top of page

TV Terror Guide: Devil Dog The Hound of Hell (1978)


In the vein of not judging a book by its cover, Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978) isn’t nearly as ridiculous as it sounds. If demons can possess living beings, why not dogs? What better way to spread evil into the world than through a litter of pups that can each find a nice, loving home to destroy from the inside out?

.

When the too-perfect Barry family loses their beloved pet on daughter Bonnie’s (Kim Richards) birthday, they’re perhaps a little too eager to adopt a new one when it conveniently rolls through the neighborhood in the back of a suspicious-looking man's truck (R.G. Armstrong) selling produce. Bonnie is reluctant at first, but when R.G. tells her, “Hold him, he ain’t gonna eat you up,” all it takes is her brother, Charlie (Ike Eisenmann) telling her it’s OK that they keep him.

.

Parents Mike (Richard Crenna) and Betty (Yvette Mimieux) don’t seem to mind that the kids didn’t ask their permission because, well, it’s such a cute puppy and their sad daughter is now happy. Soon, though, the children are laughing behind their backs and Betty stops doing her charity work at the veteran’s hospital because she has better things to do… such as pour herself a mid-afternoon drink.

.

“Lucky,” or the people who placed him, don’t seem to have much of a plan except for killing the people who suspect something is wrong with him. It’s briefly mentioned by the owner of an occult bookstore (Gertrude Flynn) that Mike has something inside that makes him successful in blocking Lucky’s glowing eyes from forcing him to put his hand into a spinning lawnmower blade.

.

Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell then takes a turn from The Omen and Mike is off to Ecuador to sit and stare at a stone carving of the demon “Bargas” on the side of a mountain. After all the effort, he learns that you can’t destroy Bargas, but you can imprison it in Hell for 1,000 years by pointing a holy symbol at it. We’re not talking anything fancy; it can be something painted on your palm that lasts until you get home on that long flight from Ecuador.

.

I make fun, but it is fun. At times, it’s even chilling. I don’t care who or what is controlling your mind to force you to put your hand into a spinning lawnmower blade, that’s some real suspense! It may be my favorite TV movie directed by Curtis Harrington, who uses a dolly shot to show Betty run into her bedroom, Lucky chasing her, then the door shutting as the camera zooms in on a little bell hanging on the door ringing.

.

Plus, any film that begins with Martine Beswick shopping for a “special” dog (a female that is intelligent, healthy, and ready to breed), then conducts a ritual with the poor thing tied in the middle of a pentagram on the floor, is all right by me. We don’t see her again, but she’s who I imagine pulling the strings as an adorable puppy causes the housekeeper (Tina Menard) to set herself on fire when praying the rosary.

..

There’s a missed opportunity, though. When Doctor Norm (Jerry Fogel) recommends a vacation for Mike and prescribes a tranquilizer, I was incorrect in predicting he was part of the conspiracy. On the other hand, Harrington seizes the opportunity to strap a feather boa around Lucky’s neck and use crude special effects to make his ears look like horns as he faces Mike during the climax. How can all of this not be fun?

Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell as well as all the great movies from this series.

8 views0 comments
bottom of page