Synopsis: The film chronicles filmmaker Joel DeMott, significant other/film partner Jeff Kreines and filmmaker Mark Rance as they head to Michigan to make a low budget horror film.
Demon Lover Diary 7.25
eyelights: its candid look at the making of ‘The Demon Lover’.
eyesores: its abrupt non-ending.
“The director shouldn’t be carrying anything; I’m carrying the weight of the whole film.”
‘The Demon Lover‘ is a 1977 no-budget horror movie that has barely seen the light of day but that’s gained some minor renown for its ineptitude; it’s one of those so-bad-it’s-good type pictures that late-night movie fans tend to love.
Think ‘The Room‘ or ‘Troll 2‘.
‘Demon Lover Diary’ is a behind-the-scenes documentary on its making. Shot in 1975 by Joel DeMott, it serves to highlight the disarray that plagued the film’s production, which was bursting with amateurs and talentless hacks.
At the time of its making, DeMott was the girlfriend of ‘The Demon Lover’ cinematographer Jeff Kreines. She tagged along with him and his buddy Mark Rance, who acted as the soundman, bringing her own camera as well.
This was the cause of tensions right at the onset, with co-writer, co-director and star Jerry Younkins objecting strongly. And given that the trio had arrived a couple of days late, delaying the production, it didn’t bode well.
This created two factions right from the onset, with a fragile peace being negotiated between co-writer and co-director Don Jackson and Kreines over who got to come along, what the accommodations would be, …etc.
It was a peace that would not last.
Soon Kreines and company would be at odds with the filmmakers again, criticizing the lack of organization on the production, complaining about not being paid for their expenses, and even singing “Demon Lovers Suck” together.
Meanwhile, Jackson and Younkins were deluded egotists who felt they were arteests making a masterpiece. Jackson boasted to local media that they were making the best indie movie ever; it would be controversial but respected.
They so believed in their film that Younkins chopped off a finger to finance the film with the subsequent insurance money and Jackson went on sick leave, mortgaged all of his belonging, and lied to his mom in order to use her home.
Yeah, winners. All of them: none of them come off unstained.
The documentary is filled with amusing behind-the-scenes nuggets that serve to highlight the level of ineptitude involved here. Case-in-point:
- Younkins is coaching the actresses. He’s telling them that they have to make the room “cold” – the audience has to feel it.
- Kreines freaks out because the actresses tossed whipped cream everywhere including on his equipment. Understandable, but a bit over-the-top.
- Kreines tells Jackson he’s too disorganized, so Jackson asks him for advice on how to shoot the picture. He even offers him 1000$ extra for the help. When Kreines agrees, Jackson begins to lean on him.
- Somehow the filmmakers managed to land Ted Nugent’s home as a location. But he lends them real guns for the scene, which makes DeMott nervous as all get out. Seriously, they got to use Nugent’s home?
By the end of ‘Demon Lovers Diary’, our trio is skipping town, running from other crew members, whom they claim are chasing them with guns. It’s an unsurprisingly paranoid finale to a stressful and disorganized journey to Michigan.
Though this is not a great documentary by any measure, it was really fascinating to watch it right after seeing ‘The Demon Lover’, being witness to the wide chasm between the filmmakers’ intentions and the actual end result.
I mean, any endeavour requiring dozens of people can be demanding and chaotic. That Jackson and Younkins were making their first motion picture and had no prior filmmaking background exacerbated matters considerably.
It really looks and feels like amateur hour.
But even ‘Demon Lover Diary’ comes off as amateurish: cut in three parts by b+w countdown reels, with an abrupt non-ending, it give the impression of something merely cobbled together, as though there was never a plan for it.
…which, ultimately, seems quite fitting given its subject.
Date of viewing: October 1, 2016
Old school classic