Devil's Partner (1962)

DECEMBER 9, 2009


At this point I would say there are JUST enough good movies on the Tales Of Terror set to make my purchase worthwhile. While its certainly had its share of stinkers and it’s getting harder and harder to find a film on it that sounds remotely interesting (or even eligible - many of them are under an hour long), there have been a few gems I would otherwise never have seen, such as Devil’s Partner, which is a fairly grim and well-written “sell your soul to the devil and then pay the consequences” movie from 1962.

The thing that works best about the movie is that it oddly feels a bit timeless. Sure there are things that might sound a bit funny (6 gallons of gas sets a guy back a whopping $2.30), but it’s not as broad as most horror films of the era were. The characters are largely believable and real (especially the heroine, the rare female character in a 50s/60s horror movie that exists beyond meeting/falling in love with the hero and being put in danger near the end), and they even have some wit about them that I don’t often see. At one point a cop asks our soul-selling protagonist why he doesn’t seem to be as uncomfortable in the heat as everyone else, and the guy replies “Well I’m actually from hell”, which of course the cop thinks is a joke.

I was also impressed by the makeup on the hero’s face. He gets mauled by a dog early on, and gets a big scar from his forehead, across his eye, and down to his cheekbone. The eye is almost completely exposed (sort of like Two-Face), which is pretty good for the pre-Savini/Smith years. I just wish they put a tad more effort into the production design for the devil worshipping scenes - the dude appears to be sacrificing stuff to an uneven, blank hexagon, instead of a pentagram with symbols and shit like that all over it.

Speaking of sacrifices, this is definitely not a favorite of PETA. While no animals are harmed onscreen, there’s an inordinate number of furry/scaly characters killed. In addition to the requisite sacrificing of a goat, a snake is shot and said mauling dog is bludgeoned. But very few humans die in the film to even it out. One dog is equal to what, 50 people? Yet there are only about 3 human deaths.

Only two issues really are with the very beginning and very end. The opening credits spoils what should be a surprise (that one actor plays two characters, one under heavy makeup so as not to be recognized), which is kind of a bummer as I probably wouldn’t have guessed it otherwise. Hopefully this movie will attract the attention of our nation’s illiterate. The other issue I had was that the ending was far too abrupt. Our guy is injured (he was the snake that got shot, then reverted back to human form - told ya, cool movie for back in the day). Then they just shoot him again a few minutes later without any sort of fight. Then scarred guy is miraculously healed, though it is unclear if the goat came back to life too as a result of this sort of spiritual “undo”.

But that middle? Good stuff. Not great, but for a movie I paid 40 cents for, I am pretty pleased. Also the main guy looked a bit like Oliver Reed when he got angry, so that was a plus.

What say you?

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