Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Vinegar Syndrome/Exploitation.TV - DEMONOID on Blu-ray ""

Friday, October 23, 2015

Vinegar Syndrome/Exploitation.TV - DEMONOID on Blu-ray

DEMONOID (1981; Alfredo Zacharias)
Synopsis (from Vinegar Syndrome's site)
At a dig in rural Mexico, a British industrialist accidentally unleashes an ancient evil: a severed hand, possessed by a vengeful demon, that attacks, kills and takes over the hand and mind of anyone who interferes with its ruthless quest for violence. Determined to stop the bloodshed, the wife of the industrialist (Samantha Eggar) joins forces with a renegade priest (Stuart Whitman), but will they be able to conquer the evil hand before the forces of hell overtake them?

Alfredo Zacharias is an interesting filmmaker. He's from Mexico City and his filmography only consists of a few movies with English language titles. Prior to DEMONOID, he made THE BEES in 1978 and that movie is something else. Check out the trailer:
As you can see, Alfredo can make a pretty nutty movie. While it came out the same year as THE SWARM, the two films aren't quite the same to say the least. I like that Alfredo is not afraid of using stock footage for dramatic effect. He and Ed Wood have that in common. That said, their is something about filmmakers from outside the U.S. that tends to make their films interesting even when the quality could be better. There's just this intangible "why?' factor to some of the choices you see made in films like this (and especially Italian films). I always see it as some sort of shifted cultural point of view that brings about certain decisions and some of those can be the most entertaining things about these kind of movies. DEMONOID for instance has this repeating motif of a high-pitched choir as score that comes up throughout the movie. It's almost a droney kind of thing with the choir maintaining certain notes for long periods. It feels like someone trying to emulate sort of an OMEN kind of vibe on a smaller scale. It plays kind of funny, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It goes with DEMONOID's over the top story of possession and evil on the loose quite well. What I like about director's like Alfredo is that you can tell that they cared about the movie they were making. There is a (perhaps misguided) passion there that can be felt throughout and I don't find that passion present in a good amount of the movies I watch these days. That kind of ernest dedication really goes a long way. Let me be right up front with you though (in case I wasn't clear), this movie is kind of bananas. It's creepy and sleazy and just bizarre at times. It lands squarely in "HolyF*ckingSh*t!" territory. If that is your bag, then I think you will like it. It has a lot of crazy stuff - the least of which is a 300-year-old disembodied hand that crawls around grabbing people. One of the grabbed folks is the lovely and talented Samantha Eggar. I just had the unique experience of rewatching her performance in THE BROOD right before seeing DEMONOID and it made for a memorable comparative experiment. It comes down to direction and story and obviously David Cronenberg wins the day in both cases. It was fascinating though to see Eggar, only a few years on from THE BROOD, playing this role in DEMONOID. She is called upon to do some kinda ridiculous stuff and the closing shot of the film exemplifies the pinnacle of ludicrous goofball antics for sure. I love that Vinegar Syndrome got their hands on this one and it goes quite well with other off-the-wall movies in their catalog like RAW FORCE and RUNAWAY NIGHTMARE. To call these "bad" movies is remarkably reductive and doesn't properly allow for the entertainment value that they provide (which is a good deal greater than a lot of current Hollywood films). If you have a taste for adventurous, oddball cinema then Vinegar Syndrome is a company you should really be keeping an eye on.
Special Features:
+ Restored in 2k from 35mm camera negative.
+ Alternate International version: MACABRA (90 min).
+ New video interview with Director Alfredo Zacarias.
+ Multiple theatrical trailers and TV spot.
+ Original artwork gallery.
+ Reversible MACABRA artwork.
+ Optional French soundtrack for MACABRA.
+ English SDH subtitles for both DEMONOID & MACABRA.
+ Blu-ray/DVD Combo | Region Free | 1.85:1 OAR.
(All extras on both Blu-ray and DVD)
DEMONOID can be purchased on Blu-ray through Amazon, Vinegar Syndrome and other online retailers.

1 comment:

Steven Millan said...

Between both DEMONOID and its international cut MACABRA,I'd say that MACABRA is the much better version since it focuses more on building up both the characters and the storyline and it doesn't travel toward ludicrous direction like the DEMONOID cut does. We're very lucky that Vinegar Syndrome has included the MACABRA cut on its newly released DEMONOID DVD/Blu Ray edition.