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Devil Doll (1964)

An evil hyponotist/ventriloquist plots to gain an heiress' millions.

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(screenplay) (as George Barclay), (screenplay) (as Lance Z. Hargreaves) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Marianne Horn
...
Magda
...
Aunt Eva
...
...
Dr. Heller
Francis De Wolff ...
Dr. Keisling
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Storyline

Vorelli is a ventriloquist & hypnotist, with an amazing dummy, Hugo. Vorelli meets and pursues a beautiful heiress (Marianne); he mesmerizes her, and induces a baffling coma. His buxom mistress (Magda) fears he'll dump her for the younger woman, and threatens to expose him. Vorelli tricks Hugo into killing Magda while he's safely elsewhere. Marianne's boyfriend Mark investigates. He discovers another killing in Vorelli's past, of a man called Hugo. The girl wakes from her coma, and announces she will marry the hypnotist. When the triumphant Vorelli tells Hugo his plans for Marianne and a new, female dummy, a final confrontation yields surprising results. Written by Mike Rogers <MICHAELPEM@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What Is The Strange, Terrifying Evil Secret Of The Dummy...and why is it locked in a cage every night? See more »

Genres:

Horror

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Details

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Release Date:

September 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La poupée diabolique  »

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Box Office

Budget:

£25,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The dwarf who portrays Hugo the Dummy was performed by a woman even though Hugo is a male dummy. See more »

Goofs

When Hugo walks toward the audience the back of his jacket is intact. When he walks back to his seat there is a hole in his back jacket for the hand to control him. See more »

Quotes

[talking on the phone]
Mark English: Now get your tail out of bed and get to work.
Bob Garrett: Wilco, Wilco, stay cool and all that jazz--hey, how'd you know I was still in bed?
Mark English: It figures, boy, it figures.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Voodoo Blood Death (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Onslaught
(uncredited)
Music by Robert Farnon
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

DEVIL DOLL (1964) - Image DVD Review
14 June 2004 | by See all my reviews

A beautifully-crafted low budget shocker which has unfortunately been overlooked in view of the classic 'Ventriloquist's Dummy' episode from the horror compendium film, DEAD OF NIGHT (1945; episode directed by Alberto Cavalcanti). Actually, it bears very few similarities to it: the dummy may be called Hugo as in the earlier film (though DEVIL DOLL was in fact based on a short story written by Frederick E. Smith), but here we have the ventriloquist who is doing the mind-controlling and the dummy who is subservient to him, whereas in the 1945 film it was the other way around.

Some dated elements like the dance number early in the film (couldn't they have thought of something more sinister as a way of making the heroine, Yvonne Romain, fall under the hypnotist's spell?) are not enough to spoil DEVIL DOLL's very effective suspense sequences, especially whenever The Great Vorelli and Hugo get to share the screen. Performances are generally adequate (including William Sylvester as the requisite American 'star') but Bryant Halliday obviously dominates the film as the villainous Vorelli. Reminiscent of John Barrymore in SVENGALI (1931), his sheer magnetic presence makes one wish he had made more films of the caliber of DEVIL DOLL. (On a side note, we DVD Maniacs should also feel obligated towards him for his capacity as co-founder of Janus Films, 'home owner' of The Criterion Collection!)

Some critics find the film a bit flat, almost like a made-for-TV film: it does have a tendency towards showing the actors in close-up but this, as explained in the commentary, was more due to budgetary limitations than to a conscious choice of film-making style adopted by the director; furthermore, the plot's very dependence on various states of emotion on the characters' part makes the intimacy of it all entirely appropriate!

Which brings us to the ending: though unconvincing in detail (Vorelli's transference of souls gradually took place over a period of months but here it happens in a flash!), the impact of it is undeniable and makes for a hugely satisfying climax to a wonderful little film, a genuine sleeper and now regaining some well-deserved momentum with Image Entertainment's excellent DVD release.


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