Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Devil-Doll (1936)

Two convicts escape together. One wants to exact revenge on his business partners who conspired to get him falsely imprisoned. The other wants to continue his work trying to make people little so that they eat less. When convict number 2 dies abruptly, convict 1 uses the talent of his creepy wife to complete his plan.

Wow, what crappy acting. I'm starting to think Lionel Barrymore wasn't the actor I thought he was. Seems the only part he can play is Lionel Barrymore. Still, he wasn't the worst offender in this one. Young hottie Maureen O'Sullivan did a good job playing a young hottie.

Allegedly classified as horror, it comes off more like a melodrama. The title makes it sound like an early version of Child's Play, but it's more of an early (and better) version of Attack of the Puppet People.

You see, shrinking people to six inches tall is fairly easy (obviously) but it seems their brain shrinks as well, making them incapable of free will. Lucky for convict 2, they can be controlled by staring at them with a constipated look on your face. Let's pack up the meth lab and head to Paris for some good old-fashioned revenge! Wait, how does an escaped convict and an off the grid swamp-scientist afford that? Best not to ask such questions.

Here is Tod Browning's penultimate (that's fancy-talk for second to last) directorial effort. I've seen a fair number of them and still not sure what to make of him. Seems he does well with good talent around him, and not so much otherwise. Freaks supposedly ruined his career, but he was pushing 60 by the time he did his last seven years later. Maybe TCM will run a bio on him sometime.

It's a fair, very watchable movie, that's not terribly crafted. The oversized sets for the little people to climb on were well done. And the special effects, while not amazing, were good for the day. Not Tod Browning's worst work. AMRU 3.

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