A scientist experimenting with matter transmission from place to place by means of a laser beam suddenly decides to use himself as a test specimen. But the process goes awry, and one side ... See full summary »
In Africa, a hunter kills a great lion. The animal turns out to be sacred to a local tribe of voodoo worshipers, and when the hunter returns to England, he finds himself seeing strange ... See full summary »
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>
According to executive producer Richard Gordon, the theater in which The Great Vorelli performs was not open to the public at the time and was scheduled to be demolished. The film crew was able to shoot inside the theater for the show and backstage scenes before the deadline for the building's demolition. See more »
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 »
What an act the Great Vorelli has, in the 1964 British horror thriller "Devil Doll"! Not only can he hypnotize audience volunteers to perform any kind of outlandish stunt, but he can also make his ventriloquist's dummy, Hugo, talk and act most uncannily lifelike. But how to explain Hugo's ability to locomote all by himself? That's what reporter Mark English (excellently portrayed by American actor William Sylvester) tries to find out, in this very effective little sleeper. While I would never dream of revealing Hugo's back story, I will say that he is a much creepier presence than the modern-day Chucky, if perhaps not as homicidal; the filmmakers of "Devil Doll" get maximum bang out of Hugo's merest eye movements and head turnings. It really is remarkable how much emotion can be inferred in the little puppet's homely mug; his is hardly a wooden performance! In addition to this living doll's eerie presence, the film boasts stunning B&W photography, uniformly fine acting (especially by Bryant Haliday as Vorelli, who comes off far more sinister here than the evil hypnotist played by Jose Ferrer in 1949's "Whirlpool"), intriguing FX (negative images, freeze frames) and a literate script. Despite the central doll character, this is very much an adult film that is not suitable for the kiddies. The crisp-looking DVD from Image that I just watched also includes the so-called "Continental" version of the film, which contains a striptease sequence and several bits of nudity not present in the American release. As does producer Richard Gordon, I prefer the American version, simply because the "racier" print excises an entire scene between Vorelli and his assistant Magda that helps us better understand Vorelli's character. Either version, though, is a surprisingly winning entertainment.
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