Friday, July 24, 2015

Demonwarp (1988)

... aka: Demon Warp
... aka: Endemoniados (Demonized)
... aka: O Demônio do Espaço (The Space Demon)
... aka: Transmutation

Directed by:
Emmett Alston

This began as a script called Demonwarp: The Ancients by John Carl Buechler. Buechler was one of the busiest make-up and special artists at the time who'd recently moved his way to up directing and writing features for Charles Band's Empire Productions. Home video distributor Vidmark, who'd decided to branch out and start making their own films, bought Buechler's script and put up much of the 225,000 dollar budget. Vidmark then put a deal together with ad agency owner / producer Richard L. Albert. Buechler was set to direct and do all of the make-up fx for the film and they even managed to snag Jack Palance for the lead role. After Buechler created several monsters for the film (only one of which was ultimately used) the production was put on hold. Buechler went on to direct the seventh installment of the Friday the 13th series instead and Palance also bailed because he decided he wanted to start doing more prestigious films (a wise move considering he'd win an Oscar just a few years later for City Slickers). When the production picked back up again, Albert then put two of his employees; Bruce Akiyama and Jim Bertges, in charge of re-writing the entire script. While they kept many of the basics of Buechler's original plot, so much was ultimately changed that Buechler only walked away with a story credit for the film.

With Palance out, the production needed another big name to headline the picture and managed to rope in George Kennedy, who agreed to “star” only if his salary demands (15,000 dollars for three days of shooting) were met and they also found a role for his aspiring actress daughter. Done and done. Bruce Barlow was then hired to take care of the rest of the special makeup effects and Emmett Alston, who'd previously made the awful slasher flick New Year's Evil (1981), was then drafted to direct. The rest is history. The film was shot in less than two weeks in the summer of 1987. (Note: I am indebted to Keith Bailey at The Unknown Movies and Bertges, who wore many hats other than just writer on this production, including dubbing some of the monsters, helping to build a set and doing the typeset for the credits, for much of the above information. To read a very thorough piece on the film head RIGHT HERE.)

A century ago, a large, meteor-like object fell from the sky into the California wilderness. Odd things have been going down in Demonwood Forest ever since. With a name like Demonwood Forest, is it any wonder? Bill Crafton (Kennedy) and his daughter Julie (Jill Merin) are enjoying a game of Trivial Pursuit when suddenly a hairy Bigfoot-style monster crashes through the door, knocks him out, murders Julie and drags her body away. A few months later, five twenty-somethings go to the same rental cabin. Jack Bergman (David Michael O'Neill), whose missing Uncle Clem (Joe Praml) owns a good stretch of the woods, drags his girlfriend Carrie (Pamela Gilbert) along, as well as three of their oblivious friends; Cindy (Colleen McDermott), Fred (Hank Stratton) and wisecracking fifth wheel Tom (Billy Jacoby). Due to the rash of mysterious disappearances in the area plus Bigfoot sightings, Jack's decided to bring along firearms and high tech electronics (sound wave equipment, long range listening devices, motion detectors) in hopes of finding out just what's going on. Alas, he and the others don't even get a chance to unpack. They're attacked by the monster their first night there. 

Fred vanishes, Tom is killed when the monster snaps his neck (his body also disappears), their Blazer is ripped apart and many pieces of electronic equipment have been stolen. With their only mode of transportation now disabled, Jack, Carrie and Cindy are forced to arm themselves, venture out into the dangerous woods and head toward the nearest highway. They soon realize they not only have to worry about the monster itself, but also a bunch of bear traps and dynamite traps Bill (who's camping out in the area looking for revenge) has set up. Meanwhile, airheads Betsy (Michelle Bauer = yay!) and Tara (Shannon Kennedy, daughter of you-know-who) show up in the woods in their bikinis looking for a “plentiful patch of pleasure” (marijuana) Betsy had discovered earlier. When they arrive, the crop is already gone so they opt for some sunbathing instead. The creature swings by long enough to rip off Tara's head,  but Betsy escapes into the woods. Jack and company, Betsy and Bill all eventually meet up at Bill's camp where they barely have time to take a breather before Bigfoot attacks once again. When Jack comes to, everyone else is missing. He ventures off to some caves (the ever-popular Bronson Canyon) to discover what's going on.

Though this definitely has its issues, it's a highly entertaining little B flick all the same. It's reasonably well-made, the actors are tolerable and there are lots of enjoyable makeups (Buechler's very ugly Bigfoot design is particularly fun). Gore and T&A quotients are more than met for the direct-to-video market and things get wonderfully kooky in the final half hour. Just how kooky? Let's just say that all of the strange events are going down because of an evil alien; a being which comes complete with a steel claw for a hand and some snake-like appendage that injects victims with green goo that turns them into monsters. Working for it are a bunch of mindless, rubbery-looking zombies and a deranged, pale-faced priest (the amusing John Durbin) who thinks his master is “the archangel Azdreth” and cuts the hearts out of topless females. The Bigfoot creature is also tied in with the alien, whose ultimate goal is to rebuild its crashed spaceship.

Injected into the middle of the film is a lengthy scene of a photographer being pursued by the creature through the woods until it ensnares his arm in a trap and then disembowels him with a stick (!) This footage was all added to the film later when the desired 90-minute run time came up a bit short. The ending also had to be altered after filming when it was discovered what was shot at the time couldn't be used. This was originally supposed to end with several characters essentially walking off into the sunset but that's been replaced by a poorly-done and confusing nightmare-inside-of-a-nightmare-inside-of-a-nightmare scene. Jacoby, still fondly remembered by many as the horn dog younger brother in Just One of the Guys, does an undead Jack Nicholson impersonation (a bit out of place considering none of the other zombies talk) while Kennedy gets to spout a few campy one-liners like “Come on you woolly bastard!” It's not quite “Die, you miserable, ugly fuck!” but it'll do.

Demonwarp enjoyed wide video distribution (I found VHS boxes from all over the world) and did well enough there and on cable to prompt a few more in-house Vidmark titles, like the Irene Cara WIP vehicle Caged in Paradiso (1990) and Fred Olen Ray's comedy Mob Boss (1990). There is no legitimate DVD release as of this writing. The only widescreen copy I was able to locate is dubbed into Tamil and is missing nearly 15 minutes. All of the nudity and most of the gore has been removed from that version.



crow said...

Dude, I totally could see myself watching and probably enjoying this. Looks bonkers. George Kennedy, at this point, was taking parts for little to nothing. However, I couldn't possibly *not* see him in Just Before Dawn.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

This is totally worth watching. Amazing how many horror flicks Kennedy did in the 80s alone. I still need to see a lot of them.

spookyx3 said...

between this and the last update, i'm detecting a fondness for ms. bauer. (for me, it was always brinke -- the greatest.)

'80s b-movie fans will recognize DEMONWARP's cave scene as the main location used in PHANTOM EMPIRE (1987). bronson caverns was seen on-screen a lot, especially in the '50s.

> It's not quite “Die, you miserable, ugly fuck!” but it'll do.

ha! TERROR WITHIN, right? there was one line in DEMONWARP, jacoby's thing about "testicle-eating monsters". the way he said it.

crow said...

He stayed busy. He was also in a Corman film at the end of the 90s that really deserve him starring Andrew Stevens, The Terror Within.

crow said...

Oops, I meant to finish that by saying that in the case of such a film, like Terror he seems to make them better, just by his presence in them.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

spooky: Yep, that's from The Terror Within and yep, I'm a big Bauer fan, though I also love Brinke (and Linnea) since I grew up watching all of their movies on TV. However, I find Bauer's career to be the most interesting. Part of that has to do with how bizarre, cheap and hard to find many of her films are. She did so many obscure tapes which haven't been seen since the beginning of home video that it's nearly impossible to come up with a complete filmography for her. IMDb's listing doesn't even scratch the surface. Just recently, I added 5 movies to her filmography that weren't even on there. The fact she refuses to discuss a lot of what she did just adds to the mystique. But I'm a big fan of all three of the Scream Queens and own a lot of ALL of their movies.

crow: Yep, he's fun in Terror and most of the other films I've seen him in. I think his "low" point may be the mutant killer cat movie 'Uninvited,' but even that's a lot of fun.

spookyx3 said...

(george kennedy had a good sense of humor. i'm thinking MODERN ROMANCE.)

> I'm a big fan of all three of the Scream Queens and own a lot of ALL of their movies.

same. though with brinke, it goes beyond my enjoying her performances, and needing to see everything she's ever done, to being unable to take my eyes off her whenever she's on screen -- a real clara bow type magnetism. means i tend to possibly overrate some of the films in which she's reasonably front and center, like NIGHTMARE SISTERS, HAUNTING FEAR or SPIRITS. i _can_ say, without irony or shame that TEENAGE EXORCIST is one of my favorite films of its year.

still not all that enthusiastic about watching a lot of her post-2000 jobs, but it has to be done!

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I've liked some of her post-2000 stuff but most of it is (unfortunately) junk that squanders her talents and is made by people who give her cameo roles and then flip around and try to promote her as the star.

Delta Delta Die was a decent exception to that. I think it's one of the best B movies of the 2000s and one of the few that managed to recapture the spirit of what made the 80s stuff so much fun. She also has fun smaller roles in some others like Bleed and Terror Toons 2. And often she gives a good performance (see: Corpses Are Forever, The Frightening) but the movie itself is terrible. I'll still watch anything she's in though and same goes for Linnea and Michelle.

Based on what I've seen, the director who's made best use of her actual acting abilities as of late has been Jason Paul Collum but since his movies are gay-themed some may have stayed away from them. Other than that and based on what I've seen, I'd say her strongest lead role was in FOR's Hybrid, which was filmed way back in 1996.

spookyx3 said...

thanks for that. will definitely check out DELTA DELTA DIE, and jason paul collum -- i did see his SCREAMING IN HIGH HEELS doc.

i don't think i'll ever be a fair judge of digital-era poverty row horror. i look at things like TERROR TOONS 2, or HELL ASYLUM (poor debra mayer!) and it makes me reluctant to go deeper. nobody seems capable of offering me exactly what i want anymore. TELE-ZOMBIE (2004) is one film that looks like it 'gets it right' to some degree, even though there's only a trailer to go by.

of brinke's postmillennial work that i've seen, i liked THE BAD FATHER (a short, 2002), and max allan collins' naturalistic REAL-TIME: SEIGE AT LUCAS STREET MARKET (2001) isn't much to look at (CCTV as camera) but gives her a well-written lead role as a courageous expectant mother and she plays it 100% note-perfectly.

> I've seen, I'd say her strongest lead role was in FOR's Hybrid

oh yeah! i bought the retromedia DVD when it came out.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

That "strongest lead role" was meant to be "Her last strong lead role." She had some better roles before then but Hybrid is still certainly one of the better parts she had. :)

One thing that REALLY interests me about Brinke is all of her early extra work. She claims to have been an extra on tons of 80s films and TV shows but only a few are really known. Not long ago, I spotted her doing a walk-by in 'The Seduction' during a sauna scene.

spookyx3 said...

FWIW, by late '92, brinke was calling HAUNTING FEAR her favorite of all the movies she'd done. definitely different, more substantial than past roles. in the planning stages, everyone assumed that she would play the part that went to deliah sheppard.

spookyx3 said...

> TELE-ZOMBIE (2004) is one film that looks like it 'gets it right' to some degree

i was wrong. over 12 years ago, they cut a silly, funny two minute trailer from a plodding full-length film. (credited first, brinke has 5:11 screen time, says less than 100 words.)

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I think the casting was right on the money there with Brinke as Victoria and Delia as the secretary. Karen Black's performance stood out as well just for being flat out bizarre. She was clearly bullshitting her way through the dialogue and looked extremely annoyed the entire time. I'm not sure what was up with that but perhaps FOR has an interesting story to tell about it!

Tele-Zombie apparently wasn't well distributed as I've never laid eyes on a VHS or DVD of it. Seems it's very hard to find! A few new Brinke movies popped up on Amazon Prime. Adam K, Safe Inside (another Collum) and a few others. I'll probably check a few out hoping she's not completely wasted like what happened with Lizzie Borden's Revenge and Axeman. Disciples is a somewhat larger role but the movie itself is pretty bad. I mostly just enjoyed watching the actors. And I kind of skimmed Cougar Cult and it's awful except when the Big Three are on screen, which isn't enough. I'll just have to make due with Trophy Heads being the real reunion movie even though they have to share screentime with others.

I did watch 'Hooker With a Hacksaw' last week to see Linnea and she is in recycled footage from an unfinished movie made in 2003 shown on a TV set. Even worse she is seen for seconds on the shortened Amazon cut but they used her to promote the film. Grrr!

spookyx3 said...

> Tele-Zombie apparently wasn't well distributed

recently found it by chance on youtube! shot c. 2003, the director couldn't get a fair distribution deal, so he took it to some local CREATURE FEATURES TV show last year.


the interview segments are painful. and what kind of a horror-host doesn't know who herschell gordon lewis was? i pulled it down and chopped out everything that wasn't the movie. runs 75:40; imdb lists the running time as 81m. there are scenes in the old trailer that weren't in here. no end credits.

spookyx3 said...

re HAUNTING FEAR, black said about casting her "they did it just to get my name." -- FANGO #113. i know she liked DP gary graver when they worked on EVIL SPIRITS around that time. something unrelated, from the same article: "one film the actress is sorry she made, is AUNTIE LEE'S MEAT PIES ... 'pat morita was in that and he's a wonderful guy, so we did have a good time together ... it was shot kind of pretty, but it's just about cooking people. i didn't want to be in a movie about cooking people, and i'm really embarrassed about it.'"

> A few new Brinke movies popped up on Amazon Prime

i'll give them a look, thanks. the newest i've seen of her's is still seven years old: SHY OF NORMAL, where she appeared in the linking story. also my first j. p. collum that wasn't a documentary. had some of my usual issues with it, but surprisingly enjoyable and involving, affecting work; IIRC, the last segment is particularly well observed/played. (i followed that up with his SOMETHING TO SCREAM ABOUT doc, which really knocked me out -- all hail debbie rochon!) the OCTOBER MOONs or maybe SAFE INSIDE next.

> Trophy Heads ... the real reunion movie

i've held off watching this one because i was afraid it wouldn't be worthy of them -- the last charles band directed movie i really dug was BLOOD DOLLS... in the late '90s.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

"they did it just to get my name." = ha, she was something else!

Her face in Haunting Fear basically says "I don't want to be here. Stop pointing that camera at me!" the entire time, which is somewhat hilarious. I love her interview (I think on the Trilogy of Terror DVD) where she insists she never did horror movies and all were science fiction! I don't remember Auntie Lee's Meat Pies being THAT bad. It's been awhile and it probably IS pretty bad but she certainly did worse films than that one.

Collum is one of the few micro budget directors that I think genuinely *could* be successful as a mainstream writer / director if someone just gave him a decent budget to work with for a change. He's a pretty talented writer held back by ultra low budgets and often times the actors aren't good enough to sell the dialogue, though Judith O'Dea, Brinke and a few others in his regular rotation always elevate the material to compensate. Shy of Normal I may check out if it's on Amazon. Probably will watch Safe Inside first though since it's genre.

I found Trophy Heads a LOT of fun and was surprised at how enjoyable it is. Of course I don't want to oversell it either but it's well made, very amusing and BLM (plus Denice Duff and Jacqueline Lovell) are all given some hilarious moments. So definitely check it out when you get a chance.

spookyx3 said...

> she never did horror movies and all were science fiction!

shades of the early '90s when it was determined that "horror" wasn't polling well anymore. "i see it as a dark thriller..." etc.

> Shy of Normal I may check out if it's on Amazon.

yep, that's where i saw it. unlike most current Bs i've tried, collum provides a little of what i want from all filmmakers: a sense of who they are. common subjects, themes, a progression i can follow from project to project. someone who has something to say, not just a fan who can afford a camera. i watched SAFE INSIDE, which is, according to some quick letterboxd filtering, one of only 82 horror features i've seen end-to-end made 1996 to present. my only real hurdle: the stark digital look, combined with as-is locations and a very common lack of real art-direction that only amplifies the cheapness. evidently i need a level of baked-in visual sophistication that i fear is beyond the majority of modern poverty row. i might have preferred NORMAL simply because the threadbare resources and ugly visuals are less of a distraction in a small dialogue-heavy piece.

thanks for mentioning collum. naturally i'd seen the '80s-scream-queen doc, but may not have made the jump to his fiction work without a push.

> Trophy Heads

sounds good. i'll grab a copy next month.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

"shades of the early '90s when it was determined that "horror" wasn't polling well anymore. "i see it as a dark thriller..."

Ugh, that was such a shitty period for the genre. Most of the straight horror releases were garbage and it was like every acclaimed genre film (perhaps starting with Misery) was deemed a "thriller" for PR purposes. I've never liked classifying a film as a "thriller" as the term doesn't mean much to me. Movies commonly called "thrillers" like The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en aren't trying to "thrill," they're trying to scare / disturb the audience just like any traditional horror film. The fact they're well-made, win awards and have Hollywood actors doesn't automatically remove them from the genre! You see the same exact thing going on nowadays when a film receives some acclaim. For instance, 'Get Out' isn't horror, it's a "social thriller!"

Agree with you completely on digital. While I understand it's the norm now and like the fact it enables more people to make movies, I'm just not a fan of the look. I'll take any film stock from 35mm down to Super 8 over digital. Hell, I'd probably even take the shot-on-VHS look over it as it still has some character.

spookyx3 said...

yep. come back pixelvision, all is forgiven.

(loved GET OUT! even though was an hour+ ahead of the reveal, like as they're driving through the house gates near the start, so much to admire there. totally worth the hype.)

spookyx3 said...

TROPHY HEADS: i liked that the film not only proved but also actually _addressed_ the notion of "you can't go home again." funny stuff throughout from everybody. the dungeon-dialogue scenes alone were worth it, especially the "improv" argument, michelle in the middle with this astonished look on her face. jacqueline lovell must not have made an impression on me in either HIDEOUS or HEAD OF THE FAMILY -- i didn't much like the benjamin carr period -- but she did here... didn't know denice duff at all, having skipped the SUBSPECIES sequels. was it just me or did linnea seem... fragile? glassy-eyed. and it wasn't the part. a shock, but i have to keep remembering, chronologically, the last acting i'd seen from her was in, what, 1995? time marches on . . .

spookyx3 said...

"lost" brinke pic VICTORIA'S SHADOW is on amazon prime. it sucks.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Glad you liked it! I wouldn't mind watching it again.

Agree about Linnea. I think she's had a rough few years. I know she moved back to Florida to help take care of her sick parents and then they passed away plus she's had financial problems. There was a funding thing to help her fix her leaky roof online not too long ago. Meanwhile, Brinke still seems well-connected in the business and has kept busy with steady / consistent work and I think Michelle works for a family-run business plus has a husband, daughter, etc. to help keep her sane so she can act whenever she wants to but doesn't NEED to financially.

If you get a chance, I'd recommend checking out the first Subspecies sequel, Bloodstone. It's actually better than the first IMO. Part 3 isn't so good but it's a direct follow-up to #2 so you may be inclined to watch it anyway. I've yet to see the fourth one. I met Denice Duff at a horror convention a few years ago. She was there with Ted Nicolaou. Every time we saw her over the course of that weekend my friend jokingly brought up Frogtown II to her and she looked like a deer in headlights! lol

I always associate Jacqueline Lovell with Cinemax type movies not her Charles Band stuff. She is someone I think could have done "bigger" things had she started out her career in another way. Seems she decided to try to go more mainstream the past decade and the best gigs she could book were uncredited bits in major movies and the occasional TV guest spot. I think it would be far more rewarding to have leads in B movies than walk-ons with no real dialogue in 'A' pictures. Trophy Heads shows she should probably try to move back in that general direction if she continues acting. She's a better actress than most of what you'll find in most of today's indy horror films so I couldn't imagine her having problems getting roles if she pursued them.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I think I've had Victoria's Shadow on my Amazon watchlist for 6 months now but haven't gotten around to it yet. I think it was filmed in like 1997 and is just NOW getting released so I figured it was pretty bad!

spookyx3 said...

shot jan-feb 1998, IIRC. the first time waldman teamed up with brinke, we got TEENAGE EXORCIST, & easily my favorite of all her performances. lightning does not strike twice. VICTORIA'S SHADOW is your standard late 90s micro-budget video-horror. glad i could check it off, i guess, but not much there for me. who knows what you'll make of it -- i just saw someone gave it four stars on lbxd!!

spookyx3 said...

> Bloodstone. It's actually better than the first IMO.

cool -- i'll see it. did the full-moon channel free trial last year to plug a few gaps, shoulda watched it then. (DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT was the best of what i saw; total surprise.)

> Frogtown II ... looked like a deer in headlights!

heh. if memory serves, jackson's "zen movie" theory involves not writing dialogue and winging it on location! i have not looked into his stuff beyond the first FROGTOWN and ROLLER BLADE. (although, DEMON LOVER DIARY, a documentary about his first feature made my 1980 10-best list.)

> Lovell

her late start date and appearances in all those erotic thrillers meant she wasn't on my radar. contemplated sitting through "richard chasen"'s KILLER EYE (1999) 'til i read the reviews. she's uncredited in wynorski's DEMOLITION HIGH (corey haim & alan thicke?? good god.)

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

In my opinion, Dark Angel is one of the best Full Moon productions from that period of time. Not perfect by any means but there's a lot of enjoyable stuff in there.

I'm ashamed to admit I had a lot of fun with Frogtown II! I don't know when he started with that "zen movie" crap but FII definitely had a script. The first Hell Comes to Frogtown is not a bad little B movie. He should have just continued along those lines. I hear all of his improvised later stuff is unwatchable.

You're not missing out giving The Killer Eye a pass. Outside of the design of the eyeball monster it's terrible!

spookyx3 said...

> don't know when he started with that "zen movie" crap

first one is THE ROLLER BLADE SEVEN (1991). jackson, in his last interview, called these things "art films". gives me a headache.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I *almost* watched that one due to Karen Black as I typically watch everything she's in. Do you know if there's a difference between The Roller Blade Seven (1991), Legend of the Roller Blade Seven (1992) and Return of the Roller Blade Seven (1993)? All three have near identical casts playing the same character so I was wondering if those are the same movie or re-edits of existing footage from the 1991 shoot or what?

And lol @ "art films"

spookyx3 said...

LEGEND is a re-edit from both ROLLER BLADE SEVEN and RETURN, which wasn't even out yet if those release years are right!

DGJ: "Executive Producer, Tanya York ... re-edited Roller Blade Seven and Return of the Roller Blade Seven making it one very bad movie. If you see the original film, some of Scott [Shaw]'s edits are magical. They set trends long before that style of flash cut and repeat cut editing ever came to MTV and Music Videos. And, this was the first movie he ever edited. He had never edited before! But, he just somehow understood how to make movie magic! Tanya came along and decided that the two movies were too weird. So, she wanted to make them more normal. All she did was take the two films and have some moron re-edit them into one feature and totally destroy our vision ... Scott and I believe that we have made two masterpieces as a team: Roller Blade Seven and Guns of El Chupacabra ... I believe these films will stand the test of time." -- TRASH TIMES #13 (2004) / [scottshaw.com/dgjinterview.html]

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Seems to me that York probably tried to salvage what she felt was a mess! Now I'd be curious to watch these all back-to-back-to-back, except I don't think I have it in me.

"They set trends long before that style of flash cut and repeat cut editing ever came to MTV and Music Videos."

Except they were already doing that in the 80s.

"Scott and I believe that we have made two masterpieces as a team: Roller Blade Seven and Guns of El Chupacabra."

The delusion was strong with these two!

spookyx3 said...

> York probably tried to salvage what she felt was a mess!

suffered through RB7 last night. there are no words. jackson got off light with the re-edit -- i'd have "destroyed his vision" by gouging his eyes out.

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