Devil Times Five aka Peopletoys (1974)
The early seventies. A time when it was acceptable for male leads to look like Swedish porn stars or resemble a photo fit of a paedophile. Bawdy humour, colourful settings, ridiculous incidental music and terrible editing.
It was a beautiful time.
This film has all of these things and more.
The story begins with a bus losing control on a snow covered road and instantly killing the driver, the surviving passengers are four kids and a nun (or is she?!) clamber out, and after robbing valuables from the corpse they scamper off into the snow.
Something’s a little off about them to say the least, especially the little black kid that thinks he is some kind of military officer (my personal favourite of the troupe), and as an old man emerges from the wreckage mumbling about how the little tykes must be stopped, we know that these kids aren’t your average rugrats.
They’ve escaped from a psychiatric ward for psychotic and generally emotionally disturbed children – they get along together just fine though (convenient for our plot isn’t it?) and after spending ages and having hella fun in the process they make short work of the man chasing them (I’m assuming he was their doctor) and so they are free to exact their murderous plans on anyone they damn well please.
Mean while three, well it’s gotta be said, pretty goddamn fugly couples are having a weekend away in a chalet being looked after by Ralph (a former patient of Papa Doc who has been given a home in return for being the general dogsbody every time the family choose to stay there ) who has learning difficulties. An interesting little factoid for you – the actor who played Ralph also wrote the script for this film.
The children turn up and are allowed to stay after pulling on the heart strings of this (it’s got to be said highly unlikable group) and then the fun really begins ..
There are a lot of flaws with this film – it’s low budget and pretty grainy to watch, and goes from disturbing to absurd in a matter of seconds more than once ( the scene where the Papa Doc’s wife Lovely – would you believe her actual name – teases Ralph by attempting to seduce him, made me feel extremely uncomfortable, but ends with a ridiculous and very Russ Meyer style catfight in lingerie – and I wish this was an exaggeration on my part believe me). There’s also a pretty unnecessary sex scene that goes on for far too long, in my opinion. The female characters are stereotypical of the time – young and innocent, predatory female or nagging, embittered old shrew, but in the script writers defence the male characters aren’t exactly heroic or decent. I get the feeling that maybe it was supposed to be an attack of the social excesses and general hedonistic attitude of the time, as there seems to be less of a focus on the back story of the children and how they came to be murderous little demons and centred more around the petty squabbles and insecurities of the adults.
This film has some good selling points with the excellent death scenes (piranhas in the bathtub anyone?) and there’s some pretty good acting amongst the children (former child star Leif Garrett – ask your Mother or possibly hers – is fantastic as the sociopath David), and features the actor who played Boss Hogg in the Dukes of Hazzard – and I’m not talking about the Jessica Simpson version children.
A very low, budget, early grind house flick that needs to be seen once at least (if only to be believed).