I know what you’re all saying how come IT CAME FROM 1980 X is doing yet another film outside of the 80’s? Well, the feature film this week is Demoniac. It’s a Jess Franco aka Jesus Franco film from 1974 and released under many different titles. One is Exorcism. Another is L’Eventreur de Notre-Dame. In each of its incarnation and releases in each nation the film has seen a different cut. The version that I discuss tonight is the Wizard Home Video release from the 1980’s rather than the original cut with all its hardcore and violent goodness. It’s also not the more pure 1979 release. This is truly the product of 80’s cutting and hey, we had to talk about Jesus on Easter even if all the good hardcore bits have been cut out and the violence is Made-For-TV ready.
Jess Franco directs and stars in this shocking thriller of a depraved religious fanatic. A Catholic priest, defrocked for the severity of his beliefs, writes for a French sex magazine. His editor praises his stories for their vivid erotic cruelty which, the author claims, is based on “real-life experience.” When the priest witnesses a series of staged Black Masses – complete with phony human sacrifices – he becomes convinced that the participants are possessed by spiritual evil and he dedicates himself to cutting the spirit of Satan from their hearts with the “Sword of the Lord.” He hunts the unsuspecting victims one by one… “cleansing” their souls of the Devil’s dark influence.
Definition of Demoniac from the FreeDictionary: 1. Possessed, produced, or influenced by a demon
Definition of Demoniac from the Catholic Church: the man “with an unclean spirt”(New Advent… click this link and see how the other half lives)
Also: Demoniac was a heavy metal band from New Zealand formed in 1993. The members went on to form DragonForce. The music has been described as Blackened Power Metal. Listen up and check out DragonForce too. Horns up (and yes it’s okay to put them up on Easter).
First impression of this movie is that it’s an absolute piece. The kills are genuinely boring. Half the movie is spent watching Jess Franco walking around a metro area searching for God knows what because the plot barely pieces together. There are German gore pictures from the 90’s that make more sense while watching them without subtitles than this seemingly straightforward picture. The only redeeming thing I could find in the entire picture were the copious amounts of nudity not limited to but including mucho boobies and at least one cameo by the infamous jungle bush. Get the machete. Oh, you know what else was truly awe inspiring about this flick? This bad ass cover leads us to the reason this is utter fantastic. Well, reason one and maybe saying the movie itself is fantastic is a far reach.
Wizard Video is responsible for some of the bad damn cover art ever to hit the Mom and Pop video circuit in the 80’s. It’s not a question of “if” you’ve seen one of their covers, it’s “when” did you see their covers. For me, a few of these were carefully placed on the upper shelves of Long Valley Video when I was a boy. They were mysterious big box classics that were out of reach. Thanks be to VHSPS for allowing me to see this as Demoniac, the American release, as I would have see it so many years ago. Unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily translate to a quality release, but the nostalgia dream satiated, the challenge of seeing those out of reach films as youth has been nourished. If you read HorrorHound magazine you should be very familiar with Wizard Video, their cover art and their reputation, but if not please review the materials HERE. It was initially produced by EuroCine who you can check out HERE.
So the movie was shite. It wasn’t worth the hunt, and all my dreams ruined. Not quite. It was just nice to find a familiar cover at Monster Mania and I picked it up. It was nice to see a movie that I remember fondly from the video store walls, but the only problem is I haven’t really seen it. I saw one version, one cut of it. Now we all know that the journey from Europe to America is somewhat challenging. Remember An American Tail… the mice… Somewhere Out There? It seems like getting to America must be more like playing E.T. on the Atari 2600 then a voyage over the sea. Impossible. Demoniac made its way to America along the line of a censors razor blade. This release, the VHS that I am most familiar with, was a cut up piece of the former film it once was. Out go the scenes of violence, sexual content and actual plot driven filming and in went more Jess Franco walking around Europe. I feel a bit stunned and cheated, but in all fairness this is what the cool kids have been watching in American until they learned how to order DVD’s from the UK. Even Fulci’s Beyond got snipped when it made its way across the pond. Welcome to the great Euro/American Tradition.
I’d like to say I corrected this egregious viewing error by watching the film in its uncut glory, but I haven’t. I can’t imagine that there’s content that was cut from this film that might make it worth watching. Let me see… I liked the organ music. There are whole web pages that are dedicated to the music and just how great the original compositions are for this film. Then of course there’s the disco/dance music that you find in the seedy club sequences. The movie looks bad, but that could be the VHS condition. I really don’t think it is. The acting is bad. There’s one scene where this guy keeps putting up his finger to his lips over and over and over again because of the poor continuity editing. It’s poorly dubbed. If they add anything to the kill sequences it would have to be H.G. Lewis level shred ‘em up gore with Crayola red blood. I suppose that thought is fitting seeing as the music reminds me of some of Lewis’ scores.
I’m not gonna tell you not to watch a movie by one of the great directors of EuroTrash especially since this film more than likely could define the sub genre, but I’ll tell you that the cover is misleading. This is not a Gothic, demonic horror flick with loads of special effects. It’s a sluggish semi-porn flick with a great title. If your on the fence about wanting to watch this movie and need a reason to actually take the leap, there’s this guy that looks uncannily like Denis Leary. I’m thinking Leary is warlock and ages very slowly.
I apologize for not being able to find a trailer for the film, but I haven’t found any worth showing. For a more complete release of the film stop by DIABOLIKDVD. To pick up the version I watched stop by our good friends at VHSPS. Last time I checked VHSPS didn’t have this one in stock. Could have been their last copy. You just might have to clean the heads of your VCR for this one, and that’s what IT CAME FROM 1980 X is all about.
VHS is the new vinyl.