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Case Number 09470

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The Devil's Bloody Playthings

Alternative Cinema // 2005 // 84 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // June 16th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Mitchell Hattaway thinks the Devil should just get some Legos like any other decent kid.

The Charge

Sarah: "You're sick. You're f***ed up and sick!"

Christine: "I'm sick? Give me your panties and we'll see who's sick!"

Opening Statement

You know what's sad? That's not the worst dialogue exchange in the movie.

Facts of the Case

Upon her arrival in the United States, a naïve South African woman named Karen (Zoe Moonshine, Flesh for Olivia) moves in with Christine (Ruby LaRocca, Dr. Horror's Erotic House of Idiots), a hip young woman who earns a living making hidden camera videos. Christine quickly begins belittling, torturing, and exploiting Karen. Karen slowly becomes disconnected with reality, starts hallucinating, and eventually snaps, venting her pent-up rage in a murderous rampage.

The Evidence

According to the filmmakers, The Devil's Bloody Playthings was inspired by, of all things, Roman Polanski's Repulsion. Okay, I can sort of see that. Both feature young women slowly going crazy and offing a couple of people, but that's where the similarities end. Repulsion is brilliantly acted, crafted, and photographed, while The Devil's Bloody Playthings is…wait a minute. Do I actually need to tell you why it's blasphemous that the people behind this movie—director William Hellfire and star Zoe Moonshine—actually have the nerve to mention their movie in the same breath as Polanski's classic? Can anything actually be gained by comparing and contrasting the cinema of the man who made Chinatown and Knife in the Water with that of the man who made Bikini Girls on Dinosaur Planet and Lust in the Mummy's Tomb? Man, I was actually about to go through with it. What could I have been thinking?

Here's the long and the short of The Devil's Bloody Playthings: the writing, acting, and direction are laughably bad. It's amateurish nonsense from the first frame to the last. Early scenes have Karen arriving in America and agreeing to immediately move in with the first person she meets. Christine soon begins trying to control Karen, dressing her new roommate in a series of provocative outfits. (It's really not so bad that Christine dresses Karen, as Karen apparently arrived in the U.S. with no clothes or possessions of any kind.) Karen sees nothing strange in Christine's behavior, but then Christine starts taking Polaroids of her while she's sitting on the toilet. This would probably be enough to cause anyone else to find new lodgings, but Karen sticks around. Hell, Karen doesn't even bother to leave after Christine drags her to a park and tells several of her friends that Karen is their new plaything. (Director Hellfire, who happens to be married to Moonshine, plays one of LaRocca's hipster doofus friends in this scene. This allows him to shove his hand up his wife's skirt and manually manipulate her all for the sake of his art. Ah, love.) That's the really stupid thing about this movie. It's purportedly a dark, probing, psychological study, but there's no rhyme or reason to any of Karen's actions. She's just plain dumb. At least Polanski provided…ah, hell, I was about to do it again.

As you can probably expect, this movie features quite a bit of exposed female flesh. Moonshine spends nearly half her screen time in various stages of undress, and LaRocca spends a fair amount of time with her womanhoods exposed. Now here's where the filmmakers really start piling up the bovine feces. Despite the fact these two women are primarily known for disrobing in crappy, low budget flicks, the nudity here is intended to be shocking and disturbing, making the audience feel uncomfortable as it's dragged into the world of voyeuristic degradation Christine creates. No, really. Moonshine says as much in an interview featured on the disc's production insert. It's right there in black and white. Still not convinced, are you? Neither am I. Come on, we're talking about two women who will flash their goods with less provocation than even Jenny Agutter. Disturbing? No. Boring? Yes. Honestly, I've seen these women naked enough times to whip up a pair of police sketches. You want to shock me, try getting good performances out of them.

Speaking of the performances, it's obvious that LaRocca keeps getting work primarily because she's willing to get naked at the drop of a hat, and Moonshine keeps getting work because she's willing to allow her husband to, well, you know. God knows neither of them is capable of much else. LaRocca's acting technique consists of sneering and bugging out her eyes, while Moonshine is only adept at conveying lethargy. To make matters worse, Moonshine—who resembles a very poor man's Jane Marsh—has an accent so thick you couldn't cut it with a chainsaw. To make matters ever worse, she has huge beaver teeth. These two factors combine to make most of her dialogue unintelligible, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. The only worthwhile performance in the flick comes from Heroin Sheiks frontman Shannon Selberg, who actually appears to know just how bad the movie is and hams it up (guy almost makes a production number out of simply going to the bathroom), all the while doing his best to avoid looking directly into the camera.

On top of everything I've already mentioned, you also get someone being murdered with a scented candle (I guess this is another nod to Repulsion), vomiting, a soft-focus, Benny Hill-style climactic chase through the woods outside Karen and Christine's home (during which LaRocca's character manages to run three miles despite having been stabbed in the heart), dialogue regarding hickeys, dialogue regarding Chlamydia, far too much dialogue regarding semen, and some of the shoddiest camerawork you're ever likely to run across. I'm sure Roman is beaming with pride.

This movie was shot on digital video, and the full frame transfer exhibits decent colors and detail, but it is also rife with stair-stepping and moiré patterns; nearly every single shot contains at least one of these flaws. There's also some serious bleeding in the final scene. The audio is even worse. Dialogue is buried in the mix, and the music—which sounds as if it were performed on the oldest pipe organ in the world—wavers between blaring and screeching. Extras include the aforementioned production insert, trailers for both The Devil's Bloody Playthings and director Hellfire's Orgasm Torture in Satan's Rape Clinic (a few minutes of which have been awkwardly inserted into this movie), and 12 minutes of bloopers, which I guess goes to show that they did actually film more than one take of any given scene.

Closing Statement

Bloody hell.

The Verdict

Take a wild guess.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 60
Audio: 40
Extras: 15
Acting: 30
Story: 30
Judgment: 35

Perp Profile

Studio: Alternative Cinema
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Bad
• Erotic
• Exploitation
• Independent
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Bloopers
• Trailers
• Production Insert


• Official Site

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