The Devonsville Terror (1983)

MAY 5, 2007


As I said in my review for The Boogey Man, The Devonsville Terror is actually the "bonus feature" on the disc, so I wasn't expecting much. I certainly wasn't expecting to assume that the movie was in a constant state of being on pause. How slow was this movie? So slow that I fell asleep for about 20 minutes and when I woke up I had no trouble following the story.

Yet another Uli Lommell film that features a priest eating at his parishioners’ homes, The Devonsville Terror is not an awful film, but the snail’s pace is utterly bizarre. It’s not an exaggeration, literally NOTHING happens until the final, insane 10 minutes. Devonsville is a small town in Wisconsin (or Massachusetts, the two are interchangeable in these type of movies) that, 300 years ago, killed three suspected witches. Now, in the present day, three women move to town around the same time, so the ignorant townsfolk of course all believe them to be reincarnations of the witches. But they don’t do much about it for 70 minutes. They just say to each other things of the “they’re witches, and it ain’t right, and we gotta do something about it,” variety. One of the women, a DJ who tells female listeners to be strong and whatever (witch!!), barely even appears, making her eventual death wholly unsatisfying (the fact that it comes out of nowhere doesn’t help). And note – I went back and watched the part I slept through, and she only appeared for about a minute in that section. Most of the time we follow Jenny, who is played by Lommell’s wife (and writer of the film), who is the new schoolteacher who tells the kids that God might be a woman. WITCH!!!

The other one is a hippie so who cares if she dies or not (she does).

Also on board, of course, is Donald Pleasence, who as usual seems to be teleported in from some other movie. The film is bookended with his ‘journal entries’ but the voiceover actor is worse than the one who did his narration in H20, and at least for that film he had a good excuse (being dead) for not doing it himself. Why the hell didn’t he do it himself for this? Whatever. He pulls worms out of his skin (due to a curse the original witches placed on his family, in the only real tie he has to the story, as he never has any scenes outside of his office), so there’s something. And in another parallel with Boogey Man, Pleasence also hypnotizes people when they come in for checkups. Fine.

I’ve said all along (to no one in particular) that a horror movie written by its own female star can never be any good, and this does little to dispel that belief. Note – I only know of two such films: this one and Soultaker. Also, I would like to have been in on the writing sessions when she decided to give herself a few random nude scenes and shoot laser beams out of her eyes in the finale.

As movies that are thrown on the flipside of other movies’ DVDs go, it could be worse, but I am one of those guys who want to be utterly baffled when they try to follow a movie after sleeping thru a quarter of it. Or at least miss a kill scene.

What say you?

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