Damn I love a mystery, in the movies but even more in real life.
If the mystery involves a bad filmmaker, well then Hell yeah,
I'm very tickled. My latest mystery is Sean MacGregor, director
of DEVIL TIMES FIVE. Where did he go, why did he go? A guy makes
a film that features a roving band of killer kids, shows some
real promise and then "POOF!" It wasn't even his first
film, he had already did a pro-Native American tale with the likable
tough guy William Smith in GENTLE SAVAGE and had defended the
fruit pickers in the rarity NIGHTMARE COUNTY. But I declare
TIMES FIVE is MacGregor's TITANTIC.
Set in 1974, the year it was made, it is the story of Rick, who
is a doctor and his lovely gal pal Julie. The 2 of them are off
for a weekend to a winter hideway at a place owned by Julie's
father. Everyone refers to this crusty old hard ass as Papa Doc.
Papa Doc is looking to hire Rick to oversee some new clinic he
is building. Also hanging out for the weekend is another medical
professional, Harvey Beckman and his alcoholic wife, Ruth. Papa
Doc's extra horny wife, Lovely is along, as well. Papa Doc also
has a caretaker of sorts at his posh, winter digs, Ralph, a retard
with a heart of gold, who raises his bunnies and cooks, cleans
and does maintenance for the Papa Doc klan.
That is only one group dynamic in DEVIL TIMES FIVE, the other
group of note is the five kids who have just survived the crash
of their "short bus" on the slippery roadways near Papa
Doc's icy retreat. There's David, Moe, Sister Hannah, Brian and
Susan. These five seem like nice kids initially, but we find out
via voiceover that they do not want to go back from where they
came and there is also an adult who survived the crash, and he
is on their trail.
Needless to say these 2 groups of people converge and therein
lies our story. MacGregor, in the opening sequences that lead
us to this point, uses some of the tools of the trade that most
film viewers find, for lack of a better word, bad. But you know
me, I'm looking for that element as a barometer to guage what
the true "quality" of the film is or even might have
been. First of all it takes us till around the 8 minute mark before
the credits are completely through rolling, they start at about
the 20 second mark of the feature. Credits are very important,
we learn that John Durren penned DEVIL TIMES FIVE, his other writing
credit, the Arthur Marks' effort THE ROOMMATES. We will also soon
find out that Durren is Ralph, the retard, who better to play
the 'tard than the writer I ask? During this elongated credit
sequence we also get a bit of the childish flirting between Rick
and Julie's characters. Rick is supposed to be sexy I think. Taylor
Lacher, who would give Fred Dryer a run for his money in the tall,
balding, skintight pant-wearing, non-stud who thinks he's a stud
department delivers Rick, on a platter and I guarantee Mr. Lacher
was adlibbing considerably. Julie (Joan McCall) is the cutie pie
mousy blond that you had better remember as Allison from Billy
Girdler's all important GRIZZLY, as well as Helen in his PROJECT
KILL. She also showed up as a rape victim turned vigilante in
RAPE SQUAD, reviewed here at Brains on Film. RAPE
SQUAD featured Peter Brown as a rapist, Brown produced MacGregor's
GENTLE SAVAGE, mentioned earlier. Sheeew. Incestuous, yes, but
that was the way in the early 70's, many folks worked together
to get projects completed. Joan is married to Girdler's
Hollywood producer David Sheldon, who co-wrote SHEBA, BABY and
GRIZZLY as well as produced both of those and PROJECT KILL for
Mr. G. If you want enough William Girdler info to choke a horse,
get you get your ass over to www.williamgirdler.com
and read up on this Kentucky native who was taken from us prematurely.
As the credits creep along the van winds around the snowy curves
and the Caddy that Rick and Julie are in is doing the same. In
one of those classic film moments the film speed is accelerated
to Benny Hill type proportions before pulling back to slow motion
of the van rolling down a mountain, windows breaking, trees snapping
and overdubs warbling. Now that was a crash, Mr. MacGregor, no
one can survive! But survive they do, as the van is upside down,
one by one, kids climb out of the window, right side up, unscathed,
stopping only to expose a little plot and to steal the watch from
the driver. All four of them start the trek away from the vehicle,
then number five kicks open the back door, "You guys were
going to leave me!" It's David, Leif
Garrett, in his nice little black dress suit and perfect Leif
Garrett hair. Finally the credits can end. MacGregor has padded
the opening with automobile interiors, exteriors, snow, overdubs,
fucking with the film transfer speed and playful sexual teasing.
God this is good.
When Rick and Julie finally arrive at Papa Doc's, it is apparent
that this Papa is a card. He barks orders at everyone, he retells
the same stories of how he started with nothing and now has all
of these "things" he has all the while maintaining that
the weekend is for work not for winter hijinx. Rick constantly
battles back with barbs, like "asshole," "bullshit"
and "fuck you," more adlibbing from Lacher, I just know
it. That Sean MacGregor is letting his actors "act' by God.
Papa Doc you will recognize instantly as "that one guy"
Gene Evans, who never met a Western script he didn't like and
paid his dues with the likes of Sam Fuller in SHOCK CORRIDOR,
shows up in GENTLE SAVAGE and even claims a WALKING
TALL credit. A 40 year veteran of the pictures, he's just
one of those guys. The other couple on the mountain retreat are
also recognizable the Beckmans, played by TV's Boss Hogg (Sorrell
Booke, damn he was good in FAILSAFE) and Will and Grace's Rosario
(Shelly Morrison). Boss Hogg has a little more hair and Rosario
is less ethnic and 60 pounds lighter. Amazingly, both are damn
good actors. Lovely, Papa Doc's wife, truly is lovely. I wish
I could tell you she had been in a dozen sexploitationers, but
that is not the case. Carolyn Steller is Leif Garrett's mom. Her
other child is also in the movie, Dawn Lyn plays Moe, the youngest
of the children who survived the van crash. Dawn was Dodie, Fred
MacMurry's "new" daughter on the color versions of My
Three Sons. Stellar is very good in the role as horny temptress,
in a disturbing scene which involves Ralph the retard, he coaxes
him out of his clothes just as Julie catches her, she just laughs
and Julie verbally attacks her only to find out that Lovely has
already humped ol' Rick. The two catfight on the floor until Mrs.
Beckman interrupts drunkenly. Stellar manages to show her breasts
both before the edit when she closes her robe and MacGregor cuts
to Mrs. Beckman, and when he cuts back ,her robe has been re-opened
and she pulls it shut again. If you think Leif was a looker, check
out the genes. I don't know what happened to poor fugly Dawn Lyn
Once the children arrive at the house, we are informed, once
again via overdub, that the adult survivor of the crash is pursuing
them to take them back to a place they do not want to go. Brian,
a small black boy, dressed in fatigues proclaims he will take
care of the guy and they'll never take them back. All of his lines
are delivered in military speak, this is never really explained,
but who cares. When the man on their trail shows up in Papa Doc's
basement, the overdub has also informed us that no one will hear
anything down there because the place is built solid, the kids
attack and kill him. Why he entered though the basement instead
of pecking on the door, well, that is just a stupid question.
This scene is in slow motion, I mean real slow motion, like five
minutes which seems like five hours slow motion and it is completely
dark, the only glimpse of our victim tells me it is not the same
actor we see pursuing the kids in the broad daylight, actor Henry
Beckman (I guess we know where the name Harvey Beckman came from)
went on to a ton of roles including that of Barton Kelly in the
Cronenberg classic THE BROOD. Here he worked for a couple hours
then a replacement for him was killed. How did MacGregor cover
his ass? By darkening the print and playing it out in slow motion.
Brilliant. The kids bury the Doctor, we find out by a close up
of his nametag, he's an employee of an INSANE AYSLUM!
Later that night, I think, MacGregor does a great job of confusing
the viewer as to when it is, day or night, or the same day or
night, or how much time has passed, (his intention I'm sure) the
kids startle Mrs. Beckman as she goes down to grab another fifth
of Scotch because Harvey is ready to get his groove on. Mrs. Beckman's
shock at five well dressed kids, one a nun even, in the den leads
to shrieks, which awaken the whole house. The kids relay the story
of their crash, they were on a trip, they are the only survivors.
Everyone buys the story, feels sorry for them and Papa Doc lets
So this is when the heat-up starts right, the children will all
plan the offing of the adults one at a time, right, Rick, Julie
and the retarded Ralph will survive, right? I am very pleased
to report, no, that is not what happens. We are treated to very
violent murders which take place mainly because the kids are scared
to go back to the "home" or the adult in question, dissed
them somehow. The strangest occurence, Ralph the retard, who has
a lot in common with the group of kids and even has a revealing
conversation with Sister Hannah, is the first one done away with.
MacGregor manages to totally screw with your head in the order
of killings and the hows and the whys of the killings, which include
electric generators, various conventional weapons and piranha,
or "Paron-Ya!" as Papa Doc says.
The kids in DEVIL TIMES FIVE are pretty decent with Leif being
the stand-out, David, his character, has many feminine attributes,
and he is a possible cross-dresser. This might have been an afterthought,
it seems Leif must have had a role that required his beautiful
locks to be shorn right smack dab in the middle of the DEVIL TIMES
FIVE shoot.. The made for TV movies of the same time period STRANGE
HOMECOMING and THREE FOR THE ROAD as well as the drive-in classic
MACON COUNTY LINE all featured Leif in roles. Leif has, what is
obviously, his long shoulder length hair, then in the next scene
seems to be wearing a wig made to look like his hair, but the
opening killing sequence shows him remove a wig to show his short
hair before killing the doctor from the Asylum. Leif's hair begs
for a flowchart, but you'll just have to track it yourself. His
little sister Dawn, is basically just like the character she played
in My Three Sons. Dawn also shares a WALKING
TALL credit with her brother and with Gene Evans (Papa Doc).
Sister Hannah, well, Gail Smale is not credited as an actress
in any other project that I can find, the character is fairly
interesting and her performance is good but her "illness"
is odd to say the least. Catholics take note. The little black
drill sergeant (Tierre Turner) is slightly annoying but brutal
as the leader nonetheless, the kid can act. Turner went on to
be Earl in CORNBREAD, EARL AND ME and he's making a living in
the biz today as one of the hardest working black stunt doubles
in racket showing up as Cuba Gooding's death-defying doppelganger
in INSTINCT, MEN OF HONOR and PEARL fucking HARBOR. And can a
crazy kid movie not include a pyromaniac? Shit no it can't and
we have one here as well. Susan doesn't get a lot of action but
pulls off the quiet demented role perfectly. Tia Thompson is Susan,
another child actress who faded into obscurity.
A quick not about the better part of the cinematography, Paul
Hipp handled the best part of the duties, keeping in mind that
there is obviously some time lapse on pick up shots. Hipp is someone
due a lot more chatter than just this short blurb relating to
Devil Time Five. I promise more to come. Hipp worked on such great
exploitation smegma as TRADER HORNEE, GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE, PSYCHO
FROM TEXAS, and the shit-tastic SUPERCHICK. Thank you Paul Hipp.
MacGregor's take on the Last House formula is pretty decent.
It could have been taken farther for sure but in 1974, this VILLAGE
OF THE DAMNED homage is still pretty heavy. MacGregor never flinches
and the downbeat ending is another shocker. MacGregor seems as
if he was a filmmaker that could have risen to great heights as
a schlockmeister but, unless he was working under a pseudonym,
dissolved into film obscurity. DEVIL TIMES FIVE seems to only
be mentioned, by most, when discussing killer child flicks. It
also had a run under the titles PEOPLE TOYS and HORRIBLE HOUSE
ON THE HILL. Oh, Sean MacGregor, you elude me, but not forever,
Do me a favor, find DEVIL TIMES FIVE, it's what us sports fans
call an "Old Fashioned Barn Burner!" There are enough
pop culture icons involved you can call it camp, there's enough
twisted killings to satisfy the slasher elite and for the true
carn-o-sware of bad filmmaking Sean MacGregor
well Sean MacGregor
for the most part is
Check out www.videoscreams.com,
they'll hook you up with a copy, mention Brains On Film and get
|The cute Joan McCall.
|What can you say...I
wish my mom looked like that
|Can you have a Devil
movie and not have fire?
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From Tobacco Row It's Good!
Squad Join Today!
Meateater Do Not Touch!
Stranger Run Run Opie!
House On Hwy 5 Sheesh!
Locked Doors It's Dirty!
Massacre Some Like It.
Pussy It had to be done
Alley It is Rock.
Woman Truck. Woman.
Freak A Classic for You!
Geek Bigfoot Porn
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Island You Must See!
Not that kinda Cock!
Alienator Feeling Alienated?
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Prof. Tread still can't sleep.
Tramp She is sumpin' else.
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Knievel Evel of Course!
Killing Of A Chinese Bookie! Smart Guy.
Pink Angels Gayness, and Bikes
Burning The 80's, ahhh the 80's.
- The Winged Serpant! Larry Cohen rules!
For Your Life! WARNING Racist content
Tall Buford Pusser in the Hizouse!
Camp Internet Geeks Unite!
Losers Ya Loser!
of the Mutilated Bro. George gets busy.
Me An Angel Gal Biker and more.
Grim Reaper Reap on.
One of William Girdler's triumphs.
At Dawn A Modern Classic.
Boy Carradine, Dress, Dourif!
Hollywood Rape-Slaughter Rare expose'.
Savage Weekend. Take
Dead and Buried.
A Should-be Classic.
Summer In Barefoot County. PeeUww!
Night Train To
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Drink Your Blood Glug, glug!
Russ Meyer and breasts!
Stop Women Honnnk HonnnnK!
Deadly Darling! Pigs!
the Germ Fighter! Clean up!
Doesn't Cathy Eat Breakfast? Why?!
County Express! Glug, Glug!
The Night God Screamed!
White Dog Racists
City Slickers get offed!
Times Five Sean MacGregor's Titantic!
at the Red Wolf Inn Burp!
Eyes See It
Greatest Sinner One of the best!
Baby! Goo Goo!
Camp Nightmare Viva the Revolution!
of the Beast Creatures Booga!
Play Dead Incest craziness!
of Death Vacation madness!
Come, Evil Go! Bye, Bye Sinners!
Strutters Get Black Sucker!
Pretty Eddie Deep South Craziness!
Golem Jewish Folklore or what?
NYC Apartment Blues
To Kill A Clown
Alan Alda Vietnam Vet!
Spook Who Sat Next To The Door Booya!
Woke Up Early The Day I Died Mr. Ed Wood.
Mutilation Man Andy Copp goes arty on us!
People Across The Lake Good TV!
Woman Hunt Load Up Gents.
Devil At You Heels Daring Devil.
Are The Damned Dammit!
Farm TV movie Classic!