Classic Cinema #36: The Devil’s Messenger (1961) – By Jason S. Lockard

This being Halloween one of my favorite months of the year, I decided to share a film I recently uncovered! A little known Swedish film called The Devil’s Messenger featuring one of the most recognizable horror stars of all time.. Lon Chaney Jr. Before we get ahead of ourselves looking at the film let’s take a brief look at the life and career of The great Lon Chaney Jr.

Lon Chaney, Jr. was born Creighton Tull Chaney on February 10th 1906 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma the son of silent film star Lon Chaney and Frances Cleveland Creighton Chaney a singing stage performer. His parents marriage ended a short 7 years after his birth after his mother’s attempted public suicide in Los Angeles. Creighton lived in various homes and boarding schools until 1916 when his father married Hazel Hastings and was acting steady in films and could provide a stable home life for his son!

Lon Sr. discouraged his son entering show business, and the young Creighton attended college and than saw success in a LA appliance corporation! After his father’s death Creighton began to follow in his father’s footsteps and began his career with an uncredited role in 1932’s Girl Crazy. In 1935 He went from acting as Creighton Tully Chaney to Lon Chaney Jr. than later just Lon Chaney!

Lon Chaney first achieved stardom and critical acclaim in the 1939 Of Mice and Men, in which he played Lennie Small. Than two years later he would star as Larry Talbot in 1941’s The Wolfman, he would be typecast for the rest of his career! But according to Robert Stack’s biography Chaney and Brodrick Crawford were “the monsters” on the Universal Lot because of their drunken behavior resulting in bloodshed.

Than in 1961 Chaney would star in a series of in a few episodes of the failed Swedish TV Series 13 Demon Street as The Devil! After the series flopped the producers decided to patch together the three episode with Chaney into a feature film thus our Film The Devil’s Messenger

In our Film Chaney plays The Devil; who sends Satanya to recruit new people to join him in Hell. Using 3 of the 7 deadly sins. Satanya played by Karen Kadler targets a scientist who discovers a woman frozen in ice, a sex-obsessed photographer and the man who drove her to commit suicide.

While the film seems is a bit slow at times and the acting is a bit cheesy, Lon Chaney’s performance is well worth the price of “admission“! And the ending is really cool! What is it?! Well, you’ll have to watch the film to find out!

While Lon Chaney never made a huge splash in serious films, to horror film fanatics his stands as one of the greats!

The Great Lon Chaney died on July 12, 1973, of heart failure in San Clemente, California. His body was donated for medical research. Finally in 1997 he was honored for his roles as the Wolf Man appearing on a US postage stamp depicting great movie monsters!

So until next month this is Jason Lockard reminding you if you want to see a good film, Check out a classic!

Moral Rating: Nothing Offensive
Audience: teens and adults
Genre: Horror
Length: 71 min.
Released: 1941
Our Rating: B-