VCI Home Video // 1979 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Ike Oden (Retired) // December 10th, 2010
Uncut WIDESCREAM version!
After the murder of their daughter, two South African parents employ an ESP-gifted former Marine (Cameron Mitchell, Blood and Black Lace) to solve the case. His visions follow the girl's razor gloved killer to Johannesburg, where serial killer stalks a pair of nursery school teachers (Jennifer Holmes, Newhart; Zoli Marki, Night of the Puppets).
I'm an ardent fan of the slasher genre because of its simple formula. If a filmmaker is clever enough, he or she can tell can tell any kind of story within its confines. Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof or James Cameron's The Terminator are perfect examples of body count films at their most innovatively zonked. Screening this disc, I wasn't expecting anything as mind blowing as said films, but hoped for something at least entertaining. What I got instead was a piecemeal slasher snoozefest.
The Demon wrestles to put a unique spin on John Carpenter's Halloween, but gets bogged down with too many stories spreading themselves out in all directions. The Demon fails to grasp any kind of mainline narrative, making for an overcomplicated plot that never quite makes sense. ESP-subplots, school teacher stalkings, prolonged romantic interludes, and serial killer metaphysics are explored to absolute dead ends. There isn't an identifiable protagonist in sight, nor is there a likeable character or an interesting villain. Even the deaths are underwhelming plastic bag suffocations, and claw slashing scenes are marred by cinematography so dark you can't tell what's going on.
So what does the film have going for it? Nothing worth getting excited about. A laughably generic synth score, copious nudity (our Final Girl is topless throughout her final chase scene for some inexplicable reason), and Cameron Mitchell's brief, Shatner-esque performance are amusing enough, but hardly a deal breaker for a horror movie as boring and confusing as this one. Horror fans, look elsewhere for your lurid thrills. I can wholeheartedly recommend any other post-Halloween slasher film over The Demon.
VCI gives the release way better than it deserves. The newly remastered transfer is surely the first and last word in The Demon on DVD. It's a film that has been given the public domain treatment a thousand times over by dozens of dime store DVD companies, but VCI does it right here. The print is a little fuzzy at times, but generally clean and well detailed. It's the best Cameron Mitchell's sweaty forehead has looked, anyway. The stereo mix is wrought with pops and crackles, but fits this sort of movie just fine.
No extras are included. I can't say I'm sorry about this.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: VCI Home Video
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Rated R