The Devil's Messenger (1961)

OCTOBER 29, 2008


It didn’t take too long for me to figure out that The Devil’s Messenger was not an anthology film by design, but something that was assembled. And sure enough, an IMDb research session revealed that the three stories were just episodes of a failed Twilight Zone wannabe called 13 Demon Street, and then they filmed a wraparound with Lon Chaney to package it as a movie. Nice try, er, whoever did that!

Since they are from TV episodes, you can guess that nothing fucking happens in the entire movie. No violence, no cool monster, no nudity... nothing. And it’s easy to see why the show failed; the stories (which I assume were the pick of the litter) all suck! One’s about a guy who finds a girl in the ice. He... really likes her! So he knocks out his buddy and thaws her, but she dies anyway. The end. Another one (which also has a guy knocking out his buddy for no real reason) was ripped off by Stephen King ("The Road Virus Travels North"), but his was a hell of a lot better. I can’t even tell what happened at the end of this one; the guy rips the photo in half, but then he dies. Or something.

The only one that was marginally entertaining was the third one. It’s a familiar story; a fortune teller tells a guy that he’s going to die at a specific time (midnight; which is convenient) and he tries to figure out how to prevent that. He doesn’t, of course, but seeing his attempts to do so were marginally amusing, and even though the twist end doesn’t make any sense at all, it’s kind of funny to me. Also, this one has one of the best lines ever: “You never used to drink before six!”. I myself never drink before 8:45 mountain time; this guy must be a real lush.

The best parts, naturally, are the wraparound segments with ol Larry Talbot. He’s supposed to be the devil I guess, and he’s having a grand old time. Unlike Karloff and Lugosi, I haven’t seen too many of these paycheck roles for Chaney, and it’s nice to see him in good spirits. The end of the movie is particularly great, as Chaney starts talking to “us” (that is, the presumed audience) and then nukes the entire world for some reason. We see that one house from the nuclear blast stock footage get blown apart for the 80 millionth time, and then the movie just ends. Kind of awesome. Why he decides to do this, I have no idea, but hey, points for originality.

Also, this was the most interesting-sounding of the Tales of Terror pack (not counting ones I’ve already seen anyway). If anyone else has this set, feel free to recommend a few, because I’m pretty disappointed with it thus far. Cabinet of Dr Caligari is on there, but I assume it’s a piss-poor transfer, so I’d rather get a traditional DVD for that one.

What say you?


  1. Omg how was something made in 1961 ripped off from something from 1999??? Lol


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