Devil Dog: Hound of Hell

Discussion in 'High Def' started by Dave, Nov 28, 2015.

  1. Dave

    Dave Pimp

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG] Reviewer: Dave
    Review Date: November 28, 2015

    Released by: Media Blasters / Shriek Show
    Release date: 07/26/2011
    MSRP: $19.98
    Region 1
    Progressive Scan
    Codec: AVC, 1080p
    Full Frame 1.33:1 | 16x9: No
    1978

    It's been about 30 years since I've seen Devil Dog: Hound From Hell. I was just a wee 8 year old child at the time. Between a combination of cable TV and a local public channel, I was often watching countless Elivra hosted trash flicks, Corman B movies like Humanoids from the Deep and Piranha, and of course the Creature Double Feature with frequent appearances by Godzilla and pals. Devil Dog was another childhood regular of mine, a made for TV movie featuring a hound from hell. I don't remember much about it, except that is used to scare the shit out of me. Will Devil Dog haunt my dreams 30 years later? Or have I finally outgrown my fear of demonic canines? Lets give this bluray from Media Blasters/Shriek Show a spin and find out.

    The Story

    inline Image When the family dog, Skipper, is found dead in the street, Mike (Richard Crenna) and Betty Barry (Yvette Mimieux) are devastated. Their children, Bonnie (Kim Richards) and Charlie (Ike Eisenmann) even more so, particularly Bonnie as it's her birthday. Bonnie insists on cancelling her birthday party so she can grieve in peace. When Bonnie and Charlie head out for a bike ride, they meet an old man selling vegetables out of the back of his pickup truck. Beside the vegetables is a German Shepard and her newborn litter of puppies. The old man explains to the brother and sister that he must find homes for the puppies by the end of the day. After some initial reluctance, Bonnie falls in love with the pup and convinces her brother to take one home.

    inline Image The Barry's maid, Marie, takes one look at the dog and senses an evil force to it. She begs Mike to get rid of it but he brushes off her concerns. The next day, Marie is found dead from a mysterious fire. Over the next few months as Lucky becomes fully grown, Mike begins to have his own concerns. These concerns are somewhat validated when Mike, working on a lawn mower in the yard, finds himself under a spell from Lucky's gaze. The lawn mover starts up and Mike finds his hand being drawn into the blade. He regains control at the last moment and is able to pull his hand away before it's torn to shreds. Charlie and Bonnie are cast under Lucky's spell and soon after Betty joins them. Strange happenings continue when their neighbor George's dog is found mauled to death. George suspects Lucky and vows to get revenge.

    inline Image With his family under Lucky's control, Mike is on his own. Deadly incidents continue and Mike finally realizes he needs help. He stops at a speciality book shop and the owner points him in the direction of Quito, Ecuador and a mysterious cliff side drawing. With no options left, Mike makes the trip. After some searching, he learns of an old man of magic up in the mountains. He finds the old man and learns that the demon cannot be killed but can be locked away for another 1,000 years. The old man gives Mike a gift that is his only chance at saving his family. The risk is that his own soul may be sent back to hell with the demon. Mike accepts the gift and heads home for a final confrontation with the hound from hell.

    inline Image Devil Dog first aired in 1978 and it's horribly dated with 70s decor in full force, fluffy shag carpets and all. It was fun revisiting a childhood favorite. While it doesn't hold up too well, nostalgia often wins me over and that was exactly the case here. The sensible side of me realizes this is a god awful movie with a silly premise and simply not enough payoff to appease most horror fans. Yet I couldn't help but enjoy it. There's no gore present - not all that surprising for a made for TV movie. The score holds up very well and manages to impress, creating a sense of doom and foreboding each and every time Lucky starts working her magic. The score alone can't carry this movie, however. Thankfully with the help of some veteran actors, above average performances are given by the entire cast. Richard Crenna, the father, had an impressive fifty year career in movies and TV. Many will remember him as the colonel is the first three Rambo movies. Lets not forget the two childhood stars of Disney's Witch Mountain movies, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann. The duo once again portray the role of brother and sister with ease. While quality acting can help ease the pain of a bad movie, it still can't make a bad movie good. Even so, I can't help but be a bit charmed by Devil Dog, knowing full well if the movie were made today it would be full of awful CGI. That isn't to say the few effects here aren't quite bad. They are. But at least it's of an actual dog of some sort, growling away and magnified to look like some sort of, well, hound from hell.

    inline Image In today's era full of movies featuring humans and dolls with demonic possession, often filled with gore and at least average effects, there's isn't much room for a hound from hell. Yet if you find yourself yearning to visit a low budget movie with quality production, from an era long before digital video, found footage, and Kickstarter backed garbage, give Devil Dog a try. I would take this any day of the week over the countless zero budget junk being released today from the likes of Full Moon and other lesser known studios. Don't expect too much, have a few drinks before and during playback, and you may just be pleasantly surprised. It may be another 30 years before I revisit this one, but I have no doubt it will get another spin from me someday. Recommended with reservations.

    Image Quality

    For a made for TV movie from 1978, Devil Dog's transfer is fairly impressive, all things considered. Presented in its original 4:3 ratio (remember it was shot for TV), the image is sharp and well detailed throughout much of film. There are some scenes with some softness and grain present, mostly in darker or nighttime scenes. Minor signs of print damage appear at times - some dirt and occasional specks - also minimal. Colors are subdued but I have no doubt they match the day it was filmed on what I'm sure was cheap film stock. The handful of scenes where Lucky is shown in all her devil dog glory (i.e. effects scenes), the image becomes significantly soft and washed out. I suspect these effects scenes, likely edited on tape, were simply upconverted from a standard definition source. These scenes amount to several minutes of runtime, much of which is at the conclusion where there are many effects shots. Presented on a BD50 disc and with a full 25gb devoted to the movie itself, the discs boasts an adequate bitrate and no visible compression artifacts were discovered during my viewing. While it may seem like I have lots of comments on the image, some of which are negative, make no mistake that I was impressed with the transfer overall. This is a long forgotten made for TV movie that is nearing 40 years of age. The very fact we have it in high definition, even with its flaws, is an impressive feat. I'm rating it with a B-.

    Sound

    The sound suffers from a pretty significant flaw that will certainly impact my recommendation for the disc. There's some background distortion that is present throughout the majority of the film. I researched this further and discovered a thread on bluray.com where others complained of the same flaw. This confirms it is not something specific to my setup. The distortion was described as sounding like "water boiling", which is as good of a description as any. Imagine a big pot of water at full boil - maybe full of pasta. That sound with the water at full boil and waves of bubbles popping about - that is what this background noise sounds like. It's certainly distracting and unfortunately took away from my enjoyment of the movie. Besides this significant flaw, the rest of the DTS-HD 2.0 track is fairly run-of-the-mill. Dialogue is clear and no other issues were found. Still, I have no choice but to rate the sound with a D. What's worse is I have confirmed the problem is not present on the DVD release by Media Blasters/Shriek Show in 2005. Had it been, I actually would have been a little more accepting of it. As it stands, this is just a blatant quality control problem and that's extremely disappointing.

    Supplemental Material

    Surprisingly there are quite a few extras on the bluray, all ported over from the 2005 DVD release. First up is To The Devil A Dog, a 73 minute segment that is broken up into interviews with producer Jerry Zeitman and actors Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann. Clips from the movie are included and that certainly pads the runtime a bit. Zeitman shares some insight information about the production as well as the cast and crew. I enjoyed it. Next is Kim Richards. She shares thoughts on her character as well as actors Richard Crenna and Ike Eisenmann, plus shares countless anecdotes. Her interview quickly becomes tiresome as she begins to ramble on and on about a dog, a beech house, and countless other drivel. While she does share some a good amount of behind-the-scenes information, it's painful to listen to her go on and on. I made it through about 15 minutes and started jumping around - it doesn't get any better. The last and shortest interview is actor Ike Eisenmann; it runs about 10 minutes.

    inline Image inline Imageinline Image
    A separate audio interview with director Curtis Harrington is included. It runs about 15 minutes in length. Harrington openly admits he took the job for a paycheck and it quickly became evident he has nothing good to say. I'm okay with him being honest but I couldn't help but wonder why they even bothered with it. He's extremely negative the entire interview and it was a chore to listen to.

    Next is a short video essay titled Martine Beswicke: Queen of Evil. It gives a brief overview of her career and includes a handful of quotes by the actress. Beswicke plays a cult member at the beginning of the movie that buys a dog to become the demonic host. She played in several cult films as well as a Bond film. She has such a small role in Devil Dog that I was surprised to see this inclusion. I have to admit I had no idea who she was until viewing the essay. It's an enjoyable read and I was left with a list of her movies to checkout in the near future.

    Closing out the supplements is a 4 minute trailer to Zombie Holocaust, Kim Richards interview outtakes (22 minutes long!!!), a 3-minute stills gallery on Martine Beswicke, a short TV spot for Devil Dog, and a short essay listing the film career of Curtis Harrington. While it's great to have a few hours of supplements here, the unfortunate truth is that most of them are mediocre at best.

    Final Thoughts

    Curl on up with a box of devil dogs and enjoy this cheesy romp from the 70s. Just know what you're getting into - that's the only way you might get some enjoyment from the film. If you're looking for gore and edge of your seat scares, look elsewhere. If you think you'll enjoy some 70s cheese featuring a demonically possessed German Shepard, give Devil Dog a spin. While I enjoyed the HD presentation, the sound has a major flaw that fans will have to take into consideration when deciding whether to purchase this disc. It's worth noting that the DVD release from 2005 does not have the sound flaw. Fans are now forced to decide between a SD DVD with proper sound or an HD bluray with flawed sound. Both releases contain the same forgettable extras that you are better off skipping. An unfortunate mixed bag of a release here. Even with a B in the video grade, this Devil Dog bluray gets an overall grade of a D thanks to mediocre supplements and a significant sound flaw. Buyer beware.

    Rating

    [​IMG] Movie - C

    Image Quality - B

    Sound - D

    Supplements - C


    Technical Info.
    • Color
    • Not Rated
    • 1 Disc
    • English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
    • Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
    Supplements
    • To The Devil A Dog: Interviews with cast and crew (73 minutes)
    • Audio interview with director Curtis Harrington (15 minutes)
    • Martine Beswicke: Queen of Evil - video essay
    • Film career of Curtis Harrington
    • Kim Richard interview outtakes (22 minutes)
    • TV spot
    • Zombie Holocaust trailer
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015
    indrid13 likes this.
  2. Franco

    Franco Weekender

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    The musical score was very creepy to me when I saw it as a child.
     
  3. Erick H.

    Erick H. Well-Known Member

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    I saw it as a child, remember it as kinda mediocre.However, I DID remember it well after all these years, so that's saying something, it's just odd enough to stick with you. Too bad about the sound issues.
     

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