Devil Doll


‘…Devil Doll has that ineffable something that makes a B movie into a cult movie…’

Imaginary people keep asking me; what’s the best streaming service for movies? And I usually reply; YouTube. There’s seemingly a bottomless pit of unlicensed films out there, seeking an audience, and even if you think you’ve seen everything, there’s always something else. I’d never even heard of Lindsay Shonteff’s Devil Doll until I happened upon it while looking for the old 1936 film. While no masterpiece, it’s got a certain something worth a look for the jaded.

One horror trope that seems eternal is the ventriloquist’s dummy, from Dead of Night to Magic to Dead Silence, and there’s a cracker here called Hugo. With his Stone Roses haircut and enormous ears, Hugo is an ugly creature, and that U word is constantly and abusively used by Hugo’s master, magician/hypnotist The Great Vorelli (Bryant Haliday). Vorelli is investigated by US reporter Mark English (William Sylvester), who unwisely uses his girlfriend Marianne (a game Yvonne Romain) as bait to get close to the caped performer. It turns out that Vorelli is mastering some kind of out-of-body-transference, and aims to put Marianne’s soul into a little wooden body of his own construction…

Devil Doll is an endearingly drab production, with a few bare breasts shoehorned in to add limited appeal, and some striking plot holes; how does Hugo travel around London on his murder sprees? London is quite a cosmopolitan place to be sure, but surely a ventriloquist’s dummy traversing the city alone would around some interest or suspicion? We can put such concerns aside and cheerfully report that Devil Doll does have a decent story (by Frederick E Smith) and the final twist is worth waiting for. Let’s just say that the final scene here doesn’t feature English against Vorelli…

Shonteff completed a number of sexed-up cheapies over the next couple of decades, but Devil Doll has that ineffable something that makes a B movie into a cult movie; the pulsing music when Vorelli performs, the lapses of logic and the blunt but effective acting. It’s better than most lurid 60’s horror, and you won’t see that ending coming….for ‘MAXIMUM SHOCK SOCK’, as the trailer suggests, Devil Doll will shock you to your socks, and beyond…



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  1. This movie did make it onto MST3K, as one of the Sci-Fi Channel episodes – which means the episode is on Shout Factory’s streaming service as well.

    • A fan of MST3K, is this the one where they go ‘Sleep!’? Good shout, will check it out.

  2. London is so metropolitan and vast it would not surprise me to see a ventriloquist’s dummy having an argument with a bus conductor over whether he qualified for a child fare. Maximum shock value sounds an attractive proposition.

    • Shock Sock value. Modern London perhaps, but in the 60’s, few dummies travelled the streets alone. Today, there’s tonnes of them.

  3. So Pinocchio (without a nose) goes out and kills people? I could go for that. Who’s Jiminy Cricket in Devil Doll? Is there a cricket? There better be a cricket.

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