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The Devil's Messenger

USA/Sweden 1961
produced by
Gustaf Unger, Kenneth Herts for Herts-Lion International
directed by Herbert L. Strock, Curt Siodmak
starring Lon Chaney jr, Karen Kadler, Michael Hinn, John Crawford, Ralph Brown, Inga Botorp, Eve Hossner, Edward Maze, Frank Taylor, Sara Harts, Jason Lindsay, Lennart Melin, Tor Steen, Gordon Adler, Ann Catrine Widlund, Gunnel Broström, Chalmers Goodlin, Brigitta Alm, Len Cooper
written by Leo Guild, Dory Langdon (= Dory Previn), Curt Siodmak, music by Lennart Fors, Alfred Gwynn

13 Demon Street

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Satanya (Karen Kadler) comes to Hell's Gate because she has killed herself. But Satan (Lon Chaney jr) has pity with the woman (or so he says) and promises her that she can stay out of Hell as long as she does his bidding and delivers objects to earth that will in turn send their recipients (or at least someone) to Hell for good.

  • The first object is a camera that goes to a cynical and promiscuous photographer, Donald Powell (John Crawford), who just takes a week of fashion photography to photograph some art. Among other things, he takes a picture of a farmhouse, out of which then exits a woman. He tries to chat her up, but she doesn't seem to notice him. Finally at a quiet spot, he rapes and kills her ...
    Back home, he is more tense than ever, while his agent has gotten him, a show at a gallery ... and wouldn't you know it, the photo of the farmhouse is to be the centerpiece of the exhibition.
    In shock, Donald tears the photo off the wall and takes it back home - but at home, he suddenly sees the woman he has raped and killed, appear on the photo, first only as a small figure in the back, but soon she seems to be coming ever closer to the camera, until she finally fills the picture. In shock, Donald tears apart the picture, and at exactly this moment, the woman appears in his appartment for real ... and he dies from shock.
  • The second object is a pick, used by a miner to open a shaft to a woman frozen in solid ice. Soon, a gang of scientists take the woman in ice to a museum, with two of them, Olsen and Seastrom, fighting over who will be responsible for the woman in ice. But eventually, Olsen, being an anthropologist, wins out over Seastrom, much to Seastrom's dismay, since he has fallen in love with the woman in ice (and even buys her cloths). So one fine day, Seastrom kills Olsen and freezes him solid in an iceblock. Then he begins to thaw the woman, who really seems to be alive ... but then she drowns inside her iceblock from the melting water (obviously this iceblock melts from the inside to the outside). But at the same time the iceblock Olsen was frozen in also melts ... and when the police, looking for Dr Olsen, arrives, they find Seastrom, obviously gone mad, with the dead Olsen ...
  • The third object is a crystal ball, and the story has to do with John Radian (Michael Hinn), Satanya's ex-lover and the very cause for her suicide. Radian seems to have an unfounded fear of a certain house he dreams about every night (and always wakes up screaming). So his psychiatrist advices him to enter the house, and so Radian does, only to find a fortune teller inside who tells him that the same night, at midnight, he will be killed, and he will be killed by her. Radian decides to not give the woman the chance to kill him, so he stays with her to watch her every move so she can't surprise him. Still the closer it gets to midnight, the more nervous he gets, until he picks one of the fortune tellers knives and stabs her dead, just before midnight. Then he flees the building, but a statue of the fortune teller, positioned over her door as an advertisment, suddenly falls down on him and strikes him dead ...
    When the police arrives, the building turns out to have been abandoned for years and the fortune teller Radian kiled was probably only a figment of his imagination.

... when Radian comes down to earth, Satan immediately recruits him as a messenger as well, because for his next assignement he needs a real life couple: Radian and Satanya have to deliver the formula for a 500 megaton atom bomb, to finally blow the earth to Kindgom Come ...

 

The Devil's Messenger is actually 3 episodes of the American-Swedish TV-series 13 Demon Street cobbled together, with Lon Chaney jr and Karen Kadler as Satan and Satanya (what a great, silly name) only appearing in the framing story. Reportedly, the series as such never aired on television.

The film itself is by no means good (which probably goes for the whole series), but if you do like slightly trashy horror, it's a so-so anthology film, it has its ok moments, it has its dull moments, but most important of all, it does have its unintentionally funny moments as well. And the not too well written stories are all mercifully short. And you can see Lon Chaney jr probably at the height of his alcoholism (at least he looks it), but still in full command of his dark but soothing voice.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD