Wicked Wednesday: Devil Times Five (1974)

Devil Times Five, originally titled People Toys aka The Horrible House on the Hill aka Tantrums is a 1974 killer kids movie. The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, It’s Alive, The Village of the Damned – the 60s and 70s just loved creepy kids.

This isn’t one that’s going to stand out from that particularly strong bunch. If it does, it’s sort of for all the wrong reasons.

In the snowy mountains, a bus carrying a group of children crashes. The children manage to escape with a nun, who was also on the bus. They manage to make their way to a chalet, where a group of not-so-great adults are spending their time.

The adults include Julie and her boyfriend, Rick, her father and his wife, and another couple to help bump up the body count. They fight. They have petty jealousies. It’s all meant to give character development, but it doesn’t add much texture.

When they find the children (and nun) in the house one morning, they decide to take them in and help them. Unbeknownst to them, the kiddos and their nun killed off their physician. Surprise! They’re all super dangerous.

The kids, with no moral conscience, begin to kill off the adults one-by-one. But of course, they’re a bit subtle about it at first, making only some of the adults suspicious. It’s too late by the time they realise that the adults are the prey and the children the predators. The children remain cool and collected throughout, making it even more unnerving watching them do these heinous crimes.

This movie definitely doesn’t have a happy ending. But it’s gleefully bad-mannered. And it’s fun.

According to an article cited on the film’s Wiki, the team had a great time filming this. And for that, I’ve very glad for them! In the end, you created a whole damn movie! That’s an amazing achievement.

However, this movie didn’t work for me. The editing, for one, is super odd. There’s so much slow-motion used. I wonder if that was just to make the running time hit 88 minutes. Disguise it as art and no one will know! But it does kill the suspense.

There is very little gore here despite good setups for each of the kills. I’m not sure if it was a budget thing or what, but there are a lot of cutaways here.

If you like killer kid movies, give this one a watch. It’s unlikely to be in anyone’s top five – but it’s an oddity worth seeking out for fans of the subgenre.

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