Let me make this clear before we even get started; in no way should my hilarious review of this movie convince you to seek it out. I was arrogant and thought I could handle this movie. I was WRONG. Don’t let the fact that a young Leif Garrett, his mom, and his sister are in this convince you that it will be ok. Don’t even let the fact that Leif cross-dresses and yells at himself convince you. This movie needs a surgeon-general’s warning that the awesome last thirty minutes in no way compensate for the awful first hour.
The movie I’m talking about is 1974’s Devil Times Five.
The opening title is the coolest thing about the movie. For reals. It looks like it should be the cover of an album of Misfits’ b-sides. I want it as a t-shirt.
The movie is about a group of the bickeringest couples in the world, possibly the universe going to a ski chalet. Not far away, a van full of children crashes. It becomes clear early on that these children are crazy and heading on a collision-course for wacky with the bickering couples. FUN, WHOOO, right? No, you are wrong to think that. There’s absolutely nothing endearing about the grown-ups, you just end up being mightily annoyed by them. Although, the woman who plays Rosario on Will and Grace is one of the people there.
Oh, Leif Garret’s mom awkwardly tries to seduce the mentally-retarded handyman.
There’s a groovy, seventies-style catfight after the seduction attempt.
And the children…I love me some evil-children movies, I really do. But this movie suffers from a case of telling and not showing. You know, how in creative writing etc. you should show the information you want the reader to see, not tell them. Plus, the kids are so vaguely drawn as to be virtually indistinguishable. Leif’s the leader. His hair changes so often that it’s hard to keep track of him. There’s a soldier-kid, a nun-kid, a girl who likes fire, and Leif’s sister.
Before they meet the grownups, they kill the doctor in the slowest motion possible. I’ve read about this movie on the internet before that referenced the five-minute killing scene. It is actually five minutes. In black-and-white for some reason. With all kinds of crazy angles so you can’t see what’s happening half the time. For some reason. And with a musical saw and little electronic beeps for music. For some reason.
It’s not until the last half-hour that the movie picks up. The adults finally realize that there’s something wrong with the kids. The phones are down and Leif disabled the car so they’re trapped.
Then Leif cross dresses.
They finally, FINALLY get their kill on. They kill Leif’s mom with piranhas.
They attack this one guy, Papa Doc (?), with a sword attached to a swing.
The rest of the group is killed with fire, a spear, and bear traps. At one point, Leif falls off of a ladder and screams, “Look what you did to my face! MY BEAUTIFUL FACE!”
The movie ends with the kids playing in the house with the various grown-up corpses saying how the people toys are broken and they need to move someplace else. And the movie ends but instead of saying “The End” it says “The Beginning.” THIS JUST BLEW MY MIND.
From what I’ve read about the movie, the original director was a drunk who never finished what he started so he got about thirty minutes worth of usable footage. Then he was replaced with a new director. By then, Leif was involved with a new project so his hair was very different from his hair in the original shoot, Hence, his incredible, changing hair. There are still continuity errors aplenty, like when Leif blames one of his killings on someone named “Greg” who we’ve never seen before, we never meet, and who’s never referenced again.
What I really hated about this movie is that I liked the premise so much but the execution was so poor. There are about two parts in the movie that are actually creepy–when Rosario’s character was set on fire, because they show her flailing and screaming for a really long time, and the end when they have the corpses in the room with them. But those two moments can’t make up for an hour-and-a-half of boredom. Just trust that I showed you the best parts of the movie and try to move on with your lives.