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21.2.09

The Devil's Partner (1962)




Director: Charles R. Rondeau
Starring: Ed Nelson, Jean Allison, Richard Crane, Spencer Carlisle, Byron Foulger, Edgar Buchanan
Not Rated Running time: 73 minutes
Public Domain



While the original movie poster suggests otherwise, you're not going to see a half-naked woman riding a centaur in The Devil's Partner. It's a little disappointing, I know. False promises of early-60's cheesecake aside, The Devil's Partner features enough goat killings, animal attacks, and devil worship to provide a few lurid thrills, and is played well enough to make for decent Saturday morning entertainment.

A hairy, decrepit old hermit performs a weird Satanic ritual in his rural shack. Well, it's sorta Satanic - he uses a hexagon rather than the much more popular Star of Baphomet that's so damned popular with the kids these days. It's evil enough, however, that an innocent goat gets its throat cut so that this hirsute bum can appease the Dark One. We jump forward in time to meet a handsome stranger, who has arrived in the desert town of Furnace Flats, New Mexico. He says his name is Nick Richards (Ed Nelson) and he has come to town to see to his dead uncle. Who is his uncle? Why it's the evil hermit from the prologue, Pete Jensen (Nelson again). The locals, especially the Sheriff (Spencer Carlisle) and the town's doctor (Edgar Buchanan), are a little bothered by the young man's appearance. Old Pete was getting weirder and weirder in his last few months, and his death was a little suspicious, to say the least. Their initial suspicions are put to rest when they realize what a charming son-of-a-gun this Nick fella is. Everybody seems to like the guy, especially the Doc's pretty daughter, Nell (Jean Allison), and her fiancee, David (Richard Crane). David even goes as far as to give the newly-arrived Nick a job at his service station. I told you he was charming.

We quickly see just why this Nick character is so smooth - he is actually Pete Jensen! It seems that the old hermit sold his soul in exchange for youthful good looks and the power to charm the pants off anyone he encounters. Now he is back in town and ready to take whatever he wants - mainly Nell. He employs Papers (Byron Foulger), the town drunk, to do his dirty work by bribing him with cash and cheap booze. What Papers can't accomplish, Nick does himself, using his evil powers of persuasion and his remarkable ability to transform himself into horses and snakes. But the Sheriff doesn't like all of the strange things that begin happening after Nick's arrival. He notices that despite the blazing heat in Furnace Flats, Nick never sweats. Never. Nick also seems to know the details of several mysterious deaths in the area, information that was available only to the Sheriff and his pal Doc. The Sheriff begins to suspect black magic, and sets a trap to catch the evil Nick, and save the town from his devilish powers.

Alright, it's a dumb story, full of plot holes and less-than-believable situations. But some of these early 60's shockers have a good natured vibe that makes you overlook the flaws and just go along for the ride. The Devil's Partner is one of them. Director Charles R. Rondeau was a TV vet (Adam-12, One Step Beyond, The Partridge Family, etc.) and most of the cast were well traveled small screen players, so its not surprising that the movie plays like an extended length episode of The Twilight Zone. The acting is pretty good, and Rondeau does a fine job a capturing the hot, dusty atmosphere of Furnace Flats.

What can I say? If you are not a fan of old horror flicks, there is nothing I can write about The Devil's Partner that is going to change your mind. If you are, then you should check it out.

Someone is killed by a cow. I swear.

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