This is the perfect episode of MST3K to accompany Child's Play and Toy Story 4


There are so many streaming options available today and many conflicting recommendations that are hard to see through all the crap you may be watching. Every Friday, The VergeThe Cut the Crap column simplifies the choice by rating the huge variety of movies and TV shows in subscription services and recommending a perfect thing to watch this weekend.

What to watch

Devil Doll, a British horror film of 1964 that Mike Nelson and his robot compare to Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot mocking mercilessly of an episode of the 8th season Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which originally aired October 4, 1997). Bryant Haliday, best known for being one of the co-founders of US film distributor Janus Films, plays The Great Vorelli, a sinister ventriloquist and hypnotist with many followers in London. William Sylvester, best known for playing Dr. Heywood Floyd in 2001: an Odyssey in Spaceis an American journalist who takes her girlfriend Marianne (Yvonne Romain) to one of Vorelli's shows where she falls under his hypnotic spell. Sylvester struggles to save Marianne's soul while also trying to uncover the secret of Vorelli's disturbing animation dummy, Hugo.

Why watch now?

Because Toy Story 4 and the most recent Child's play film opened this weekend in theaters everywhere.

Neither the 1988 original Child's play nor the 1995 Toys Story has pioneered the idea of ​​a story about children's toys that come to life and move regardless of their owners. The ballet The Nutcrackerthe operetta Babes in Toylandand countless early Walt Disney cartoons imagined childhood to be a tumultuous fantasy land where inanimate occupants of any nursery could jump off the shelf and have little adventures at any moment. On the darker side, the British horror anthology film of 1945 Evening draft is most remembered for his final segment, "The Ventriloquist Dummy," in which Michael Redgrave plays an unbalanced musical artist who does not trust his own puppet.

Evening draft has been extremely influential in the horror genre, with its basic themes and ideas repeated in the 1978 thriller Magic as well as countless episodes of TV anthology series as The Twilight Zone, Gallery of the nightand Alfred Hitchcock Presents, among others. The Twilight Zone is also responsible for introducing the killer toy "Talking Tina" in the 1963 episode of "Living Doll". The Simpsons parodies that deal with dangerous puppets in the segment "Treehouse of Horror" "Clown Without Pity," the recent supernatural suspense franchise Annabelle borrows from it, and the villain Toy Story 4 pays homage to it. The horror anthology of 1975 TV movies Trilogy of Terror presents another influential tale of dangerous puppets: "Amelia," starring Karen Black as a single woman trying to fight a wooden statuette wielding a spear.

Devil DollHugo is definitely as monstrous as Annabelle, Chucky or Talking Tina, with his plaster smile, defiant attitude and mysterious ability to jump from Vorelli's lap and walk around. Still, the film itself is awkward and awkward and best attended in the company of Mystery Science Theater 3000 technical team Mike and the bots happily rip all the long takes from unnecessarily low angles, as well as the many scenes without drama that seem to last forever and go nowhere. (When William walks into his car, Mike jokes: "It's only twenty minutes to my house. I'm sure the audience will not mind attending.")

Devil DollThe scariest scenes and the best ideas come late and share some similarities with Trilogy of Terror and Child's play in the way they suggest that murderous toys are possessed by restless spirits trapped in bodies made of wood and plastic. The end result of the film – if it had been part of a more competent film – could even be worthy of The Twilight Zone.

Photo: Orion Pictures

Who is it for?

People who find the concept of living toys disturbing or silly.

It is possible that someone who has found an unadulterated version of Devil Doll on TV in the middle of the night, may be afraid of Hugo, who is a horrifying mannequin – especially when his master Vorelli puts a knife in his little hand. But it's hard to take this little criminal seriously in the MST3K version of the movie in which Mike and the bots respond to Hugo's claims about never being fed by making his best impression of a vaudeville, shouting, "Everybody is thrilled when Hugo gets his own onion dip!"

This one Mystery of Science Theater episode also has fun with the idea of ​​anthropomorphism in a sketch in which the soul of Tom Servo is transferred to a giant Toaster Strudel – who then watches the rest of the film, with its rectangular silhouette seen next to Mike and Crow. Most of the time, the spectacle impresses with the absurdity of the Great Vorelli, with its charisma little evident and its complicated evil schemes facilitated by Hugo. Mike puts it better after Vorelli uses his powers of persuasion to seduce his half-naked female assistant, and then lets her share: "There is no god. Not a single god.

Where to see

Tubi (for free with ads). Meanwhile, Trilogy of Terror is on Amazon, and the episode "Living Doll" from The Twilight Zone is available to Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, or CBS All Access subscribers. The most recently Annabelle movie, Annabelle Comes Home, opens wide in theaters next Wednesday.


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