at the time of filming.

    -The girl that throws the piranhas in the bathtub with the naked lady is actually her daughter, and she's also Leif Garrett's sister.

    -I flirted with the idea ten years ago of doing my own fan edit of the movie to improve the pace, but my VHS was copyrighted and I gave up. It's something I might revisit at some point.

    -I'm watching SUPER 8 as we speak, and guess who the stunt coordinator is? Why, Tierre Turner, who plays the soldier kid in, you guessed it, DEVIL TIMES FIVE.

    -I like the hidden bottle of J & B in your review. That's very GGTMC of you.

    -Oh yeah, and DEVIL TIMES FIVE might be a little slow, but it still fucking rules.

  11. If you're a fan of catfights in cheesy horror, you MUST check out this:

    Your review reminded me of "There's Nothing out There", a flick from '89 or so that I reviewed last year. It should be right up your alley, as it also has a tiny monster, a sort of green trash bag with eyes that mind controls bikini girls to make them fight. Why? Does there have to be a reason? :D It's one of the more enjoyable 'small monster' movies I've seen, despite its micro-budget.

  12. Many points to make here. Primarily, this is an A+ comment.

    1-I am jealous of your one-sheet. I hope it's framed and illuminated by soft but elegant track lighting.

    2-I find it fascinating that some one could film an entire movie before realizing it's 40 minutes too short to sell. I can understand coming just shy of 75 minutes, but 40 MINUTES!

    3-Sister Hannah is easily the creepiest because, sheesh, what kid WANTS to be a nun? I guess one played by a tween dating an adult...

    4-I wish MY family bonded by filming killer kid movies about piranhas. We did zombies. How silly of us.

    5-DO IT!

    6-Now I have to like Super 8, if only for its Dx5 connection.

    7-I like that she drinks it!!!

    8-Fuck yeah it does!

  13. Sounds awesome Trever! Consider it safely cruising on my radar.

  14. You can add me to your shit list, Emily... and for that, I am sorry.

    I have only seen DX5 once, and my memory is sort of foggy about it (I definitely forgot about the slo-mo death scene!), but it left an impression on me for being soooooo odd but utterly entertaining. I need to revisit it again, if not just to hear that lovely soundtrack once more!

  15. Et tu, Matt-su?

    The only way you can make it up to me is by stopping whatever you're doing right now--seriously, if you're holding a baby or a taco, drop it immediately--and watch this movie. Otherwise, I will hate you forever.

    Okay I totally won't because I'm incapable of such a thing, but seriously: eff the baby tacos. Watch Peopletoys.

  16. And you can add me as well to the list. For a cheesy movie, this one unnerved me. And here's a comment about it, a year past your post.

  17. It's never too late, especially when it comes to Peopletoys!