18 June 2024

Charlie Boy (1980)
50 min.
Airdate: October 18, 1980
Directed by Robert Young.
With Leigh Lawson, Angela Bruce, Marius Goring, Frances Cuker, Michael Culver, and Michael Deeks.
Jose Cruz
This voodoo ditty is a pretty ho-hum affair for the most part before drumming up some nice suspense at the end.

After his uncle meets an untimely death, Graham (Lawson) comes into possession of an African fetish doll that his girlfriend Sarah (Bruce) dubs “Charlie Boy.” The little fanged warrior supposedly has magical properties, namely as a tool of vengeance that the doll’s handler can mutilate with a specific target in mind.

But that’s all superstition. The fact that the people in a photograph Graham was looking at while he stabbed the doll in a drunken rage are now strangely dying is only a coincidence. Like his brother’s impalement during a horse riding incident. Or a business partner’s freak demise by crossbow. But perhaps…

So when he and Sarah are the only ones left in the photo, Graham races against time to destroy the doll before it finishes its hit list.

Charlie Boy is fairly ordinary stuff, though it does manage to put some energy into its death sequences.

Handsome Lawson turns in a nice performance as the troubled Graham, playing charming, wrathful, and tragic all very successfully. It’s his battle (with himself as much as Charlie Boy) that keeps us involved, and the inevitable end to his journey is a true downer.

Still, there’s not too much else to distinguish it. The fact that Charlie Boy is mainly a conduit of ill luck as opposed to being an animated threat in of itself (say, like his Zuni cousin from Trilogy of Terror) reveals a fault inherent in this type of yarn: we are essentially left to wait for something to happen. There is no tension; we know everyone is going to die and they do.

A good workmanlike effort regardless.

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