Rev. Warlock DRACONIS BLACKTHORNE (dblackthorne) wrote,

Poor Devil

Poor Devil
VIII A.S. Directed by Robert Sheerer. Starring Sammy Davis Jr. {Sammy}, Christopher Lee {Lucifer}, Jack Klugman {Burnett J. Emerson}, Adam West {Jannes Crawford}, Gino Conforti {Bligh}. Genre: Comedy.

Sammy just wants to make it out of the furnace pit and prove himself worthy of his horns, so when his sexy girlfriend secretary notifies him that a soul up above that he's had his eye on is about to falter, he requests to Mr. Lucifer {Christopher Lee, looking like a grown-up Damien Thorn} that he be allowed to ascend for an opportunity, permission is granted, despite the objections of Bligh.

Prospects are further improved when "Burnie" mentions selling his soul, and off Sammy goes to seal the deal. , first for money, then revenge. Money for a better life for he and his wife; Vengeance to justifiably balance the scales in Bernie's favor, considering the conniving Crawford {Adam West} not only kept him out of his due position, but attempted to covet his pretty little wife as well.

"Hell has no better prospect than a good man scorned." - Lucifer.

Sammy must now do Bernie's bidding for seven years; by consulting with various historic villains such as Blackbeard, Bonnie & Clyde, Al Capone & his mugs, with the insight of his lovely girlfriend, they hatch a plan, and thus is bestowed the task of cleaning out the entire department store with the aid of damned souls on roller skates, transporting merchandise to a hell-icopter, then on to Alcatraz island. But before this exquisite revenge can be exacted, Bernie changes his mind, and everything must be returned to the shelves, but unbeknownst to them, the damage had already been done, as an hysterical Crawford loses his mind when he witnesses the cleaned out edifice. Returning with the Police, all is in its proper place, and is taken away.

At one point, when Bernie really feels the need to contact Sammy, he flips through the phone book stating,

“I’ll call the Church of Satan downtown. They’ll know how to contact him.”

At the time, The Church of Satan at 6114 California Street in San Francisco was listed as a religious entity in the phone book, complete with contact phone number and Baphomet printed therein.

In the end, a breach releases Bernie from the contract, but for a very noble cause, it seems. After seven years, he would have had to return with Sammy to Hell, leaving his wife behind. A sympathetic Sammy assents and is finally returned to the furnace, where he has to shovel the brimstone for the next 700 years. Ergo, "Poor Devil".

Although the plot is quite amusing, and Sammy's performances are always a treat, what is of pertinence are the aesthetics of the film, and the fact that The Church of Satan was mentioned on such a widespread nationally-syndicated broadcast, even though we stand on our own perfectly well.

This made-for-broadcast production was originally intended as a pilot episode to launch a series by the same name, but it seems that repeated protests by fundies preserved the film by itself. At the time, upon the advent of The Age of Fire, the film industry was fertile with movies such as Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Devil's Daughter {starring Shelley Winters & Jonathan Frid}, and The Omen a couple of years later. Television productions recently included the likes of The Addams Family, Bewitched, Dark Shadows, The Munsters, Night Gallery {Rod Serling; The Twilight Zone}, while even the erotic film industry released many little devil flicks {see Satanic Sickies}, so it seemed the time was ripe to bite into such forbidden fruit. Perhaps the time is nigh.

Remarkable aesthetics fill the film with all those in attendance in Hades wearing stylized pentagram medallions {primarily donned in red suits & turtlenecks; with the women in sexy uniforms befitting tempting she-devils}, and Lucifer's office emblazoned with a huge sigil looming at his personal desk, while hellfires flicker about the windows. Sammy gesticulates The Cornu when dematerializing from place to place.

Because of this presentation as well as his personal carnal pursuits and occult interests, Davis was granted an honorary Warlock degree by Magus LaVey during a performance at The Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, CA.*, where Sammy wore the Baphomet pendant for the remainder of the show.

* Which, besides the appealing name, for those "in the gnosis", also happened to have a trapezoidal roof; it all seemed infernal providence.

I first became acquainted with this film via a late-night broadcast, which itself seemed providential, and has remained memorable ever since.

Tags: addams family, anton szandor lavey, baphomet, bewitched, blackthorne theater, church of satan, comedy, dark shadows, evocation, film, history, infernal empire, munsters, omen, spechtreum, video

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