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Arts and Entertainment

Movie Review: Black Devil Doll

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Photo courtesy of Shawn P. Lewis

Surprisingly, Black Devil Doll is not the first blaxploitation killer-doll horror film. Cult TV movie Trilogy of Terror spawned the sub-sub-genre with a zany Zuni* fetish doll all the way back in 1975, and the unrelated Black Devil Doll From Hell introduced all the best elements of the video-era: awful sex and even worse production values. Continuing blaxploitation killer-doll horror's proud advancement (degradation?) into the 21st century, Black Devil Doll features porn stars, necrophiliac rape, rampant racial slurs & gore galore. If any of that bothers you, it's best you stop reading here; Black Devil Doll is exactly what you think it is. If you're still reading, Black Devil Doll is exactly what you think it is, and more: joyfully campy, gleefully offensive & a hell of a fun time.

Mubia is a black revolutionary wrongfully sent to the electric chair for raping & murdering white women. Precocious teen porn star Heather passes her time playing with ventriloquist dummies & Ouija boards. You don't have to be too horror-savvy to know that this is a roomful of bodies waiting to happen. At the stroke of midnight, Mubia is executed and Heather inadvertently Ouijas his soul into her dummy, infusing him with curly hair, a baadasssss attitude & a mouth that would make Richard Pryor roll over in his grave. The two fall deeply in love, but their relationship faces its greatest test when Heather's porn star friends come over for a girls' night of car-washing, showering, bathing & Twister. For once Heather leaves to grab food, an influx of slavery images, black power memories & demonic influences overwhelms Mubia (via a kaleidoscopic collision the filmmakers dub "Negroscope") and the starlets meet their ends in increasingly violent fashion. Maybe that all-white jury was all right...

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Photo courtesy of Shawn P. Lewis

Were any of this played with a straight face, Black Devil Doll would be truly disgusting. Instead, it's disgustingly funny. Mubia's cartoonish appearance, accompanied by the ladies' appropriately wooden performances keep the racial stereotypes & epithets firmly entranced in the silly. Low-camera angles push already-massive mammaries even further over-the-top (Russ Meyer would be proud), while cheap one-liners & buckets of blood render even the most malicious murders completely ridiculous. Think John Waters goes blaxploitation; tasteless humor and images couch social satire in their excess. Make no mistake; as Reverend Al Sharpton told the filmmakers (and they proudly announced on the DVD cover), it's "lowest common denominator entertainment". But none of it is serious for even a second, and as an uproarious audience at the New Beverly's recent midnight premiere affirmed, it sure is entertaining.

Touring as a roadshow, the Black Devil Doll premiere played host to other festivities as well. Producer Shawn Lewis of RottenCotton.com (which receives one of the most shameless on-screen plugs in cinematic history) was on-hand to give away posters & t-shirts. Director Jonathan Lewis joined him & the crew for a lengthy Q&A, frequently interrupted by drunk women and requests for "more dick!". Of course, it's possible these revelers were still reeling from Lewis' unique method of "giving autographs" via flinging sex toys into the audience. If I have to tell you how big and black they were, you should have stopped reading in the first paragraph.

The Black Devil Doll roadshow returns next Friday, May 1, at Long Beach's Art Theatre. Co-sponsored by Mondo Celluloid, the event will feature all the madness, all the blackness & a performance by "The Original Dirty Rapper", Blowfly. Check out the very-NSFW trailer here.

* The Zuni are a Native American tribe, but it's definitely an African doll. Blame the all-white producers and the decade's lack of Wikipedia.

Review by Edward Yerke-Robins