The Devil's Partner 2003 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
I was drawn to The Devil’s Partner (1962) by one thing, that being the artwork on the DVD cover. In case you can’t see it, the Alpha Video DVD release features a half nekkid woman brandishing a torch, riding on the back of seemingly angry centaur (one of a race of monsters having the head, trunk, and arms of a man, and the body and legs of a horse), through a spooky looking graveyard during the night. Well, I watched this film last night, and there wasn’t a scene anywhere in the feature that even remotely resembled that which is depicted on the DVD case. Directed by Charles R. Rondeau, whose primary work seems to include directing certain episodes on various television shows like “77 Sunset Strip” (1958), “The Wild Wild West” (1965), and “Kojak” (1973) to name a few, the film stars Ed Nelson (Attack of the Crab Monsters, Night of the Blood Beast, The Brain Eaters), Jean Allison (Edge of Fury), and Richard Crane (House of the Damned). Also appearing is Spencer Carlisle (The Girl in Lovers Lane), Byron Foulger (The Magnetic Monster, High School Big Shot), Claire Carleton (Unwed Mother), and Edgar Buchanan (The Desperadoes, Shane), probably best known for his role as ‘Uncle Joe’ on the mid 1960s television series “Petticoat Junction”.
As the film begins we see a crusty, old hermit outside his shanty picking up one of the goats milling about and taking it inside…um, I don’t think I like where this is heading…once inside the man performs some sort of sacrificial ceremony (at least that’s all he did), to which we cut to credits played over scenes of a Greyhound bus traveling along the road. The bus stops at a place called Furnace Flats and a man, whom we later learn is named Nick Richards (Nelson) gets off and inquires at the local diner about his uncle, who turns out to be the crusty, old hermit we saw in the beginning. Anyway, Nick learns from the sheriff his uncle died under mysterious circumstances and proceeds to move into the now vacant shanty where he meets Nell (Allison), daughter of the local doctor (Buchanan), who has come around for some goat’s milk as apparently her father uses it in his practice. Nick takes a liking to Nell, but she’s going with the local gas station owner named David (Crane). Once settled in, Nick begins performing odd rituals that apparently result not only in the death of various individuals, but also David getting mauled and disfigured by his dog (he sure ain’t gonna win no beauty contests now). Anyway, while David’s on the mend (David turns into quite the drama queen after his `accident’), Nick offers to run the filling station, allowing him to horn in on David and Nell’s relationship, all while causing a couple more bizarre deaths. Eventually the sheriff, through the aid of his Yorkshire terrier named Maddie, turns up some interesting clues (seriously, the dog uncovered more in five minutes than the mentally deficient sheriff did in five days) possibly implicating Nick in the recent negative population trend, along with the notion he may not be who he appears…
While I was disappointed at the lack of scantily clad women and centaurs in this film, as depicted on DVD case artwork, I did think this was an interesting, albeit slightly discordant, feature. The story may have lacked a sound structure and a sense of continuous flow, the film did possess some menial charms and an overall sense of oddness, both of which helped keep my interest throughout. The acting is decent enough for this kind of film (Ed Nelson reminds me of a low rent Robert Vaughn), as is the direction and production values. I did learn quite a few things from this film, including the following…
1. People who live in hot climates sure like to complain about the heat (one would think at some point they’d either get used to it or move).
2. A cleaned up shanty is still a shanty.
3. Goat’s milk has medicinal purposes but sours quicker than cow’s milk due to its richness.
4. Back in the day you could get six and a half gallons of gas for under three bucks.
5. Transubstantiation takes a lot out of a body.
6. Every town has a boozehound.
7. Drunks like oversized women who operate diners.
8. Women who run diners keep their dough in their bras rather in the cash register.
9. Drunks, while possessing easily malleable wills, are not good tools of evil due to their unreliability and the fact they have absolutely no stomach for animal sacrifice.
10. In a small town your business is everyone else’s business, especially when it comes to your banking activities.
11. Small town sheriffs don’t need a search warrant but rather only a hunch to enter your domicile while you’re out perpetrating evil.
12. If you’re trying to conceal a crudely drawn pentagon of evil scrawled on the floor of your shanty, use something heavier than a throw rug to cover it up lest some nosy mutt gets in and uncovers it.
13. When pitting a wino against a horse, always bet on the horse.
14. Minions of evil don’t sweat, regardless the heat.
I spoke of a couple of animal sacrifices earlier, but none are actually show on the screen. All we see is a shadow on the wall and some sound effects indicating said sacrifice took place. There is a wee bit of blood, but over all things are about as tame as you might expect given the time the film was released. As far as the satanic stuff, it’s more or less a general sense of evil, as the feature doesn’t delve into many specifics. All in all there’s some fun to be had here, as long as you keep your expectations fairly low and aren’t one to get hung up on the slight lack of coherence in various plot elements and uneven pacing.
The picture, presented in black and white fullscreen (1.33:1) on this Alpha Video DVD release starts out rough, but gets a little better as the film progress. That’s not to say it’s great, but the quality is decent enough for the price. There are a few scenes where frames are missing, but it’s nothing you can’t fill in for yourself. The audio is pretty decent, although I’m unsure the format. There aren’t any extras except for the standard display of DVD covers for other Alpha Video releases.