The Devil's Bloody Playthings (2004)
By: Devon B. on February 7, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Alternative Cinema (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 78 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: William Hellfire
Starring: Ruby LaRocca, Zoe Moonshine, Shannon Selberg, Mave Wilson
Screenplay: William Hellfire
Country: USA
New York. An icky woman (Ruby LaRocca) likes to degrade, dominate, blackmail, humiliate, and mindfuck her flatmate. I'd like to say it was the character that made me find LaRocca icky, but I think she's just one of those people who are inherently gross. Anyway, when her latest victim gets fed up and makes a break for it, LaRocca has to find a new mark. Enter Zoe Moonshine, recently emigrated from Africa. There's some slightly amusing dialog revolving around Moonshine's nationality during the pair's initial meeting, but the movie's downhill from there, and it wasn't very high uphill to begin with.

Moonshine accepts the room, despite being told her new landlady tapes people without their knowledge for a living, and subsequently having LaRocca bore her with bullshit about her icky life. Moonshine stays despite living in a room with a banner that sports the word 'CUNTBAG,' and being immediately subject to sexually aggressive behaviour. Since that wasn't enough, it should come as no surprise that having her photo taken while using the toilet and being slapped around also aren't enough to have her pack up and leave. I understand rentals are tough to get in New York, but Moonshine has a friend of the family also offering to put her up. Moonshine starts to get a bit wound up, naturally, and begins to experience freak outs a little too similar to those found in Roman Polanski's Repulsion.

The Devil's Bloody Playthings is a bit like Single White Female on crack, with heightened sexual games and a power tripping voyeur landlady instead of a usurping flatmate. While a, fairly illogical, reason is presented at the end, it's impossible to imagine anyone with an easy out such as Moonshine's character has would have stayed past the first night. A viewer needs some believability to suspend, and here there's none.

The dialog is odd, with forced swearing coming off particularly awkward. Perhaps the lines would've come off better from the mouths of more competent professionals, but who could say, 'who's dripping with a cunt full of fucking Chlamydia?' and have it sound right? The directing offers a few hints at style, which was a pleasant surprise. The Devil's Bloody Playthings wasn't helmed by the next Argento, but at least some care went into staging of the camera at times. The film is too slow, but Zoe succumbs really quickly to doing whatever she's told. So, it's too quickly paced in this major plot element, but there's so much nudie padding provided by Zoe that the film drags overall. Yes, The Devil's Bloody Playthings has managed to be too fast and too slow at the same time.

As for the 'bloody' bit of the title, it takes almost an hour till the horror aspect makes it on screen. Then the playthings get bloody via some really cheap gore as the film spirals to a nonsensical ending.
Video
The Devil's Bloody Playthings is presented at 1.33:1. It's a shot on video movie, yet still has flubbed lines. Technology has improved, so the movie looks better than older SOVs like Shatter Dead and Redneck Zombies. The image is still a bit soft, but this doesn't feel like you're watching a home video. The blooper footage has the same image quality, so obviously not much work went into the film proper's transfer.
Audio
The audio is a low, English two channel track. The track features background hiss, jumps around in volume levels a bit, and a lot of the dialog is lost. Sometimes this is the fault of the track, as when the pretentious and ponderous score overpowers the lines, but a lot of it has to do with the very mumbly Zoe Moonshine. In fact, both lead actresses needed some serious diction lessons. Again, the bloopers seem to have the same volume quality, so no one appears to have bothered to properly mix the film's audio track.
Extra Features
The DVD comes with the film's trailer, as well as one for a film with the best Drive-In title ever: Orgasm Torture in Satan's Rape Clinic. There's also a booklet with brief background on the film company Electric Daisy Pushers, including mention of founder and The Devil's Bloody Playthings writer/director William Hellfire, and brief info on Zoe. For some reason, 12 minutes of bloopers are included. 12 minutes would be a lot even presented in an entertaining fashion like at the end of a Jackie Chan movie, but here it's tedious for the entire runtime.
The Verdict
I guess The Devil's Bloody Playthings is supposed to be edgy, boundary pushing, alternative cinema like The Doom Generation, but ever since Baise Moi took that genre to its sexually violent (yet still boring) extreme, any film like this is just retreading tired ground. I understand the idea is to make traditional grindhouse fair, but when the role models the director is following are Jess 'Zoom Boy' Franco and Roberta and Michael Findlay, you've got to wonder. The Findlay's were truly two of a kind, and Franco almost exclusively made utter shit, so why try to emulate either?
Movie Score
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