Legends of Horror: The Demon

October 31, 2015 at 4:37 pm Leave a comment

I guess the “legend” of horror in this movie is Cameron Mitchell. If you are like me, and I know I am, you would remember him as Captain Santa Claus from Space Mutiny.  He was in well over a hundred movies in his career, many of them b-horror movies, as I guess that qualifies as being a legend.

The Demon is a South African slasher film that attempts to capitalize on the popularity of Halloween, made a year earlier. Cameron Mitchell’s character is a marine turned psychic detective, hired by a family to find their missing daughter, who was kidnapped in the film’s opening scene. He offers very little help, just wandering around their house picking up “vibes” because it’s the 70’s. Meanwhile, Mary and Jo are teachers in the Big City. We are never told where they are, only that they live in the Big City. I get the feeling they want you to believe this is America. They share an apartment and get stalked by The Demon, who just looks like a regular guy. He is kept in shadow for much of the movie either because they couldn’t afford lights and permits to film outside at night or to build mystery around the main villain, which is completely blown when they show his face midway through the movie. Cameron Mitchell is meant to be the Doctor Loomis of this movie, except that he is not at all proactive in trying to fight The Demon. He gets some premonitions now and then but doesn’t act on them. The family gets fed up with this and the Father heads to the city to track down The Demon. He gets killed rather quickly. The daughter is finally found as a skeleton in a tree wearing a blonde wig. I think that was a production mistake, not the demon putting a blonde wig on his victims. The Mother gets fed up with Cameron Mitchell and delivers a scene that is the only genuine surprise of this movie. She says “Did your ESP prepare you for this?” then shoots him. Apparently, he wasn’t really psychic after all. That or he was a lousy psychic.

Then, it is time to wrap up the movie. The second half is full of every slasher movie trope you could imagine. It’s really not filmed well and the only lighting is whatever ambient light happened to be on the set at the time. After one kill, The Demon stands outside a theater that is playing The Amityville Horror. No comment needed for that. A few people get killed along the way and it end with Mary getting chased around while topless. She covers up in a shower curtain and kills The Demon in a way that would make Wily Coyote proud. The ending is such a confusing mess of bad editing, continuity errors, and mass confusion that it defies explanation.

Entire books were written on the production problem with Jamaica Inn. I am more curious about the production problems with this movie. I doubt anyone is left alive to tell the tale but it really feels like two different movies that were pasted together when funding fell through for the first one. The entire Cameron Mitchell subplot didn’t need to be in the movie. In fact, if you follow the story, nothing needed to be in this movie. Everything about the family and Cameron Mitchell finding their daughter is done away with quickly when everyone but the mother is killed. They spent all of that time building towards nothing. You can kill off the Dr. Loomis equivalent in your Halloween rip off but he has to be killed by your Michael Myers equivalent. The way it is done in this movie really feels like either they ran out of money, Cameron Mitchell didn’t want to be in the movie any more, or they completely changed their minds on what they wanted the film to be. The ending is such a complete mess, production wise, you really have to believe they slapped it together just so they would have a complete film that could be released and hopefully pay back the investors.

The Demon is complete garbage. It’s only value would be as a lesson to film student. I would love to hear your theories as to what when wrong with this movie. Take note of the various types of production miscues and ask yourself what you would do differently to prevent something like The Demon from happening to you and torpedoing your career. Oh, and keep your eyes open for a disco named Boobs. Only in the 70’s.

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Entry filed under: Horror. Tags: , , , , , .

Legends of Horror: Jamaica Inn Legends of Horror: The Ghost

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