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Case Number 19862: Small Claims Court

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Demonic / Uninvited (Blu-Ray)

Uninvited
1993 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Demonic
2005 // 80 Minutes // Rated R
Released by Mill Creek Entertainment
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // October 8th, 2010

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Tom Becker's been uninvited to better demonic parties than this.

The Charge

Murderous wood nymphs and cowboys! Is there a parade coming through?

The Case

Mill Creek usually turns out sets of second or third tier TV shows (Booker: Collector's Edition), TV compilations (Game Show Moments Gone Bananas), and movie compilations that look like they've been dredged from the public domain vaults (Cult Terror Cinema: 12-Movie Collection, Drive-In Cult Classics: 32-Movie Collection). In a slight change of pace, Mill Creek is offering up a pair of relatively recent ho-hum horror films in glorious Blu-ray.

Unfortunately, the two films offered here, Demonic and Uninvited, barely warrant a home video release at all, much less a release on the much-ballyhooed Blu format.

Only the brave would dare to awaken the guardian of the dead!
Character actor Jack Elam (Rio Lobo) gets top billing in Uninvited. It makes you wonder why Bette Davis didn't get top billing in Midnight Cowboy, since her clips from Dark Victory had as much screen time in that film as Elam does in this one. He plays an old cowboy who spends the credit sequence leading a group to a mountain where they'll be looking for gold. Elam disappears (along with the credits) and the straggly group of men and women head for the hills, where they find a few bodies, fight over gold, reminisce about the Donner Party (one of them was there), and battle some undefined demons. It's neither spooky nor scary, just dull and confusing. To complicate things—and drag out the running time—the characters' personal dramas end up taking center stage. Since there's not a likable one in the bunch, we're subjected to endless and boring bickering while we wait for something—anything—horror-worthy to happen. It's a long and lonely wait, and the rewards are few.

In the blink of an eye, the madness begins!
They're Earth angels, these naked hotties. They prowl the woods au naturel, seducing any unsuspecting travelers they encounter. Once they've reeled 'em in, they reveal their true faces: bad orthodontia and crazy eyes. They're not really sweet little nymphets, they're Demonic! According to legend, they're angels who were kicked out of heaven for being too carnally knowledgeable, and now they walk the Earth—well, the woods—looking for fresh meat. Conveniently, this forest seems to be a stopping-off place for lost travelers, such as the vanload of teens who are the focus of our story. Also hanging out in the woods: a crazy guy who seems to be their gatekeeper, or something.

Each of these films is a confused mess, and only one comes close to delivering anything resembling satisfying horror. The lesser film is Uninvited, which is just a weird yet tedious western romp with a few killings and some mumbo-jumbo involving a Native American curse, or something. It's really just a bunch of annoying characters fighting about gold nuggets and occasionally dying in mysterious and sometimes graphic ways. If you make it to the end of this Bonanza meets One Step Beyond oat-meller—and I can't imagine why you'd bother—you'll find the sort of "ambiguous" wrap-up that usually means the writer didn't know what the hell was going on either.

Marginally better is Demonic (a.k.a. Forest of the Damned), which features a slightly more cohesive story, lots of nekkid ex-angel nymphs, and some good gore effects from the great Tom Savini. Unfortunately, Savini also shows his not-so-great side by taking a role here, a real "keep your day job" performance as the gatekeeper, crazed woods-dwelling guy. All wild-eyed lunacy, it's never really clear how the American Savini wound up in this British forest or exactly what his character's purpose is, and his screen time really bogs this down, as do the various other character-directed subplots. Like Uninvited, there's no clear through-line here, and while Demonic does offer up a reasonable amount of grue and some suspense, it just never really comes together.

Neither of these is an all-out terrible movie, and in a way that's a shame, because they're also not bad enough to be guilty pleasures. Oh, they're still bad, just not good bad. Save for the R-rated scenes of occasional nudity and violence, these are pretty much made-for-basic-cable offerings.

Mill Creek puts the DVD back in Blu-ray with this marginal release. Neither film looks good on Blu, with the same sort of damage and softness you'd find on a standard release. Audio for both films is an old-time Dolby stereo mix. Supplements? You want supplements? Move along, Cowboy, 'cause you ain't gonna find 'em here.

The Verdict

Two uninspired, half-baked fright flicks and a lousy Blu-ray package.

Guilty.

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Genres

• Bad
• Blu-ray
• Horror
• Independent
• Western

Scales of Justice, Uninvited

Judgment: 50

Perp Profile, Uninvited

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Uninvited

• None

Scales of Justice, Demonic

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile, Demonic

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Demonic

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb: Uninvited
• IMDb: Demonic








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