Spoiler Alert: “The Devil’s Gift” is terrible regardless of the version.
But first, on a semi-related note…
It’s my BIRTHDAY!!!!
I’ll give you all the pertinents:
- I’m thirty-five.
- I’m aware I don’t look it.
- This post is relevant to birthdays.
All of that said…
The Devil’s Gift…Is A Hell Of A Birthday Present!
Let’s face it, we all get that one gift we don’t like. We suck it up and thank the giver for their efforts…then focus our time and undivided attention on something else. I’ve never had that experience (honest!), as rumor has it I’m easy to shop for.
Someone needs to tell the kid in this movie that he should have played with his other birthday gifts. Because this movie would have been over faster!
The Devil’s Gift is a 1984 feature film directed by Kenneth J. Berton, he of the stinker Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders, which is only watchable with riffing and Ernest Borgnine.
For me, that’s probably because my Uncle Sam looked just like him. This is actually Borgnine, not my Uncle Sam.
The Devil’s Gift is infamously known in its heavily-edited, child-friendly form (as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000), and until recently, this was the only version I knew about. I figured, “oh, it’s a short film and it was needed to pad out the runtime of this longer film.” It was version I saw as a sixteen-year-old MSTie in 1999, and several times years later.
…and the DVD cover that makes me scream B.S.!
The Devil’s Gift is an actual living, breathing representation of what a truly terrible movie one can make (that doesn’t involve Tommy Wiseau), and how it can absolutely feel disjointed even without heavy editing. Again, not involving Tommy Wiseau.
The original version is darker and more “violent,” but just as cheap, ugly, poorly-plotted and clunky as the version seen on MST3K.
Again, I’m absolutely certain Tommy Wiseau’s name does not appear anywhere in the credits.
Oh, the “Plot…”
Michael Andrews receives a cymbal-banging monkey as a birthday present, purchased by his father David’s girlfriend, Susan. The toy monkey was found among the ruins of a burned-down house, untouched by the damage surrounding it, and brought to an antiques shop, where Susan later decides this monkey is a Great Gift Idea.
And that’s where the fun begins!
Each time the monkey bangs his cymbals of his own accord (the first clue this “toy” could not possibly be safe to play with), something happens. And by “something,” I mean death. Houseplants, the family dog, a housefly. And if it isn’t death, it is near-misses involving Michael: a near hit-and-run, attempting smothering, and attempted drowning. The monkey wants this kid dead, and two out of three times, it wants Susan to be the killer. The other time, it wants a car to kill him.
This is a terrible, horrible, ugly, schlock-filled, low-rent film that tries to be horror/thriller, and comes up comedy/Not Thriller. And the ending…let’s just say Merlin doesn’t arrive to retrieve his monkey.
The plot of the film is similar to Stephen King’s short story The Monkey, which is obviously an insult to King’s genius, since this movie is far from the caliber of Stephen King’s genius (it is alleged that the movie is plagiarized from that story). I’ve used “clunky,” “ugly,” “cheap,” and “poorly-plotted” to describe this movie, all of which is accurate. The acting is ugly, the people are ugly, the general look of the film is ugly, and I swear that 1970s couch every grandparent had is prominent in this house. I recall laughing at the riff “Hello, 1970s house” hysterically as a teenager, acting like I totally got why it was so funny. As an adult, I get the joke…this is a 1970s house. This is 1976 trying to masquerade as 1984.
The runner up for laughs? This scene with riffing…
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If the guys from RiffTrax ever get their hands on it, I will be proudly claim firsties forking over the cost to see it in the theater. I have no shame.
The Devil’s Gift
Behold, the gift you don’t want, in its original form, complete with home video logos and trailers at the end.
For me, the real “gift” is that it is the 1985 Vestron Video print, complete with that screeching logo.
Anyway, celebrate my birthday with me over a movie about a possessed toy, and that toy’s determination to kill. It’s a helluva gift that you might just say the devil had something to do with…
Admit it, you giggled a little.
Anyway, here’s the ugly truth of a film…
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But, if you prefer the equally awkward, heavily edited, family-friendly B-story of a Z-grade film, then by all means, watch the original, if only for Ernest Borgnine.
Come for the laughs, stay for the Borgnine!
She can be found at allisonveneziowrites.com.You can follow her blog on Facebook (facebook.com/allisonswrittenwords), Instagram @allisonswrittenwords, and on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
(Her fiancee is supportive of the whole Chris Hemsworth and Kenny Loggins love thing.)
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