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Black Devil Doll From Hell / Tales From The Quadead Zone

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    Ian Jane
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  • Black Devil Doll From Hell / Tales From The Quadead Zone



    Black Devil Doll From Hell / Tales From The Quadead Zone
    Released by: Massacre Video
    Released on: November 12th, 2013.
    Director: Chester N. Turner
    Cast: Shirley L. Jones, Keefe Turner
    Year: 1984/1985
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    Chester Novell Turner (check out our video interview with him here!) is a man with a vision. He's also a man who once owned a camcorder and for better or worse he used that camcorder, a few friends and family members and a Casio keyboard to bring that vision to life. Though he was rumored to have died in a car accident years back, the elusive Mr. Turner is alive and well and now Massacre Video have paired together his two features, the infamous VHS rarities Black Devil Doll From Hell and Tales From The Quadead Zone. Shot for peanuts but made with spirit, these have been nearly impossible to find since the peppered rental shops around the country in the 1980s, but now through the magic of DVD they not only live again but have been given the special edition treatment!

    BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL:

    First up is the notorious Black Devil Doll From Hell, shot for peanuts in 1984, it tells the sordid tale of one Helen Black (Shirley L. Jones), an avid churchgoer and woman of high moral standing. After she leaves her regular Sunday service she strolls home singing some gospel songs to herself and is approached by a man selling stolen stereos out of the trunk of his car. Now everyone loves a good deal on a stereo, but Helen will have none of it. She goes home and sings some more, then answers the phone - her friend tells her that she needs to get laid and encourages her to see some guy named Sam. No dice. Helen is saving herself for marriage and she's not going to give Sam the time of day because he's only interested in getting into her pants.

    Later that day, she goes for a stroll and stops off at a craft/antique store. Here she spies a large ventriloquist's dummy with corn rows and is, for some reason, instantly intrigued. She asks the clerk about it and is told that it's been said that this doll will make its owner his or her innermost desires come true. Helen brushes this off as nonsense but before you know it, she's got the doll packaged up in a recycled cardboard box and has headed home with it. She unpacks it and promptly puts it on the toilet in her bathroom so that it can watch her have a shower. Here she suds up her hooters and lets her mind wander into places she'd normally never let it go. Before you know it, she's fantasizing about the doll licking her breasts and heading south!

    This event sees a rapid change in Helen. The woman who was once the most pious of God's creations has now got her mind trapped firmly in the gutter. She can't stop thinking about the doll and how it made her feel and before you know it she's calling over to that stolen stereo guy on the corner for a quickie. He can't satisfy her though, so she heads off to a local watering hole where people dance and drink and sin. She picks up another man, but it's just no good. The loving she needs can come from one place and one place only, and that's the hot burning loins of that strange, sexy doll.

    Watching Black Devil Doll From Hell is the home video equivalent of injecting heroin into your eyeballs. You know it's a horrible idea, your mom would definitely frown on it, and it's definitely going to have long term health effects, one of which would be erectile dysfunction. At the same time, once you start, the rush takes over. You go into that trance where you just sort of shit your pants and giggle a lot, paying no mind to what's happening around you and focusing only on the high. Yeah sure, it's definitely in bad taste, there's no denying that - this is a movie about a woman who not only gets raped by a puppet but a movie in which she actually enjoys it. Is there a Sam Peckinpah influence here perhaps? No, no… there most certainly is not. This is a movie that operates on a whole different level than anything else you've seen.

    The closest point of comparison is obviously the Zuni Fetish doll story from Trilogy Of Terror but there's a darkly sexual angel to this that, when coupled with the remarkable incompetence of everyone involved, adds a level of surrealism so thick that you need a jackhammer to get through it. There's a Doris Wishman like fixation on inanimate objects scattered around the house. Turner's camera focuses on these things, we get a nice look at Helen's phone, her shower curtain, her couch (all of the furniture is covered in plastic) and more, but Turner makes Wishman look like Fellini. Throughout all of this, Shirley Jones mutters her lines while the soundtrack, courtesy of Turner himself, conjures up memories of bad eighties porn and early Nintendo games. Jones tries, you've got to give her credit for that. She shows an admirable dedication to her part and, well, she lets a doll do dirty things to her funbags… that's got to count for something. She seems to forget the words to 'Yes, Jesus Loves Me' half way through the song and seems fairly blasé about much of what happens to her. The mutters her dialogue with an impressive lack of enthusiasm but if nothing else, she makes the role her own.

    And then there's the doll himself. Voiced by Chester's brother, Keefe Turner, and occasionally played by a little kid who is periodically and quite literally thrown at Helen (during these scenes the movie uses some abysmal slow motion effects), he growls at her and calls her a bitch. He trash talks her and abuses her and basically treats her as if she's his own personal whore. It's simultaneously horribly offensive and completely amazing.

    TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE

    A few years after his first feature, Chester Turner got behind the camcorder again for a second, this time a horror anthology in the vein of Tales From the Crypt or something like that. After an amazing opening credits sequence with more horribly mixed Casio music overtop of what may or may not be The Rappin' Granny and some strange illustrations (courtesy of Shirley Jones) we meet an unnamed woman (also Jones) who is hanging out in a kitchen. Soon enough, it turns out her dead son, Bobby, wants her to read him a story so he hands her a book called Tales From The Quadead Zone and they head into the living room where we see the imprint of an unseen child's ass on a cushy chair. Anytime Bobby says something to mommy we hear a sort of whooshing/hushing sound and someone off camera points a fan at her face to make her hair move. She smiles when this happens, looking almost aroused, and it's weird.

    At any rate, this serves as the story that bridges together the other stories that make up the bulk of the running time in this feature. The first one is entitled 'Food For?' and it introduces us to a family of poor white trash types. Though they obviously a tight knit group and thankful for what they have, it seems that they never have enough to eat. The father has the family gather around the table for dinner every night and says a rhyming grace, after which whoever grabs the sandwiches first is the one to eat that night. After this happens a few times, one of the sons grabs a gun and brings their numbers down to a more reasonable level. We then learn that the mother and father went on to live 'high on the hog in witness protection program' and that the murdering son was executed on the 'state gas chair.'

    Back at the house, it seems Bobby was into that story but as it was a bit on the short side, he needs another one, so mommy reads him the terrifying tale of The Brothers. Here we learn about Fred Johnson (Keefe Turner), a janitor who pays two hapless buddies of his to help him bust the corpse of his recently departed brother, Ted (William Jones), out of a funeral home. They succeed in their mission and celebrate with a drink of champagne, which Fred sips from a titty mug. The two pals leave and Fred, still holding the titty mug, rants at his dead brother's corpse. It seems that all his life Ted has been one upping Fred, be it stealing all of their father's affections or stealing his very wife only to break up their marriage. It's this last act of treason that hits Fred so hard, because it caused his wife to commit suicide. Now, Fred's going to have the last laugh, as he proceeds to dress his brother in a clown suit and then try to bury him in the basement. Of course, Ted turns into a zombie, they hit one another with shovels, and it all goes downhill from there.

    Wrapping tings up nicely is Unseen Vision, which brings us back to mommy and Bobby. Here we learn that he was taken from her all too young, the victim of a car accident, and that her husband, Daryl (John W. Jones) is none too happy that she keeps reading to him because, well, he's dead. When Daryl comes home and finds the book on the table, he loses it and beats the shit out of her. She has no choice but to fight back as the film comes to a bloody conclusion.

    Amazingly enough, Turner managed to make another movie and not only collaborated with many of the same people he used on the first picture but bring on board a whole host of new recruits as well. In fact, this movie has a reasonably large cast - but that's about where the improved production values end. Once again we're bombarded with nonsensical storytelling, Shirley Jones' remarkable non-acting, and terrible video effects. This time around, Turner seems to have tossed the rampant perversity of his first film out the window in favor of something ever so slightly closer to a traditional horror movie. We do get a couple of gore scenes here, for example. But really this is just as healthy a dose of the lunatic fringe as Black Devil Doll From Hell is. It's not a better movie at all, but it is shorter.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Both movies are taken from Turner's own VHS masters and presented in their original fullframe aspect ratio. They do not look good, but realistically speaking, they're not likely to look any better than they do on this release. Tape rolls are common, colors fade in and out, and detail is soft and fuzzy. Much of this stems back to the fact that this material was all shot on consumer grade VHS with consumer grade equipment more than two decades ago and on top of that it wasn't very well shot in the first place - what you see is what you get.

    The audio is just as iffy, there are times where the levels are completely bonkers and the trance inducing soundtrack buries the performers and there are times where the performers bury the trance inducing soundtrack. You really never know what you're going to get. Both movies are in English language, sort of, presented in Dolby Digital Mono. Subtitles would have probably helped viewers pick up on the finer points of the movies, but there don't appear to be any finer points there in the first place so we'll let that slide.

    Extras are spread across the two discs in the set. The Black Devil Doll From Hell disc includes a commentary from Chester Turner and Shirley Jones. They start off by noting that the movie was originally going to be called The Puppet and from there they talk about when the music was done. Shirley expresses her admiration for the title sequence, and from there they sort of give a scene specific run down of what's happening. They point out who the various participants in the movie are, note some of the locations that were used and more. Shirley points out that she still owns some of the clothes she wore in the movie, and Shirley makes a lot of 'woo' and 'uh uh uh' noises before her shower scene for some reason. Chester talks about how it was tricky when his brother was operating the doll and Chester notes that the white that comes out of the doll's mouth when he likes the boobies in the movie is his love juice and that it has a softening up effect on his victim. So there you go. There's some dead air here and there but this is Chester and Shirley in their own words and it's just as bizarre as you'd expect, particularly once Shirley starts flirting with Chester during the puppet sex scene and all sorts of weird laughing and grunting noises occur. Chester has more to offer in terms of memories and information than Shirley does, but her presence here definitely makes this unique.

    Additionally, the disc also includes a thirty-five minute featurette entitled Return To The Quadead Zone which features Chester and Shirley. Though they cover some of the same ground here as they do in the commentary, getting the chance to see them as well as hear them is a treat in and of itself. Chester looks fairly sleepy throughout most of this but is in good spirits, talking about the highs and lows of getting his movies out there. He and Shirley were an item at the time they were made and would rent VCRs to run copies off for stores in the area. They discuss the distribution deal that they landed and talk about the joys of shooting with family members. Chester does elaborate on the intricate safety precautions put in place for the scene in which they had to throw kids at Shirley, and Shirley talks about what it was like acting in Chester's movies. This is genuinely interesting stuff and it's a kick to see what these two are really all about. The dedication was there, the spirit of independent filmmaking was there and the ambition was there and while at times maybe the talent wasn't, that didn't stop them and you've got to admire that.


















    If that weren't enough, this disc also contains the 'Hollywood Home Theater Recut' version of the feature. The quality here is actually a bit better than Chester's version, at least in terms of visuals. It doesn't have nearly the same effect in terms of its score, however, the Casio sounds in the opening have been replaced with a fuzzed out rock guitar score with some crazy vocals over top and the opening credits are completely different. The same goes for the end credits, which reuse the song that plays over the opening credits with all that dirty drum and bass and rock n roll going on.

    The disc also features a still gallery, animated menus and chapter stops as well as some great reversible cover art with the Massacre Video cover on one side and a reformatted version of the VHS release's cover art on the opposite side.

    Chester and Shirley also deliver a commentary on the Tales From The Quadead Zone disc. Shirley introduces herself as 'Shirley Latonya Jones, also known as Coot!' and Chester notes that he and his brother Keefe did the opening song. Shirley wishes she knew what happened to the book but doesn't, but she admits to doing the bizarre drawings that play over the opening credits. Chester says that the drawings were actually about the size of a kitchen table and Chester says 'umm hmm' a lot. They admit to using a hairdryer to get Shirley's hair to do that weird thing that it does whenever Bobby communicates with her. They discuss the casting of the random white people in the first story, and then Chester gets a bit livelier when the 'Brothers' segment plays. They make fun of the styles that the guys wear in the movie and talk about where the rented the clown suit from, about the makeup that they used on the clown. Shirley drifts in and out and then comes back to consciousness when it comes time to talk about the fight scene in the end of the movie. There's a lot of dead air here but when these two are on, they're on.










    The TFTQZ disc also features trailers for a few unrelated Massacre Video properties, a BC Video opening sequence, animated menus and chapter stops and once again features some great reversible cover art.

    The Final Word:

    In a perfect world, Chester Novell Turner would have made more movies than the two camcorder epics contained in this collection from Massacre Video. That didn't happen, but like the father of the hillbilly family in Quadead Zone, we should thank the good Lord above for what we do have, preferably in rhyme if at all possible. These two movies are unlike anything else, they represent not only one man's attempt to craft some unusual entertainment but also a glimpse into the world that Chester and Shirley inhabited back in the eighties. Massacre's DVD release really doesn't look or sound very good but it probably looks and sounds as good as it can. What it lacks in finesse, it makes up for with some pretty great extras and simply by existing in the first place.






































































    • Ian Miller
      #1
      Ian Miller
      Flattery and foreplay
      Ian Miller commented
      Editing a comment
      I love how Chester really stresses the point that the doll is supposed to look like Rick James! Also, what do BDDFH and FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY have in common (apart from a maddeningly repetitive and catchy film score)? Little people being tossed for a special effect!

    • Ian Jane
      #2
      Ian Jane
      Administrator
      Ian Jane commented
      Editing a comment
      Midget tossing is illegal in Canada! I think my favorite Chester moment is when he admits to getting turned on during the puppet sex scene. At least he's honest, you've got to respect that in the man.
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