Wicked Wednesday: The Demon (1979)

The Demon has to be the first South African film I’ve watch for this blog. In fact, outside of District 9, I’m not sure if I have seen any South African-made films before! Set is South Africa with foreign directors (ie Hollywood), sure, but that’s something else entirely.

This movie gave me big Day After Halloween vibes, which incidentally was also released in 1979. The Australian movie was linked to Halloween following the American slasher’s release. And here I saw many bits of publicity sayin that The Demon was a knock-off of Black Christmas. Now, Black Christmas is one of my favourite movies of all time, so any similar vibes were welcome. Alas, there isn’t much linking these two stores besides a few plastic bags.

There are nearly three entirely separate (and unfocused) threads through out this film.

The first follows a family whose daughter gets kidnapped from her bed one night. The parents hire Bill Carson, a psychic detective and former Navy man, to help them find their lost Emily. Or even to just learn if she’s still alive. Bill’s methods are unusual, including drawing the culprit, who has no face, and sitting in Emily’s room moaning.

The kidnapper is also a stalker, following the school teacher Mary.

Mary gets stalked, then gets stalked some more. She’s not very interesting but she’s out final girl, so just like her anyway.

Living with Mary is her younger cousin, Jo. The younger girl has a much less hesitant approach to life. She soon snaps up a wealthy American man to pamper her. Mary disapproves of the relationship, which is fine because both Jo and her boyfriend will get killed anyway.

The three stories seemingly come together when the killer attacks Emily’s dad, triggering a sequence of events including revenge killings and death by bathtub.

There isn’t much here that isn’t standard slasher fare combined with TV-movie drama. I was intrigued to see a South African film, but the shorts were so dark I couldn’t see much of anything. The cast had plenty of Americans in it, but I’m willing to allow it as one of them was Cameron Mitchell (Blood and Black Lace).

I think I would have felt less betrayed by the movie if its selling point was Black Christmas rip-off. Not that I can blame the movie itself for that.

There was one major different between the two stories. In Black Christmas, there were a lot of characters, but you knew who to care about and you cared about them! I was confused as to why so much of the screen time was dedicated to Jo’s love life in The Demon. You end the movie not knowing much about Mary at all other than she’s a teacher. She gets a surprise/convenient boy friend at the end of it, though.

Oh and there are no demons in this, by the way. Just in case you also get betrayed by this movie’s weird marketing.

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