Michael J. Murphy
College student Jacky (Becky Simpson) receives an invitation to a party taking place at a remote farmhouse owned by her estranged friend Laura (Catherine Rowlands), who had been "seduced away" from her studies to live out in the sticks with her new husband, Ed (Joseph Sheahan). Upon arrival, Jacky discovers the little get-together is actually a costume party but she's brought nothing to wear. Luckily her friend happens to have a Bride of Frankenstein costume sitting around. The masked party guests grab torches and head outside to some pagan altar. A confused and terrified Jacky is then grabbed and given an injection of a "sedative" against her wishes. She promptly passes out.
Jacky doesn't awaken until late the next day. After finding mysterious scratches on the inside of her thigh, she grabs her suitcase and rushes for the door. However, she's stopped by Ed and Laura, who warn her not to leave, tell her they're powerless to do anything about what's about to happen and keep speaking in extremely vague terms about a "he" and a "him" without actually identifying anyone. Jacky's attempt to drive off fails when her car mysteriously dies. And then her college boyfriend, Rick (Russell Hall), who was supposed to be back at school studying, turns up and makes no bones about also being involved in luring her there and whatever else happens to be going on.
Our utterly confused heroine in taken back inside and understandably locks herself up in a bedroom, while everyone else there continues to behave strangely. A guilt-stricken Laura eventually decides to confide in Jacky that they have somehow disturbed an ancient evil presence there that's growing stronger by the day but otherwise doesn't fully elaborate. Aside from the couple, there's also a slutty / bitchy ("I don't dislike you but I'm trying to pretend you don't exist.") maid named Liz (Tina Barnett) and a couple of young farmhands; Alan (Steven Longhurst) and the mute Maurice (Colin Efford), who sleep in the same bedroom and have nude magazine layouts taped to their walls. The former is a drunk who sometimes speaks in a demon voice while the latter is a young muscular stud who constantly lifts weights and is also sometimes possessed with glowing red eyes. Supposedly, whatever it is haunting the land has chosen to mostly use him as a host body due to his strength.
Jacky discovers that she's been brought there because she's a virgin and is wanted by the demon to "propagate his kind in flesh and blood" during the spring equinox. A series of murders soon follow. Someone's impaled with a pitchfork, raised off the ground and then thrown into a lake. A head gets crushed, a neck is snapped and, during the bloodiest bit, a man is stabbed through the throat, crucified and has his heart ripped out. Poor Jacky isn't even able to lose her virginity because her boyfriend gets a knife stuck through his throat before he can even get his pants off. A body thrown into a fire ends up spawning a red-eyed hooded demon.
Aren't rural farms one of the best horror movie settings? For starters, they're out in the middle of nowhere. Then you've got barns and other buildings away from the main home where people can get killed and bodies can be hidden. They're usually surrounded by woods, so you've also got that. And there are always all manner of sharp weapons just lying around and readily available. While this makes some good use of all of that, no time at all is wasted throwing us right into the story and the film is has some pretty entertaining bits, you have to look past truly shoddy technical credits to get to the good stuff. The photography is flat, the sound recording and editing are both awful, the story is muddled, the acting (while not the worst I've ever seen) is mostly amateurish and the film somehow manages to drag toward the end despite the 43-minute run time, which is pretty inexcusable.
While I'm just starting to scratch the surface with Murphy's films, I'm already picking up some major DeCoteau-style homoerotic vibes. While the leading lady is briefly seen topless, much more time is spent lingering on the male cast members. In fact, the hunky mute guy is showcased more in various stages of undress, and the recipient of far more exploitative camera shots (consult screen caps), than any of the women. During nearly all of his scenes, he's shown is skin tight clothing, shirtless or changing clothes and even has his shirt ripped off the one time he happens to be wearing one. The camera pans up and down his body and countless shots are specifically cropped just to show off his chest and arms. I've watched four movies from this guy so far and three of them feature long montages of sweaty guys working out, including this one. We shall see if this particular theme continues on in his later work. I have a sneaking suspicion it will.
Unlike many of the director's other films, this received a VHS release in a number of countries, including the U.S. (on the Mega [a division of Mogul] label), Canada (Videoline Productions) and the UK (Scorpio Video). There was also a 2008 DVD release (limited to 1000 copies and featuring a commentary track from the director) through Sarcophilous Films, who've paired it with Murphy's theater slasher The Last Night (1983). This may explain why it's one of only two Murphy films with over 100 votes on IMDb, though seeing how it also shares its title with a Wes Craven-directed TV movie released two years later, confusion may also have something to do with that.