Written and directed by: Ulli Lommel
Produced by: Ulli Lommel and Charles Aperia
Reviewed by: Brett H.
Oh, God, an Ulli Lommel movie! My only other experience with the man was when I got ambitious and purchased a used video of Boogeyman II from a local video store for $4. It was four bucks horribly spent as I couldnít even make it through the damn movie, to this day it holds the record as the only movie Iíve never finished because it was just so bad. Judging from reviews of his current crop of serial killer movies, he hasnít gotten any better in the 25 years since Boogeyman II. Of course, Iím all for giving second chances, and thatís exactly what Ulli is getting with The Devonsville Terror.
Ulli cuts right to the chase as off the hop the viewer is treated to a good old fashioned witch hunt back in 1683. Three women are condemned as being witches and are burned, rolled on a flaming wagon wheel and eaten alive by pigs. After the last woman has been executed, lightning strikes her corpse and she disappears, her face rising up into the sky, damning everyone present. The movie then forwards to the modern day in the same small community. The world has changed, but this place, not so much. The town is still heavily ďChristianĒ and doesnít take too kindly to outsiders and people with more liberal views.
Walter Gibbs (Paul Willson) is the first person from the town weíre introduced to and he proceeds to kill his wife for no apparent reason. The next day a woman arrives in town off the bus, the townís new schoolteacher named Jenny Scanlon (Suzanna Love). She instantly ruffles the feathers of this redneck town by proclaiming to a student that in many religions, God is a woman. The townsfolk are angered by this and begin to think that she may be a witch, along with two other new women in town, one being a ďprovocativeĒ disc jockey, the other an environmentalist. Of course, Walter has no problems hitting on Jenny regardless of her views and at one point sees her as a ghostly naked figure in his house. Later on, she is the subject of a nightmare he has in which she knows he killed his wife and lets him drown because of his deed. Is it coincidence or witchcraft?
The town physician, Dr. Worly (Donald Pleasence), also believes her to be a witch, but has much different intentions than the others. Whereas any sane person could dismiss the notion as hodgepodge, he had found a book walled up in his basement along with other relics that proclaimed his great-great-great grandfather to be the executioner at the Devonsville Inquisition of 1683. To prove the book as truth, his bloodline was cursed to have a disease that consisted of worms eating away at them to a slow and agonizing death, and it came true. The only way to break the curse is to prove that the women executed were in fact, innocent, or at the very least clear their name regardless of guilt of innocence. Upon the arrival of the new teacher came the disease to the doc, who spends most of his screen time picking worms from his arm and hypnotizing descendants of the witch hunters and gouging every bit of information out of them he can. Can Dr. Worly save himself and clear the name of the executed women?
If you hadnít noticed already, The Devonsville Terror doesnít make complete sense, or much sense at all. Throw logic out the window, though, and you can find yourself a pretty entertaining little popcorn movie. Itís one of those movies where you just have to let shit slide and just sit back and enjoy the ride. The charactersí old world ways of thinking are hilarious and itís funny to just sit back and listen to what may be the ugliest cast since Freaks have to ramble on about. The acting is decent, which makes it even more entertaining, not to mention Suzanna Love showing off her breasts every 15 minutes, which is even more entertaining. Itís effective in being a sort of modern day witch hunt and much like the hunt from years before, many targets are in general just normal women who are accused by some overzealous religious nuts. Well, that depends on how you look at it.
Just who was a witch in the film is open to interpretation. As I tried to decipher just what happened, I came to the conclusion that either there was only one witch (which doesnít entirely make sense) or they were all witches (which as well doesnít make sense). I wish I could call up Dr. Worly and ask him just what he thinks, but what becomes of him actually complicates the witch situation even more. Donald Pleasenceís character makes the movie more enjoyable, but at the same time you canít help but feel bad that Pleasence was pretty much wasted. Either way, between funny dialogue, ample nudity and some cheap, but very appreciated, scenes of gore towards the end combine to make a punch of horror goodness that only a quality mediocre movie can bring! Itís a bit of a mess, but itís ultimately a very amusing mess.
The DVD of The Devonsville Terror was released way back in 1999 and probably was one of the first double feature discs ever to come out. Paired with it is another Ulli Lommel film starring Suzanna Love, The Boogeyman (part one, not the horrendous movie referred to above). The picture and audio are pretty impressive for such an early release and low budget film, making this package a hard one not to recommend on some level. Complimenting the transfer is the fact that there are many nice autumn scenes that give the film a sort of Halloween vibe combined with the witches and the late, great Donald Pleasence. Maybe itís a hint of nostalgia talking (I taped this off of Movie Max as a kid, but only watched it in parts, mainly the nude scenes and Pleasence picking worms) but I liked my stay in Devonsville. Itís entertaining and a movie you can enjoy with a nice bowl of popcorn and just let your mind run wild with theories as to just what the hell actually happened. Itís not high art, but thereís no reason to burn this film at the stake. Rent it!
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