Devil Doll (1964)

Lindsey Shotneff may have been born in Canada, but he made the majority of his films in the UK. Most famously, he co-wrote and directed the James Bond ripoff License To Kill in 1965, which was released in the U.S. as The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World.

In 1977, when there was a publicity battle between who owned James Bond — Albert R. Broccoli (The Spy Who Loved Me) vs. Kevin McClory (the projected James Bond of the Secret Service) — Shonteff made No. 1 of the Secret Service (AKA 008 of the Secret Service), Licensed to Love and Kill and Number One Gun.

He also made the horror film Night After Night After Night about a killer transvestite judge, the groupie film Permissive (it has the Collinson twins from Twins of Evil in it), The Yes Girls and The Big Zapper as well as its sequel, The Swordsman.

This movie got an X rating when it first came out, if you can believe that. Its original director was going to be Sidney J. Furie, who went on to make Iron Eagle and The Entity.

The Great Vorelli and his dummy Hugo perform before packed audiences in London, despite the strange tension between the two of them. Yes, more tension than is usually present in a dummy and performer relationship. Vorelli is played by Bryant Halliday, who did acting as pretty much a hobby, as his true job was running the 55th Street Playhouse in New York and using it as the primary location for exhibiting films distributed by the company he co-owned, Janus. Those films included works by Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa and Michelangelo Antonioni.

American reporter Mark English (William Sylvester, Dr. Floyd in 2001 A Space Odyssey) wants to know more, so he gets his girl Marianne (Yvonne Romain, The Curse of the Werewolf) to go to another show with him. Of course, Vorelli hypnotizes her and makes her dance the Twist. He’s a Svengali who wants to hypnotize her and make her his. And oh yes — Hugo is pretty much alive.

This movie is based on a tale that Frederick E. Smith wrote for London Mystery Magazine in 1951, earning ten pounds for its sale and giving up any rights. Then again, it’s also ripped off from the segment in Dead of Night, that has a killer doll named, you guessed it, Hugo.

You can watch the Mystery Science Theater version of this movie on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

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