Directed By: Curtis Harrington
Starring: Richard Crenna, Yvette Mimieux, Kim Richards
Trivia: This marked the 3rd time Kim Richards and Ike Eisenman played brother and sister in a movie
A 1978 made-for-TV movie that debuted on Halloween night, Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell is almost as silly as its title would lead you to believe.
After their beloved dog dies in an accident, the Barry family: dad Mike (Richard Crenna), mom Betty (Yvette Mimieux), and kids Bonnie (Kim Richards) and Charlie (Ike Eisenmann), adopt a puppy from a seemingly friendly fruit vendor (E.G. Armstrong). In reality, though, the fruit vendor is a Satanist, and the puppy was bred during a dark ceremony. Now possessed by a demon, this dog begins to influence members of the Barry family. Only Mike remains free of the dog’s control, and realizing the pooch is a force of evil, sets out to destroy it. But how exactly do you kill the devil?
Due to its limited budget, not to mention the restrictions of network television (the show premiered on CBS), Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell doesn’t feature much on-screen violence (we’re led to believe the Barry’s maid, Maria, played by Tina Minard, meets a fiery end, but we don’t know for sure because we see very little of her death scene). What’s more, the film’s story, about a possessed dog that controls its owners with mind power, is more than a little goofy (as a result, it never really generates any tension). Add in some shoddy special effects (including a late scene where the dog grows to a ridiculous size), and you have a horror movie that’s entirely devoid of thrills.
It's not that Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell has no redeeming qualities whatsoever; I kinda liked the effect that made the dog’s eyes glow, and Richard Crenna does a solid job as the father fighting to save his family, all of whom have fallen under the control of the possessed pooch. Also keep a look-out for Hammer Horror’s Martine Beswick, who appears briefly in the ritual scene. But these few aspects aside, Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell falls way short of the mark.