The Curator of Schlock #325 by Jeff Shuster

The Evil

This is a bad place. 

I decided to go snooping around the mansion, see if there are any old family treasures that won’t be missed. I plan on adding a roller rink to the Museum of Schlock when I get back and those don’t come cheap. Jervis’s deceased master must have been really into Porcelain dolls. I’ve found three rooms filled with the damn things, but I’ll be posting them on Ebay soon enough. Funny thing is I could swear the damn things move around once my back is turned. Must be my imagination.


Tonight’s movie is 1978’s The Evil from director Gus Trikonis. It’s about a spooky old mansion that has a reputation for being haunted. A Civil War general named Emilio Vargas built the mansion over sulfur pits in a place the natives referred to as “Valley of the Devils.” Of course, there’s no such thing as ghosts. So thinks Sam, the caretaker, as investigates a noise he hears coming from the basement. He opens up an old furnace to see nothing out of the ordinary just before the furnace spews out a torrent of flames and turns Sam into a great ball of fire.


Later that afternoon, C.J. Arnold (Richard Crenna), a psychiatrist wanting to turn the property into a drug rehab center, arrives with his wife, Caroline (Joanna Pettet), a doctor who is sensitive to the supernatural. Later on, he’s joined by Raymond (Andrew Prine), a college professor, and Laurie (Marie Louise Weller), his TA/girlfriend. Other helpers/future victims include Felicia (Lynne Moody), Marie (Cassie Yates), Pete (George O”Hanlon Jr.), and Dwight (George Viharo). Oh, and there’s a dog too, but his name escapes me. For the sake of the review, we’ll call him Precious.


So Precious decides to furiously dig a hole down in the basement, like he’s after a tasty bone. That bone turns out to be a sacred cross locking a latch to a trap door. C.J. discovers the trap door soon after and yanks at that cross until it comes loose. As soon as he does this, the whole house shakes, the doors and windows lock shut, and poor Dwight is electrocuted to death when he accidentally grabs hold of a stray electrical cord. Felicia is, naturally, taunted by a strange spirit that tears her clothes off and tosses her about.

Raymond and C.J. try using a buzzsaw to cut through the front door, but it might as well be made of solid steel. C.J. goes up to the second floor to see if they can climb down with a cord tied to the railing. Pete insists on going first and is promptly struck by lightning before combusting into flames and falling to the ground, Each of them gets picked off one by one by the evil fotrce. Raymond seems to purposely saw into his own hand, but manages to get outside through one of the windows. Then Raymond is swallowed up by the earth right as he’s proclaiming freedom.


Eventually, C.J. and his wife communicate with the ghost of Emilio Vargas (which side did he fight on, I wonder) and decide to check out the basement and go through the trap door. They need to find the scared cross in order to seal the evil underneath the house and wouldn’t you know it, the evil is the Devil himself (Victor Buono). He’s been taunting C.J. and his friends just for kicks. Funny how the Devil wears a white suit and speaks with an English accent. Will C.J. and his wife find the cross and seal the Devil in or will the Devil escape and torment the world by creating the five dollar footlong? You’ll have to check it out for yourself.

Jeffrey Shuster 3

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.