Monday 30 June 2014

Bloody Birthday (1981)

Some movies should be preserved because they are examples of great art, others because they are examples of great storytelling. Still more may showcase fine acting, production design, or music.  88 Films’ Blu-ray release of BLOODY BIRTHDAY should be preserved for no other reason than it provides a fascinating snapshot of the popular culture of the time. Of course it’s also a deliriously barking mad slasher movie, one that I’d not had the chance to catch up with until now.
Three children are born during a solar eclipse. Ten years later they suddenly develop homicidal tendencies - strangling teenagers, bashing the local sheriff’s brains in, and shooting Susan Strasberg (perhaps they think she still has THE MANITOU growing in her back). The explanation for all this is as barmy as the children themselves. It’s something to do with the planet Saturn governing emotion, and because it was obstructed during the eclipse these children are now sociopaths. Perhaps “popular UK astrologers” (that bit’s for US readers) Russell Grant or Mystic Meg could explain it to us, and then again probably not. 


Aside from the novel idea of ten year olds shooting people, locking them in refrigerators or poisoning them, BLOODY BIRTHDAY delivers in several areas many other slasher films shy away from. There’s no shortage at all of topless young ladies, at least one of whom (Julie Brown) dances around for an inordinate amount of time before reaching for the feather boa I’m sure every self-respecting teenaged girl owned back then. However, it probably won’t be Miss Brown’s charms that will have you frowning at the screen, but more the eventual realisation that yes, that really IS a poster of Erik “CHIPS” Estrada in the background. Cultural icon spotters will also be well served between the killings with the opportunity to look out for the images of Deborah Harry, Ted Nugent and others plastered on bedroom walls.


Director Ed Hunt tries to ape some of the setups from HALLOWEEN but sadly he’s no John Carpenter. He does manage to convince Jose Ferrer to pop in for a cup of tea and deliver a few babies though, so there is that to his credit. BLOODY BIRTHDAY is not going to top anybody's 'best of' list but it is an diverting ninety minutes, probably best enjoyed on a double bill with Carlton J Albright's THE CHILDREN, or Tom Shankland's THE CHILDREN, or anything else with killer kiddies in it. 


88 Films’ Blu-ray transfer has a few scratches on the frame at one point, but overall this is a very good looking print of a very low budget film. Extras include a commentary track by Julian Kerswell (author of Teenage Wasteland) and an audio interview with director Ed Hunt that lasts just over fifty minutes. There’s also a ten minute interview with star Lori Lethin and the featurette A Brief History of Slasher Movies which is just that. There’s also a reversible sleeve, a booklet and a trailer. Sadly not on this disc is the interview with (uncredited) executive producer Max J Rosenberg where he describes director Hunt as a f*cking nut, but you can’t have everything. 

88 Films released BLOODY BIRTHDAY on Region B Blu-ray on 23rd June 2014

Thursday 26 June 2014

Eden and After (1970)




Here’s another essay in sexy weirdness from French art house director Alain Robbe-Grillet. I’m not even sure quite where to begin with this one, which is probably as it should be. After all, its auteur co-wrote LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD, one of the greatest enigmatic movies of all time. 


         EDEN AND AFTER (L’EDEN ET APRES) begins with a disorientating credits sequence in which title cards of actors' names are repeated while other technical credits are read out over them. Then we find ourselves in an art installation-cum-coffee shop called Eden, where a group of maths students meet to pontificate, in a way that only French art house actors really can, about how boring life is and the meaninglessness of everything. To assuage their ennui they construct macabre role-playing games that include (surprise surprise) bizarre sexual activities as well. 


         One of these make-believe tableaux is the springboard for the second half of the film, which takes its central character of Violette (Catherine Jourdan) and details her journey through a world of the strange and sexy, played out against a Tunisian backdrop. Along the way we get to see many familiar Robbe-Grillet tropes - attractive ladies put in cages, being chained up, being blindfolded, and some fun with broken glass. As with some of his other movies, such as TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS, the line between reality and fantasy gets so blurred that it’s impossible to tell which is which, and I suspect that’s very much the point. Other reviews have likened EDEN AND AFTER to Alice in Wonderland written by the Marquis de Sade and that’s actually as good a description as any. What I would say is that, while I didn’t understand all of it, I still found it an immensely worthwhile and rewarding viewing experience. 


Like the other movies in the BFI’s box set, EDEN AND AFTER comes with an introduction from Catherine Robbe-Grillet, a trailer, an interview with Frederic Taddei, and a commentary by Tim Lucas, who once again proves that he’s absolutely the best man for a job like this. 


So yes, I liked EDEN AND AFTER. There just isn’t enough weird, enigmatic and perhaps occasionally impenetrable art house cinema around these days, certainly not featuring gorgeous girls, blood, and lots of running around with knives. If you’re getting the BFI box set I’d recommend you start with either SUCCESSIVE SLIDINGS OF PLEASURE or TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS (both reviewed on this site) rather than this one. Anyone who is still undecided about whether or not to plunge into the world of Alain Robbe-Grillet well, that’s why I’ve put all these pictures up here.

The BFI is releasing the box set Alain Robbe-Grillet: 6 Films 1964 - 1974 on DVD and Blu-ray on 30th June 2014. The set will contain:

THE IMMORTAL ONE (L'IMMORTELLE) (1963)
THE MAN WHO LIES (L'HOMME QUI MENT) (1968)
EDEN AND AFTER (L'EDEN ET APRES) (1970)
N. TOOK THE DICE (N. A PRIS LES DES) (1971)
SUCCESSIVE SLIDING OF PLEASURE (GLISSEMENTS PROGRESSIFS DU PLAISIR) (1974)

Friday 20 June 2014

Trans-Europ-Express (1967)




      “This stuff never happens in Belgium!”
It’s time once again to enter the heady, sometimes inscrutable, often sexy, occasionally kinky world of French art house cinema with a look at one of the earlier works in the BFI’s forthcoming Alain Robbe-Grillet box set.


We’re in the Gare du Nord in Paris. Robbe-Grillet himself flicks through what might be termed at the time a publication for ‘sophisticated tastes’ at a newsagents before boarding the train of the title. But wait! It’s not him at all! Instead he’s playing a director called Jean who, together with his producer Marc (Paul Louyet) and his script girl Lucette (Catherine Robbe-Grillet) is trying to work out the plot for a new film. We see his initial crime movie plot pitch acted out with men in fake comedy beards and an Adam West-era BATMAN-style bomb which explodes and gets us into the main credits. 


Jean-Louis Trintignant is an actor who, for me as a boy, was always the Man Who Was In Every French Film Ever, beating even such ubiquitous late-night BBC2 favourites like Alain Delon and Gerard Depardieu. He gets on the train. “He could be your star” says Lucette and all of a sudden he is, playing drugs courier Elias and getting into all kinds of mishaps dealing with a gang who seem to be constantly testing his trustworthiness. It all reaches a climax when the police set a trap for Elias that involves a naked girl sitting on a rotating disc while chains are wound around her as part of a nightclub act and train noises and the sound of a woman moaning play on the soundtrack. 


For the most part, TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS is a light-hearted play on the French Flic movie genre. All the traditional tropes are there, including Alan Partridge’s “men in long raincoats who meet in brasseries at dawn”, silly coded messages, fake policemen (including Daniel Emilfork who will be known to fans of Euro-horror for playing the devil in Jean Brismee’s THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE (1971), obviously pretend blind men, tiny guns, and a beautiful girl (Marie-France Pisier) who isn’t what she seems and also isn’t averse to a bit of bondage (this is a Robbe-Grillet film after all).


The film frequently cuts back to Robbe-Grillet and his collaborators working on the plot that is unfolding in front of us, effectively blurring the boundaries between fantasy and reality (which in this film is also fantasy of course, but of a different kind) and placing it firmly in that special genre of movies that are about movie making, one that might include Preston Sturges’ SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941) and, perhaps even more similarly, Michael Winterbottom’s A COCK AND BULL STORY (2005).


The BFI’s Blu-ray transfer looks excellent and the print is clean and bright. Extras include another thirty minute interview with the director that’s actually quite a delight to watch, and a newly recorded commentary track from Tim Lucas that is likewise pleasantly informative and points out things that may well get missed on a first viewing. In fact it’s a bit like having a good (and chatty) friend who knows a lot about the movie in the room with you.
Another winner from the BFI, I have to say I found much to enjoy in TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS. I may well be becoming a fan of M. Robbe Grillet.
The BFI is releasing their box set ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET: SIX FILMS 1963-1974 on Blu-ray and DVD formats on 30th June 2014. 

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Sullivan's Travels (1941)

While I suspect I have seen a pretty high proportion of the horror films shot during the 1940s, I will admit straight away that my experience of 1940s comedies is limited principally to what the UK made during that decade. Before I watched Arrow’s new Blu-ray release of Preston Sturges’ SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS, I could have told you far more about movies like THE GHOST OF ST MICHAELS (1941) and indeed any Will Hay comedy, than I could have about the work of Mr Sturges. There is nothing deliberate about this - I have just never had the time to watch all the movies I would like to. Indeed, it's one of the reasons I (and so many like me) can be grateful to Arrow's Academy imprint, which is doing a sterling job of resurrecting classic movies, giving them the treatment they deserve, and making them more widely available.

In SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS Joel McCrea plays John L Sullivan. Rather than the famous real-life boxer, McCrea’s Sullivan is a fictional director of popular comedies that enjoy titles like Ants in Their Pants. He yearns to make more Socially Important projects and has a movie he wants to do called O Brother Where Art Thou?  In order to do this he decides to take to the road dressed as a tramp so he can increase his life experiences. Against his wishes he's followed by a camper van filled with his usual production team. Once he persuades them to leave him alone he's saved from starvation by The Girl (played by Veronica Lake, who apparently had a habit of driving everyone on the crew up the wall) who accompanies him on his adventures. As the film moves into its final act Sullivan is believed dead and ends up in a chain gang, where he realises that funny movies have their important part to play in society after all.

SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS is an ambitious comedy from a director who, by  the time he made it, had established a reputation for making movies in the style of the popular screwball comedies of the 1930s, but with an added depth and substance due in part to the dialogue he was able to include in his screenplays. SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS goes one step further, satirising the very industry in which Sturges worked, while at the same time mixing social commentary with audience-pleasing pratfall silliness. Over seventy years old and still very watchable, perhaps what amazed me most was the rapidity of some of the dialogue (especially in the early scenes). As Terry Jones says in the commentary track that accompanies this release, this really is a film you need to watch several times to get the most out of it.

Arrow Academy's Blu-ray is absolutely the best transfer of this film currently available. Extras include Kenneth Bowser's feature-length documentary on the life and career of Sturges which was hugely useful for someone like me who didn't know that much about him. There's also a Sturges-scripted propaganda short, Safeguarding Military Information, a short documentary on Sturges' stock company of actors and an appreciation of the movie by Kevin Jackson. There's also a booklet with new writing on the film, and a reversible sleeve. For anyone wanting to dive into the rich and varied world of 1940s American comedies, and indeed the work of Preston Sturges, Arrrow's Blu-ray of SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS is an excellent place to start.

Arrow Films released Preston Sturges' SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS on Blu-ray on its Arrow Academy label on 26th May 2014


Saturday 14 June 2014

The Pit (2013)



Just released on Region 2 DVD by 101 Films is THE PIT, which did the rounds on the UK festival circuit as JUG FACE - also the title it went by on its US release. Whatever distributors fancy calling it, THE PIT is a splendid little slice of backwoods US horror that’s well worth your attention.


A small hillbilly community gets by on selling the moonshine it makes to the local town. Any roadkill they find they keep to supplement their own diet. This existence is by no means carefree, however, and by means of a clever title sequence that resembles SIMON IN THE LAND OF CHALK DRAWINGS GOES TO HELL, we learn that after falling victim to ‘the pox’ they sacrificed their preacher to a nebulous something that came to live in the pit at the centre of their village-cum-trailer park. Since then the thing in the pit has cared for them and healed them, and all it asks in return is a regular sacrifice. 


The method by which the sacrifice is chosen has to win the award for the most original to pop up in a movie for many a year. Simple-minded Dawai (Sean Bridgers, giving a performance to rival that in executive producer Lucky McKee’s own directorial effort THE WOMAN) goes into a trance and fashions a clay jug on which is sculpted the face of the pit’s next victim. When that next victim turns out to be teenager Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter), pregnant by her brother and betrothed to the bovine Bodey (Mathieu Whitman), she hides the jug before anyone can see it and thus brings death and disaster to the community.


When you see the names of Larry Fessenden (acting this time), Lucky McKee (executive producer) and producer Andrew van den Houyten you know you’re going to be in safe hands and THE PIT / JUG FACE doesn’t disappoint. The acting is fine across the board, with Fessenden taking out his dental plate to play the father of the community, Sean Young offering up some serious competition for Kelly McGillis in the unrecognisable-80s-actresses-appearing-in-low-budget-US-horror stakes, and Sean Bridgers playing the character who gets almost all the audience sympathy. In a year that has seen GODZILLA bring back our old friend H P Lovecraft’s sense of overwhelming horror to the screen, it’s also very pleasing indeed to be reviewing a film in which, with its sense of a malignant natural force exploiting the people closest to the land, it’s possible to see the influence of  Welsh writer Arthur Machen .



101 Films’ DVD is a bare bones affair with no extras at all. But get it anyway - it might just be one of the best low budget horror films you’ll see all year.

101 Films released THE PIT (aka JUG FACE) on Region 2 DVD on the 9th June 2014

Thursday 12 June 2014

Successive Slidings of Pleasure (1974)






        I have to confess to being not that familiar with the works of French art-house director Alain Robbe-Grillet. I’ve seen LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD (which he co-wrote) several times because I love it, but I've never had the chance to immerse myself in his directorial efforts. Anyone (like me) requiring a crash course in Robbe-Grillet is going to be well served by a new Blu-ray and DVD six film set currently being prepared for release by the BFI. Although the movies are not going to be released by the BFI individually, I thought it might be fun to give some of them separate write-ups.


The most recent film in the set is 1974’s SUCCESSIVE SLIDINGS OF PLEASURE. Made on a tiny budget it tells, at its most superficial level, the story of an unnamed girl (AnicĂ©e Alvina) who is arrested and accused of the crime of murdering her flatmate (Olga Georges-Picot from Fred Zinneman’s DAY OF THE JACKAL and Tyburn’s PERSECUTION) by stabbing her to death with a pair of scissors. That’s about it for logic as Robbe-Grillet’s film presents us with a series of fascinating, disturbing, erotic and bizarre images that make up most of the running time. 


        While the film doesn’t always make a lot of sense (and probably isn’t supposed to) it’s never less than hypnotic, with plenty to please those with a fondness for mid-1970s Euro-horrors. With its combination of blood, beaches and beautiful women, there’s something of a Jean Rollin flavour to much of what is on screen, but Robbe-Grillet is a better film-maker than Rollin, and his use of these elements to explore a number of thematic concepts is ultimately more successful, and carried off with a far greater sense of finesse. Likewise, the numerous scenes of dungeon-related kinkiness reminded me of the work of Jess Franco, but with far more style and a genuine sense of the erotic rather than the ‘point the camera and pray’ approach frequently employed by that (beloved by me I’ll hasten to add) director.


For Euro fans there are several familiar faces. As well as Georges-Picot the judge interrogating Alvina is played by Michel Lonsdale (MOONRAKER & THE NAME OF THE ROSE) and the cop who initially gets called to Alvina’s house is played by an uncredited Jean-Louis Trintignant (UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME, SO SWEET, SO PERVERSE and many others).


The BFI’s Blu-ray looks gorgeous, and is an improvement on the Region A Redemption release in terms of extras if nothing else. Both discs contain a fascinating interview with Robbe-Grillet from 1984 that helped me understand the film, but the BFI disc also has a newly-filmed introduction by the director’s wife Catherine (who wrote S&M classic L’IMAGE, later filmed by Radley Metzger) and an erudite and informative commentary by Tim Lucas.


The more I think about it, the more I really liked SUCCESSIVE SLIDINGS OF PLEASURE. It virtually screams mid-70s French art-house, with all the kinds of imagery that was mercilessly satirised on British TV sketch shows by everyone from MONTY PYTHON to THE GOODIES (eggs being cracked open on a naked girl, scantily clad ladies lying in rock pools for no good reason, a bed frame buried on a beach, and many more). But in a modern world where cinemas show little but dull, formulaic, sanitised Hollywood product it still feels like an absolute breath of fresh air. Slightly naughty sado-masochistic beautifully filmed art-house air, mind you, but as far as I’m concerned that just makes it all the sweeter.

The BFI is releasing their box set ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET: SIX FILMS 1963-1974 on Blu-ray and DVD formats on 30th June 2014. 

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Cellar Dweller (1987)

From the gloomy, dusty archives of Empire Pictures, taken from the section labelled ‘crappy rubbish’ (it’s quite a big shelf) here comes CELLAR DWELLER, a semi-coherent rendering of an interesting idea that sadly doesn’t really work. 
Jeffery Combs, doing his very best ‘Herbert West - Animator’ here, plays comics artist Colin Childress in an extended cameo in an extended prologue. Colin is famous for drawing the ‘Cellar Dweller’ comic, which seems to feature nothing but the exploits of a big hairy monster that tears people apart. Except if you’re a girl, in which case it would appear from the artwork that you have to have ridiculously prominent nipples that can even project through Kevlar to make you a candidate for the ripping. How this comic has become such a success if that’s all it features is anyone’s guess, but let’s move on. Colin draws the monster for what must be the thousandth time. It comes alive and attacks him. He burns down the house. Cue the credits, which last for ages to pad out the running time.

Thirty years later, Colin’s house has been turned into an Empire Films version of an art institute, which means it has a scantily clad girl with 1980s hair sitting on a kitchen table and beating eggs, a random assortment of actors playing students, some of whom look dangerously close to retirement age, and an at-the-end-of-her-career-and-therefore-cheap Yvonne de Carlo presiding over them. Into this somewhat unrealistic milieu comes comics student Deborah Mullowney, who looks as if she’s studying big hair and bigger earrings rather than comic book art (or acting for that matter). 

Debs starts drawing Cellar Dweller. He pops up intermittently to eat people who have upset her slightly using his very rubbery jaws. There’s a girl in a shower. There’s a bloke with a mullet. There are some poor optical effects. Deborah and mullet-boy try and get rid of Cellar Dweller. There’s a twist. The film ends. I really can’t think of anything else to say about it.

CELLAR DWELLER is a movie best enjoyed by those nostalgic for the halcyon days of the VHS era, when any old nonsense could be packaged in an oversized, brightly coloured box, and could be assured of pride of place on the rental shelf for about a week before the sticky fingers of those who borrowed it rendered it all but untouchable for the rest of us. To augment the experience, there’s even a line of video drop-out about a minute in, just to remind us that this DVD transfer has been taken straight from a VHS master. 
I always want to like the films I review here. I wanted to like CELLAR DWELLER, but I just can’t. When the best thing you can say about a film is that it’s short then you know it’s in trouble. There are no extras. You’ve all been warned.

101 Films released CELLAR DWELLER on Region 2 DVD on 12th May 2014

Sunday 8 June 2014

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

Michael Cimino’s directorial debut finds its way onto UK Region B Blu-ray courtesy of Second Sight in this sparkling transfer that’s worth checking out, even though the disc is an otherwise bare bones release.
Retired thief “Thunderbolt” (Clint Eastwood) is hiding out as a priest in a small town after his final job went a bit wrong. Within the first few minutes of the film, surviving gang members George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis catch up with him, causing Eastwood to make a swift exit mid-service amidst a hail of bullets. Car thief Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges) just happens to be passing in his latest acquisition, and soon Eastwood is his accidental passenger. 
          As the two hit it off it transpires that, due to a variety of complications, the money from Eastwood’s final heist is still hidden behind the blackboard of a small Montana schoolhouse. They go there but the place has gone, replaced by a newer building. Assuming the money to be lost, and with Kennedy and Lewis catching up with them, the four  decide to perform one last robbery. However, despite their intricate arrangements, including the use of a gun borrowed from a Korean tank, things don’t go entirely to plan.


A combination of heist caper and road movie, Cimino’s film benefits greatly from the director’s eye for the gorgeous Montana scenery, rendered even more beautiful on Blu-ray. Shots of Eastwood being pursued across a field, or a fistfight taking place next to a lake, are put together with an almost painterly eye for composition and colour, and the 2.35:1 aspect ratio helps to make the landscape one of the stars of the film. Cimino’s own script meanders about a bit, but it’s such a lot of fun, and all four leads are so watchable, that you don’t really mind. 

As stated above, unfortunately there are no extras - not even a trailer. A previously available US Blu-ray from Twilight Time had a commentary, score track and booklet, but it’s now so prohibitively expensive that if you haven’t had the chance to experience THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT on Blu-ray, Second Sight’s disc is going to be your best bet.


Second Sight are releasing Michael Cimino's THUNDERBOLT & LIGHTFOOT on UK Region B Blu-ray on 23rd June 2014

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Porky's (1982)

Bob Clark’s PORKY’S was a huge hit when it was released in the UK and around the world back in 1982, thanks in no small part to the then-new phenomenon of home video, plus the no-doubt vast numbers of young men not old enough to get into the cinema to see it, but who were able to sneak it home from the video shop. I certainly remember copies being passed around in school and it became, for one long summer, one of those must-see tapes, mentioned in the same breath as I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and SS EXPERIMENT CAMP.

PORKY’S is a comedy. A brash, vulgar, comedy that followed in the wake of the success of the similarly-themed NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE (1978). Whereas ANIMAL HOUSE utilised a college campus for its collection of insane and anarchic set-pieces, PORKY’S has its lead characters younger and still at high school. Whether or not that might have been the reason for its remarkable box-office performance it’s difficult to say, although the timing of its release was probably important too. It remains the most successful Canadian film of all time, and was the movie that really kick-started the trend for similar lowest common denominator teen comedies such as FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and REVENGE OF THE NERDS.


In 1954 a group of Florida high school friends spend their time playing pranks and attempting to have sex with the local female population. This eventually leads them across the county line to the scary Everglades whorehouse of the title and a run-in with its owner. Their eventual revenge on him and his sheriff brother provides a satisfactory ending for the film, which is otherwise an excuse for Clark to put together as many funny high school stories as he can within the narrative. 

In some ways PORKY’S has a level of humour that isn’t very much above CONFESSIONS OF A WINDOW CLEANER and similar smutty British sex comedies. But, I have to confess, that while trying my best to stay above all the lowbrow humour being trotted out on screen, I found myself crying with laughter on several occasions. I could try and go into why, and the various skills Clark displays with timing and editing, but at the end of the day, PORKY’S just happens to be intermittently very, very funny. What makes it even more special is that in between the moments of hilarity there’s a fair bit of character development and even social commentary that’s rarely seen in the genre
PORKY’S was directed by the same man who gave us horror classics BLACK CHRISTMAS, DEATHDREAM, MURDER BY DECREE and CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, and while it may seem an odd choice for someone with that kind of pedigree, it should never be forgotten that horror and comedy both tend to bypass the brain and cause you to jump or laugh without you having much control over either. 
Arrow’s Blu-ray looks excellent and is a new digital transfer prepared by Twentieth Century-Fox. Extras include a ported over commentary track from director Clark (who died in 2007) and a short featurette in which he describes how he came to make the film. Skin Classic! is a short piece featuring a gentleman calling himself Mr Skin who explains why he considers the shower scene in PORKY’S to be one of the Ten Best Nude Scenes of All Time. There are trailers for all three PORKY’S films, a booklet, and new cover art.

Arrow Films are releasing Bob Clark's PORKY'S on Blu-ray in both steelbook and standard editions on 16th June 2014

Sunday 1 June 2014

Demon Legacy (2014)

All kinds of movies turn up in the post here at the House of Mortal Cinema, and it’s always a pleasant surprise when a totally unknown quantity turns out to be much better (or at least, much more enjoyable) than otherwise expected. 
DEMON LEGACY is just such an example. Out of the vast number of micro-budget shot on video movies that are flooding the market at the moment, the last thing I expected to encounter was an American take on the completely barmy demon possession movies Indonesia specialised in churning out in the early 1980s. The box says this is a cross between EVIL DEAD and LAST EXORCISM, but on the basis of this I’d be very interested to know if directors Rand Vossler and Bob Gill are fans of the work of H Tjut Djalil (MYSTICS IN BALI) or Liliek Sudjio (QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC) because the climax of DEMON LEGACY plays out like one of those films without the dubbing, but with the doing-their-best-for-the-money special effects.


Five attractive young girls spend the night in a remote mountain lodge, find a ouija board and, in the process of contacting one of their number’s grandmother, unleash some sort of demonic force from the basement. The force quickly possesses some of them (handily in the shower in one case, just to up the exploitation elements from a previous hot tub scene) and pretty soon chaos reigns. 
        But wait? Who’s that old codger (that’s what he’s called in the credits) lurking in his trailer in the middle of the woods who just happens to have furnished it in the style of an especially demented shop in Glastonbury? Why does Michelle (Anna Maria Demara) keep having weird flashbacks to her weirdy-eyed grandmother (THE EXORCIST’s Eileen Dietz) doing a bizarre ritual? Why does she have such trouble keeping her bra on? Will that washing line with a large pair of socks hanging from it feature prominently in the background during the bonkers finale for absolutely no reason at all?


DEMON LEGACY is better directed, better acted, and a lot more fun than most similarly budgeted modern horror fare, and it earns itself many points for not using one of those awful blue filters and instead relying on its spooky forest location for its atmosphere. I’m not saying this film is a classic by any means, but it could sit respectably alongside any number of fun, low budget horror films from the 1970s and 1980s, especially those Indonesian ones. If that’s your sort of thing then dig in and enjoy.



101 Films released DEMON LEGACY on Region 2 DVD on 19th May 2014