Synopsis: Things get out of hand when Jenny, an unhappy housewife, is introduced to a fantasy world by her strange next-door neighbor. Soon a series of bizarre deaths see a detective tracking Jenny down and the two begin a confrontation that will see good battling evil.
The Demon Lover 2.5
eyelights: its cheesy, derivative synth score.
eyesores: everything else.
“When you fight with Laval, you get the horns, Damian!”
There are bad movies. Then there are “bad” movies. You know, the kind that are so bad they’re good. Then there are BAD movies, that are so bad they’re good but so bad you can’t suffer them alone. That’s when MST3K, Cinematic Titanic, The Film Crew or RiffTrax come in handy.
Sadly, none of them ever dared to tackle ‘The Demon Lover’, a 1977 supernatural horror film also known as ‘The Demon Master’. Written and directed by Donald G. Jackson and Jerry Younkins, it’s a no-budget picture only barely better than ‘Manos: The Hands of Fate‘.
Unsurprisingly, the picture barely saw a release and has since pretty much been relegated to the dustbin of history – well, aside for a minuscule return to the public consciousness when a “making of” documentary called ‘Demon Lover Diary’ saw the light of day in 1980.
‘The Demon Lover’ is everything that could possibly be wrong with a motion picture. Oh, sure, it has a script, a director, a crew and actors, but it appears as though none of them had any clue on how to ply their… ahem… craft. The level of ineptitude on display is uncanny.
The picture takes us to the heart of a group of young partygoers who form a makeshift coven, unaware that their leader, Laval, is much more ambitious than they’d imagined. After coming at odds, the group begins to suffer Laval’s wrath – in the form of a bloodthirsty demon.
Naturally, a cop gets involved. And a can of whoop @$$ is opened.
It stars Jerry Younkins himself as Laval, a dumpy, long-haired, poorly-groomed weirdo who practices martial arts. Poorly. And possibly wears a diaper. The rest of the cast are talentless nobodies that include a dimestore Tony Iommi, Tom Petty, Frank Zappa and Keanu Reeves.
They were probably all friends of the filmmakers and are best left uncredited.
You know, to spare their reputations.
And their families’.
To spare yourself the details of this cinematic monstrosity, stop reading now. Know that not everyone needs to go to the heart of darkness and back; there is no shame in turning back. But, if you really must know how bad it gets, read on. Or find a copy of the picture somewhere.
Wow. You’re very brave. Or you’re a sucker for punishment.
Let’s test your mettle, shall we?
‘The Demon Lover’ opens with a young woman in bed, having nightmares. Well, she’s twisting around her bed, really, making Regan look catatonic. From a remote location, some hippy sorcerer (Laval) tells her to “Rise”. She grabs her keys, goes for her car, drives into the woods and gets out.
We don’t know why she did this. We don’t know why she got out. But there she is, in the dark, her head screwing around as she looks for something while she walks. She walks down a path, and there are weird sounds (possibly) emanating from the forest. Are they pots and pans? Who knows.
Then a hand slams down on her. Slams. Down. Next thing we know, she’s bloodied and being dragged away.
Cut to a house party.
Losers drink and “dance” so pathetically it instinctively makes one cringe. Pamela, some silly blonde, is upstairs arguing with Laval about a sex ritual he expects her to do in a transparent tent behind them. She tears off and sits in the staircase, “crying” for no apparent reason. Boohoo.
Acting alert!!! The exchange between Pamela and Laval is uncanny in its ineptitude. Words fail me.
After Damian, Pamela’s friend, catches wind of what took place (he wasn’t already aware of the plan?) he gets into an argument with Laval. He questions Laval’s leadership in front of the group and they all agree. Damian and Pamela leave the party and the rest of the lemmings follow.
Laval is left alone like a big loser. He’s steaming. And so are his diapers. Then some naked chick shows up from out of nowhere. So the lucky dude does his ritual with her instead: some amorphous creature with massive reverb in its voice shows up in the shadows. Laval tells it to do his bidding.
Listen to dumpy dude, man!
Then a couple of teens find a naked bloody body in the woods (!). Cut to a parked car and ambulance with an overlapping sound of ambulance arriving – um… even though it’s already arrived. The victim? Pamela. Of course it was. But her friends aren’t really that upset when questioned.
…though it’s been less than 24 hours.
…and though they claim they are. (Acting alert!!!)
So, given that she’s “upset”, one girl gets her friend to pick her up and we watch them drive around town for hours. Seriously. Unless the sun sets very quickly, they must have been at it for hours. It’s a big town, apparently. So it’s not surprising when they run out of gas in the woods.
The driver goes for gas. Meanwhile, the other girl freaks out in the car, manically going from window to window. Then she takes off (um… what about the empty tank?). She has a… what.. “epileptic fit” while driving and runs over her friend. She was obviously unable to get foot off gas.
Laval and his demon pop up. She brakes. Her now-undead friend attacks her.
Damien is upset that new girl, Pamela, is dead. He blames Laval but decides to consult Tony Iommi in the woods. Meanwhile, pursuing his own leads, a police inspector goes to a house party full of people talking about the occult and speaks with a specialist there. Occult house parties? Really?
Damian tells the cop to check out Laval, so we go to Laval’s castle and watch his dumpy ass throw knives in the yard. After the cop arrives they go inside. The camera pans diagonally between him sitting and the cop standing as they have an awkward and tense exchange filled with lots of “man!”.
This was written by The Dude, man.
(I am the Walrus.)
Then, for some reason, we watch Laval at his dojo, fighting a bald, middle-aged dude. Poorly. To a crap drum solo, no less. It’s the worst martial arts ever – even when pitted against his sensei. And then we go to a local bar for a really lame brawl: Laval vs. a dozen lamos in a lame choreography.
I guess Younkins wanted to show off his “mad skills”.
Watch our bargain basement Iommi, Petty, Zappa and Reeves
start a band goof off getting gas. Meanwhile, watch the girls trash talk together, put on some tunes and have a whip cream fight – because that’s what girls do when they’re alone. Maybe Jackson and Younkins couldn’t afford pillows.
In any event, none of them seem too concerned about their friends’ deaths or the danger they’re facing.
Then a red glass-eyed demon pops up at the all-girl party.
When the boys arrive, they find one of the girls pitchforked to a tree. Seriously. Apparently they’d upset a farmer nearby. There’s also the sight of another girl wandering aimlessly in the background, but I believe that this was just an extra caught on camera. Then the guys drive off.
I mean, they call the cops first. But they don’t bother to wait for them or anything.
Maybe they had to go get snacks.
(Actually, they go to Laval’s and meet up with the cop there.)
Then chaos ensues, all to incantations playing in the background: their nerd friend turns on them, shooting a crossbow bolt into Zappa’s leg, who twitches like crazy. Tony Iommi axes the Poor Man’s Tom Petty, then stabs himself. The nerd runs, but bumps into Laval. Bad move. Laval feels chunky.
Thankfully, Damian arrives to save the day!
But get this: The glass-eyed demon attacks Damian who attacks Laval who attacks the cop with his sais. It’s total action insanity!!!! You can’t get more exciting than this!!! Except that it’s poorly-staged and poorly-performed. And then the cop shoots at the demon and it vanishes.
*sound of balloon deflating*
The only moderately decent part of this “motion picture” is the score, which is credited to Don Gutz and Jerry Skolasinski. It’s super cheezy (!) synth that makes John Carpenter’s period music sound modern and that takes some of its cues from his work. Except that it sounds dinky.
But it’s enjoyable.
Like a McDonald’s ice cream: it’s crap, but it’s still satisfying in a weird way.
In any event, ‘The Demon Lover’ has no chance of ever being reconsidered by critics or the public in the future, but it’s strangely entertaining – just not for its intended reasons. It’s really surprising that it hasn’t gained traction in the same way that ‘The Room‘ or ‘Troll 2‘ have.
And, unlike ‘Manos’, at least your soul doesn’t die a little bit watching it.
Date of viewing: October 1, 2016