This mess was released straight to video back in 1984. Beyond that I don’t know much about the film, or its writer-producer-director Chester N. Turner (who also made the equally appalling 1987 anthology flick TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE), except that it inspired 2009’s BLACK DEVIL DOLL—which unlike this one is actually a pretty good movie!
Helen is a lonely black woman who purchases a black puppet from an antique shop. Never mind that the shop’s proprietor claims she’s sold the puppet four ties already and it “Always comes back.” At home Helen finds that the doll has a way of moving around the house seemingly of its own volition, and its presence seems to inspire sexually-tinged hallucinations. Eventually the doll attacks Helen and knocks her unconscious, with the rejoinder “How d’ya like that, bitch?”
Helen awakens to find herself tied spread-eagled to her bed, with the doll standing over her. After blowing a blast of fetid breath in her face the doll promises, “You’ve smelled the foulness of my breath, and now you may taste the sweetness of my tongue!” The doll delivers on that promise, licking Helen all over and then raping her.
Helen, for her part, quite enjoys the experience, so much so that she takes to calling the doll “Mr. Wonderful.” Eager to repeat the experience, Helen skips work the following morning–but unfortunately the doll is nowhere to be found.
Helen later tells her boyfriend about what occurred, and becomes so aroused by the recounting that she takes him to bed. She doesn’t enjoy the experience. She picks up a stud at a bar, but the resulting sexcapade isn’t any more inspiring than the last one. In desperation Helen returns to the antique store where she initially bought the doll, and finds it has returned. She purchases it once again and brings it back to her home, but the puppet’s actions this time around are far less joyous than before.
You know a film is in trouble when its opening credits, presented over a black screen, last a full six minutes! There are many, many more examples of gratuitous padding in endless scenes of people walking and the protagonist wandering around her apartment.
Other appalling elements include an early phone conversation during which the camera roams aimlessly around the speaker’s cluttered home. Keeping people and objects in the frame is a constant challenge for director Chester N. Turner, as is merely keeping the camera steady. The sound mixing is an even bigger problem, with an ambient drone that runs throughout the entire film and is often so loud it drowns out the dialogue—as does the hideous synthesizer score, which frequently utilizes noisy, siren-like drones. As for the acting, it’s pretty much as you’d expect.
What really makes this film the bad movie classic it is, however, is the title character. It’s a walking, talking puppet, although we only really ever see it from the neck up. For wide shots of the thing walking a child is utilized, while an attack sequence is presented in particularly shameless fashion via a succession of still shots! The Black Devil Doll’s growling vocals by Keefe Turner—who’s also credited with the puppetry—are unforgettable.
Interestingly enough, BLACK DEVIL DOLL, the unofficial comedy remake of the present film, isn’t nearly as odd, offensive, shocking or laugh-out-loud funny as BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL—even though most of its humor is unintentional!
BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL
C.N.T. Production Company Inc.
Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Editor: Chester N. Turner
Cinematography: Anna Holiday
“Re”-Editing: David T. Ichikawa
Cast: Shirley L. Jones, Rickey Roach, Chester Tankersley, Marie Sainvilvs, Jeanine Johican, Thalia Holloway, Kathleen Turner, Keefe Turner