Regional horror films, by virtue of the fact that they tend to be created by artistic loners operating outside the confines of the traditional film inudstry, often veer into the outre -- consider the excesses of Nathan Schiff's Weasles Rip My Flesh (1979) or Tony Malanowski's impoverished The Curse of the Screaming Dead (1982), for example. But for the hands-down, all-out winner in terms of visual dementia and mind-blowing lapses of taste, nothing comes within spittin' distance of Chester Novell Turner's shot-on-video classic Black Devil Doll From Hell (1984).
Filmed with an off-the-rack camcorder, Black Devil Doll concerns the exploits of a possessed, blackface ventriloquist dummy who invades the life of pious, churchgoing Shirley L. Jones and proceeds to break just about every cinematic taboo you can think of, at least as far as cinematic taboos involving ventriloquist dummies go.
As boring as it is inexplicable, the film has been a favorite of bootleg tape traders ever since it first appeared. And now, the folks at Rotten Cotton and Massacre Video have announced an official Black Devil Doll From Hell DVD this October, complete with bonus features, detailed liner notes from Greg Goodsell, and as an added bonus, Turner's second SOV feature, Tales From the Quadead Zone.
We have high hopes the DVD will finally shed some light on the mysterious Turner, who seemingly vanished after completing his unforgettable camcorder epics. Although a Turner imposter turned up on MySpace a few years ago, the latest rumor is that he died in a car accident back in the 1990s.
Just when I was recovering from the news above, I noticed an item on the Fangoria Web site indicating that filmmaker Darren Lynn Bousman (director of three of the Saw sequels) has completed a remake of Charlie Kaufman's New Jersey-lensed Mother's Day, and is currently seeking a distributor. You can learn more about it at the official Web site, or over at Bousman's blog.
And finally, we just discovered that Code Red is releasing Nathan White's Michigan-lensed meditation on disease, garbage bags and cat hoarding, The Carrier (1988), which you can read more about over on The Bleeding Skull, if you are so inclined.
Meanwhile, back here at the ranch (house), I finally submitted a review of Horror High, along with an excerpt of my interview with director Larry Stouffer, to the fine folks over at SCREEM magazine for their Fall issue.