Reviews

Black Devil Doll From Hell (1984)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

We all know that if you have sex, you’re headed straight to hell. We all know that if you defile the Bible, you’re going straight to hell. So what happens to Helen when she fucks a wooden puppet and throws her Bible in the trash?

Helen: “I didn’t know it could be this beautiful . . . it really happened . . . it was marvelous.”

Black Devil Doll: “How d’ya like that, bitch? I’m gonna give ya a lesson in pain! I’m gonna FUCK YOU!”

Helen: “Oh yes, my puppet!”

In an unknown bizarro world, Richard Pryor and John Waters got together over lunch, shot the shit, and left with a napkin-scrawled script. One camcorder later and you do the math. This is Black Devil Doll From Hell, the early SOV cesspool from the enigmatic Chester N. Turner. Easily the most vile, deranged, and hysterical film to ever be scored with a Casiotone, Black Devil Doll‘s flamboyance cannot be overstated. Forget the tug between “good” and “bad” filmmaking; there’s nothing else like this anywhere on the planet. And there never will be again.

A quiet Sunday at mass. A curbside stereo salesman. A religious knick-knack montage. And Helen! Helen (Shirley L. Jones) is a God-fearing Catholic, forever suppressing her “fornicating” desires. After the chance discovery of a ventriloquist dummy in an antique shop, Helen lets loose. Enticed by the shopkeeper’s hard sell (“It will grant any heartfelt wish, and always returns to the store.”), Helen grabs the doll and heads for home. The doll sets up shop in his new digs — on top of the toilet. Helen massages his corn rows and wraps his arms in nylons, saying “These will make you a shade darker.” Helen soaps up in the shower and begins fantasizing about sex with her new friend. Suppress, Helen, SUPPRESS! Too late. That night, the Devil Doll awakens. Love is in the air.

Is it offensive? No question. Will I ever watch it again? I already have, at least four times. Black Devil Doll remains relentless in its unsettling hilarity, taking the baton from 555 and hitting new highs/lows in sustained SOV dirtiness. From the sex-infused religious morality to the lowest of low in extended hump scenes (boobs, sweat, puppet, nothing else), director Turner lays the skank on thick. Witness a little kid standing in for the Doll’s movements. Listen to extended disco jamz at hole-in-the-wall joint Elmo’s Lounge. Marvel at pre-sex smoke bombs in Black Devil Doll’s mouth. Shudder at a long, wet puppet tongue, covered in mayonnaise. Impossible to summarize and exhaustive overall, this is 1980s sleaze at its most engaging — filthy, but unthinkable to take at face value. The ultimate degenerate party film.

And what about Chester N. Turner himself? Mr. Turner went on to video-cam the life-enriching Tales From The Quadead Zone in 1987. Then he disappeared. Possibly, he stopped making films to do something “better.” I guess we all have to make sacrifices for a higher cause.

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