Friday, May 29, 2009

Devil's Gift, The (1984)

Directed by:
Kenneth J. Berton

Return to sender! Susan (Vicki Saputo) buys a cymbal-playing toy monkey with glowing eyes at an antique store to give to her boyfriend's young son Michael (Struan Robertson) for his birthday. It turns out to be possessed by a demon, which means the electricity goes off, the plants wilt and Charlie the goldfish and Sparkle the dog are goners. Eventually it possesses Susan which puts dad David (Bob Mendlesohn) on a quest to find out what's going on. I think this was made by some Christian right-wing group to get back at the all the gory 80s slasher movies, because there's no violence, nudity or profanity. I can't think of a horror movie with more hugging, kissing, tickling, "knuckle sandwiches," back patting, good family values and platonic puppy-doggy lovey-dovey, and it's set in white bread middle class suburbia. David cheerfully tells his neighbor, "If there was a friend of the year award, you'd get it!" Even a psychic's home is littered with velvet paintings and statues of Jesus! Most of the running time is composed of the boring everyday events of boring everyday people, all set to bad elevator-style muzak. It copies Stephen King's short story "The Monkey" and is pure torture from start to finish.

The director's other 'film' Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996) is a two-part fantasy / horror anthology hosted by Ernest Borgnine. One of the segments in that film is actually The Devil's Gift in a condensed form; so you can now experience this awful movie in two separate versions! Both films have been bobbing in and out of IMDb's Bottom 100 for ages and the latter was even ridiculed on a popular episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000."

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