The Demon

Just going to throw out that old shower curtain? or, Light rock, tight pants
★★
☆☆
Released: 
1979
Director: 
Percival Rubens
Starring: 
Jennifer Holmes, Cameron Mitchell, Craig Gardner, Zoli Marki, Peter J. Elliott
The Setup: 
Serial killer stalks a bunch of very strange people.
Discussion: 

I am so behind on my reviews. I have a bunch of notes for movies that I watched a few weeks ago but haven’t written about yet, which is a recipe for disaster [or at least just lame writing] because I make notes such as “guy attacks mom by sea—zoom into rocks,” written with the understanding that I’ll write the review in the next few days and RECALL what I was talking about. Anyway, this review is one of those where I have a lot of notes I cannot in any way piece together with a memory of the movie. So we’ll proceed with that understanding.

I do remember the movie being fairly amusingly weird, and the characters delightfully silly. This is written and directed by this guy Percival Rubens, so we are getting one man’s personal vision. A reader with similar tastes told me about it, and when he described how he got it on a cruddy four-movies-for-$5 kind of thing, I figured it might very well be on my 50 Chilling Classics boxed set, and sure enough, this movie was already conveniently located right in my living room.

So my first note, like I said, is “guy attacks mom – intro cut with moonlit sea – zoom into rocks,” which I have no memory of, although the “zoom into rocks” may be related to a later note, “lots of coastal footage.” Then [this I remember a bit] this woman is attacked in her home while her daughter Emily sleeps through the whole thing. The husband saves the wife, but little Emily is kidnapped. Then there’s a somewhat homoerotic scene where thus mustache man picks up a male hitchhiker. It stops being any kind of erotic once mustache man reveals that he is an actor and starts delivering a long speech / monologue to his poor captive audience.

So then we meet Colonel Bill Carson, former Marine, played by Cameron Mitchell. Carson is the all-too-rare former Marine who has become a full-time psychic who now uses his gifts to help those in need. He is hired by the mom and dad in order to help them find Emily. Please take note of the time the mom breaks down crying and buries her head directly into her husband’s crotch. I know honey, I find it soothing too, when I’m upset. During this time we note that the father is more interested in finding the man responsible than he is in finding Emily. Carson then goes into Emily’s room and throws this weird scene in which he is sniffing and moaning all around Emily’s bed. Poor Cameron Mitchell, sort of a fourth-rate William Shatner substitute, is not very convincing as a former Marine psychic, despite the great deal of talk he delivers on the ins and outs of the psychic process.

We then join this blonde woman, Mary, as she is teaching her kindergarten class. She sees this strange man lurking outside, and this inspires her to lead the kids in the most dementedly perky singing round ever. We then have a scene with Mary’s son, who is nuzzled a bit more intimately than is comfortable by their Latina housekeeper. Then Mary goes out to meet her brunette friend at the disco, and as you know, disco scenes are always welcome—even poorly-lit ones. After the disco our two heroines part ways and each go alone down a dark and scary path. The scenes of the women walking at night are clearly the stepchildren of the stalking / walking scenes from Cat People. Anyway, the brunette is stalked, and the guy is about to rape her when these biker brawlers show up, and before you can say “swizzle stick” one of their bikes has exploded. Motorcycles are so combustible in movies.

Meanwhile ex-Marine psychic Carson is going all Deanna Troi—that is, lots of impressions, zero useful information. The parents are frustrated, and we have it reinforced that the father is really bent on vengeance. Then we’re back with Mary and her friend, who have a gossipy chat about boys while meditating in a lotus position. Then Mary goes out on a date with this dude who takes her back to his hot 70s bachelor pad, at which point you’ll start to think: WHAT the HELL is she wearing? A shower curtain? Well, remember this thought later, because you’ll see what canny foreshadowing this is. The amazing 70s seduction scene continues [so sensual], it’s all tight pants and light rock, but Mary puts her beau off from hot pounding cock-sex and says that he needs “mother love.” Uh, ewww? I have written in my notes: “This is a really strange scene.”

SPOILERS > > >
So after another meditation scene with the two women in bathing suits [Meditation is a perfect time for girl talk!]. Meanwhile Mitchell continues to uselessly drive around while trying to pick up vibes. He is not a very effective psychic, truth be told. Then there’s a 360-degree pan as some woman hears a noise as she’s going into her apartment, and then Mary gets an obscene phone call. I have written in my notes “I can’t understand the relationship between the three women.” Anyway, so Mitchell has given the dad a drawing or something, and the dad goes over to this hotel room for a little vigilante justice, but he turns out to be the one that gets popped. Now I have no memory of this, but I have written in my notes: “Boys find skeleton in tree,” so it must be true. Then Emily’s Mom, pissed that her husband is dead in part because of the stupid tip they got from Mitchell, lays into him about how useless he is. You’re like “Yeah, it’s about time someone pointed out what a boobly time-waster he is” when the mother goes one step further: [Spoiler, I said!] she takes out a gun and pops him one between the eyes! It’s quite a surprise, and there ya go, the guy we thought was going to be our hero now lies dead!

So we’re stuck with Mary and that brunette, whatever her name is. One of the women [forget who] gets all dressed up in lingerie and sets an elaborate table just to have dinner all by herself. You know, you’ve gotta pamper yourself. Just because you don’t have a lover and are in fact going to furtively masturbate for an hour before going to bed with the aid of a sleeping pill is no reason not to make private time an event. You deserve it! Now, I have no recollection of the scenes that follow, but here’s what I have written: “all of a sudden we’re with all these sexy couples. Killer wears weird glove with press-on nails [it’s true, he had this kind of glove with sharp claws on the fingers]. Brunette buys it.”

So now it’s time for Mary to face the killer. He stalks her in her home, turning away from her briefly to stop the Christian radio [he’s a killer with priorities]. Then… then… then… Mary suddenly and INEXPLICABLY takes off her dress in order to CRAWL NAKED through the crawlspace under her front porch. You cannot even hear me saying “WHY?” with the true impassioned vehemence I feel. So after her slog through the mud she comes back in and SLASHES A HOLE IN THE SHOWER CURTAIN AND WEARS IT AS A PONCHO. She also dons a shower cap to complete her ensemble. Remember what I said about the other woman's earlier dress looking like a shower curtain? I just… I really can’t comment on all of this except, thank you, I guess, for being so unusual. Anyway, soon the killer is stopped by being stabbed in the neck or something, we have a vague suggestion that maybe he really was some kind of demon, and that’s the end.
< < < SPOILERS END

It was amusing. What makes the movie what it is are the strange characters and the bizarre, goofy things that they do, like the weird kindergarten song circle or the girl talk while meditating or the whole shower curtain thing. Not to mention the sudden death of someone very central to the story... that was a genuine surprise. So yeah, if this is on the flip side of some set you’ve bought or rented, you could do worse than to flip the disc over and watch it. It certainly is… something.

Should you watch it: 

If you have nothing better to do, and you’re in the mood for something oddball.

Comments

Thanks for the review here. I watch this movie every year at least once. There's something magical about it, especially Dean Turner and his bachelor pad. Great ambiance to t his film.