Play Dead

August 13, 2013 at 1:11 am (5 Heads, Play Dead) (, , , , )

Play Dead – 1981 – United States

After being jilted in a love triangle, a sorceress wields black magic to control a nice female Rottweiler to commit murders. Rather than merely mauling people, the dog kills with hilarious shrewdness. Leaping from a parked car, the dog startles a pedestrian into oncoming traffic. Tossing a curling iron in the tub, the dog electrocutes a bather. Mixing drain cleaner with Alka-Seltzer, the dog poisons a pesky police detective. After driving the last victim insane with grief, the dog’s campaign of terror finally ends when she turns on the sorceress and mangles her.

Play Dead is unpretentious and unexceptional horror fare, but the writing and acting have a spontaneous and natural quality that is subtly engrossing. Yvonne De Carlo (Lily from The Munsters) displays cruelty, cunning, and charm as the sorceress, but the dog steals the show. Looking dumb and friendly, she performs atrocities with happy enthusiasm. The dog is probably supposed to seem menacing as she spies on her next targets in a steamy love scene. Instead she grins and licks her chops to amusing effect.

Produced in 1981 and not released until 1986, Play Dead is about what you would expect from Troma’s catalog. It is trashy and ridiculous, but odd and energetic enough to entertain.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. From the theatrical trailer: “A game of death played in blood.”

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