There's an absence of gore and nudity, so blood- and pussy-hounds need not apply for this particular viewing.If not for Richard Crenna's terrific performance as the father of a household under siege by a Satan-possessed canine, the made-for-TV movie Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell would surely qualify as nothing more than a one-star travesty. Mind you, Crenna isn't given much to work with -- after his wife and two children are taken over by the mutt, he's required to display familiar bouts of befuddlement and righteousness in that his innate good soul is impenetrable to the title villain's inimical powers -- but he manages to infuse his character with gravitas and a solidity that keeps things on track even during the nth level of the palpably absurd. The way the story plays out, after a mysterious woman buys a five-thousand-dollar breeding dog she holds a devil ritual and gives away ten of its puppies, with one of them going to Crenna's young daughter, who's just lost her beloved dog in a car accident. After a year's time everyone but Crenna is enamored of the dog, which is knocking off those suspicious of it (the maid, the next-door neighbor and his dog, a school-guidance counselor). Nothing Shakespearean, I know, and the mediocre direction by Curtis Harrington does nothing except accentuate the dopiness of the material -- the blandness of the framing and staging only makes the flaws that much easier to spot, with nothing in the way of visual fancy to hide behind. And while the movie certainly wasn't afforded the biggest of budgets, surely there could have been better ways to present the devil dog in a more menacing a manner than having its eyes glow and its hair standing up on all ends when in ultimate-pissed mode (it looks like it's plugged into a ten-thousand-volt socket). Luckily, there's Crenna, with his appeal and grace, to add some plausibility to the implausible. Considering the high schlock factor of the proceedings, his accomplishment at not making so much as a single false move on the screen is something to definitely give a salute to -- and something for aspiring actors to learn from.Thankfully, no one's yet tried to remake this. Let's hope that kind of sensibility will continue to hold.