DEVIL DOG: THE HOUND OF HELL (1978) Reviews of campy TV horror

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Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell is a 1978 American made-for-television supernatural horror film directed by Curtis Harrington (Ruby; The Dead Don’t Die; The Cat Creature; Night Tide; et al) from a screenplay by Stephen and Elinor Karpf (Gargoyles). The movie stars Richard Crenna, Yvette Mimieux, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann.

Artie Kane (Eyes of Laura Mars; The Bat People) composed the soundtrack score.

Married couple Mike (Richard Crenna) and Betty (Yvette Mimeaux) decide to buy their kids (Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann) a cute little puppy to replace their recently deceased dog. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to them, they adopt a hound from the local satanic cult that turns out to be a fuzzy demon from Hell.

Before her mysterious death, the maid is the first to suspect the pup is possessed. When the wife and kids start performing strange occult rituals, dad Mike suspects the dog has demonic powers and flies to Ecuador to seek the advice of a Shaman about exorcism rituals…

On July 26, 2011, Shriek Show released the movie on Blu-ray disc in a high-definition restoration from the original negative. Extras include:
Audio interview with Curtis Harrington
To the Devil a Dog featurette
Promotional trailer
Martine Beswick photo gallery
Martine Beswick text interview

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:
“If you have the patience, you’ll be rewarded with a fast peek at the (admittedly cool) hellhound when it eventually shows up, some mild terror and brightly colored outrage as the kids become enchanted and evil, mom gets horny, and the house goes mad.” DF Dresden, Are You in the House Alone?, Headpress, 2016

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“This is the sort of Val Lewton approach that Harrington put to good use in Night Tide… Best of all is the jokey casting of (Kim) Richards and (Ike) Eisenmann, previously seen as psychic siblings in (Disney’s) Escape to Witch Mountain…” Cinefantastique

“It was solid cheesy fun throughout. If you like 70s styles and décor, the Witch Mountain kids, young adult horror, made-for-TV horror [in which bad things might happen or be implied, but it’s never going to be really, really scary], and enjoy a current of true silliness peppered with some surprisingly suspenseful stuff… this may be for you!” Cinema de Merde

“A cute puppy with Village of the Damned style glowing eyes and a dog that just stares at people are not exactly the stuff of nightmares, unless you have some really f*cked up nightmares. I still think it’s worth a watch and it’s pretty entertaining for a 70s TV movie but one thing’s for certain: The wallpaper in the Barry household is far more frightening that anything conjured up by Devil Dog.” Crustacean Hate!

“Director Harrington does an outstanding job of keeping what could be a seriously bad, cheesy B-movie on track, and the cast sports two of this reviewer’s personal favorite TV-movie regulars from the era: Richard Crenna and Yvette Mimieux.” Debi Moore, Dread Central

” …suffers immensely through a cut-rate budget, halfheartedly implied shocks, laughable special effects, and uninspired direction by Harrington who was obviously going through the motions here. But perhaps this is what has given this cheesy little TV film such an undeserved following through the years?”  George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

“Putting aside the whole “Hound of Hell” idea and its inherent retardedness for a moment, this movie really does not deliver the goods. I mean, I’m not trying to tell Satan’s minions how to do their job or anything, but the damn dog doesn’t even bite anyone! Come on! All he does is stare. Stare stare stare and pant.” Final Girl

“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.” Horror Digital

“Despite the dense amount of action packed into its 95 minute running time, Devil Dog falls short in the special effects department. After the laughable final showdown between Mike and Lucky, the family becomes un-possessed and son Charlie reminds all that there were at least nine other puppies in the litter.” Kindertrauma

“” …tries to pretend a story about good white upper-class people being driven to evil by the family dog is somehow frightening […] Barely a scene goes by that does not feature something sublimely ridiculous. Especially the death by hypnotism scenes…” The Horror!?

” …this is pulp horror nonsense at its most oddly compelling. Harrington marshals some suspenseful sequences […] those who caught this as youngsters have never forgotten the delirious finale where the devil dog manifests in a ball of flames as a hideous horned goblin with frilly neckwear.” Andrew Pragasm, The Spinning Image

“Implausible but fun TV terror with decent performances from Crenna and Mimieux. Best scene: the weird ‘mirror while sleeping’ trick Mike uses to reveal his wife and children as possessed devils.” The Terror Trap

Choice dialogue:
Betty Barry: “Well, it’s the American way isn’t it? Since when aren’t we rewarded for being best?”

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