VHS Vault Presents: Devil Times Five, part of October’s “Family Values” Series

See it in the cafe for Free on October 1 at 8pm.

In a secluded cabin in the middle of who-knows-where, an unpleasant band of bougie caricatures have gathered to suck up to the cabin’s wealthy owner, a humorless entrepreneur named Papa Doc (Gene Evans). There’s not much love holding this group together. In fact, within minutes of arriving on their vacation (at least, I guess it’s a vacation) there are cat fights and liquor fueled arguments galore.

On top of the tense air and the lack of heat, things get even more unpleasant for our feckless protagonists when five stranded, oddball kids show up in their living room asking for help. Come to find out, these little orphans are on the lam from the kid’s ward at the local insane asylum and are in the middle of a grown-up killing rampage.

Because the first two acts of Devil Times Five don’t develop much of anything, a large portion of the movie simply acts as a way to introduce various murder weapons. What a mighty fine gun rack this cabin has. Boy, this lighter sure sets off a big flame. Hey, a tank full of piranhas!

Once all of the adults’ pointless hand-wringing about winning over Papa Doc’s approval gives way to the getting killed by children portion of the film, Devil Times Five does start to pay out on its premise. There are axes to the head, some nifty murder machines, and, yes, a bathtub full of piranhas.

All of it leads to a closing scene so utterly brilliant that I suspect that the entire movie was reverse-engineered just to get to that point.

After dispatching of the adults, the film shows the kids hanging out in Papa Doc’s ravaged mountain home, drinking booze and playing dress up with their newest batch of corpse-toys. The scene may be short, but it’s delightfully morbid. The adults are burned, stabbed and abused beyond recognition, and have become life-sized dolls for the kids’ enjoyment. Few horror movies allow their murderers a chance like this to enjoy the fruits of their grizzly labor, and even though most of Devil Times Five fades from memory as soon as the credits roll, its closing moments makes the whole movie worthwhile.