The Horrible House on the Hill aka Devil Times Five aka Peopletoys (1974)

directed by sean macgregor
barrister productions incorporated

When setting out to watch this ’70s obscurity, I had no idea the sort of sleazefest I’d be enjoying. In one especially enlightening sequence, a bored and oversexed housewife emulates Of Mice and Men with the mentally challenged handyman, after which she is confronted by her daughter-in-law – the current paramour of an ex-conquest – and a breasts-exposing catfight ensues. The daughter-in-law subsequently goes to bed with the disputed boyfriend. Meanwhile, the other adult female on the premises is drinking heavily and badgering her shlump of a husband, played by Sorrell Booke. As this is happening, five deranged children who have survived a bus accident break into the secluded lodge-style home in which all of the above are weekending, and beat to death their pursuant erstwhile handler – in slow motion. This movie becomes quite unsettling as it unspools … but its creepiest component lies behind the scenes. Mid-seventies flash in the pan Leif Garrett plays one of the murderous kids (“Charlie”), as does his younger sister Dawn Lyn (“Moe”), and their mother (Carolyn Stellar) plays the sexpot, “Lovely,” who eventually is killed off, topless in the bath, by Moe. Hollywood family values – now that’s chilling.

why did i watch this movie?

With its focus on preteen sociopaths, it sounded pretty intriguing, and the multiplicity of names helped. (It’s also known as Tantrum/s.)

should you watch this movie?

Hey, it’s freely available courtesy of the Internet Archive.

highlight and low point

Before it hits its stride, Peopletoys seems as though it’s going to be as regrettable as that moniker, but once the obviously strange children are introduced to the mix, it gets a lot better. The killings are not very convincing and the blood is extremely fake, but the level of invention is pretty good. The kids seem strangely impervious to cold, though.

rating from outer space: B

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