“Enter a prime-evil world of future shock and alien terror.”
In the weird and wild world of VHS entertainment, anything goes. Mind-bending slabs of magnetic magic like Michael Bolton’s Winning Softball and Howard Stern’s Butt Bongo Fiesta (in glorious 3D!) surely exemplify the notion of unbridled analog insanity, but when it comes to a prime slice of home video horror guaranteed to warp your gourd, no other film is more apt to wear the totally rewind-weird title belt than the marvelously mixed-up 1988 monster flick DEMONWARP.
Welcome to Demonwood: a mysterious and seemingly damned piece of land crawling with strange sightings of nearly every variety, including UFOs, shadowy misshapen creatures and, as we come to find out, one butt-ugly Bigfoot. After a curious crash landing is witnessed by an impressionable priest, the film then blasts off with a bodaciously violent break-in/abduction by that nasty Bigfoot. The ordeal robs Bill Crafton (George Kennedy) of his beloved daughter Julie and leaves him bereft, beaten and bloody on the floor. We’re then introduced to a group of teenagers who arrive in Demonwood shortly thereafter to investigate the rash of eerie encounters and resultant disappearances, with an emphasis on the leading teen’s Uncle who never made it back from his last trip.
The kids get settled in, gratuitous boobies pop out intermittently and the Bigfoot homes in to reignite his brutality with the start of a neck-snapping killing spree. The remaining teens give chase through the woods as they team up with Crafton to try and slay the beast, inciting a nice helping of gore which includes a bad-ass brute force decapitation from the six-foot fleabag himself! It’s also of note that salacious scream queen Michelle Bauer (and her breasts) make an appearance as she displays the only way to beat those pesky tan lines!
Demonwarp then goes from backwoods Bigfoot flick to full-on batshit. The third act employs an unexpected twist transmutation, an undead army of technology-snatching slimeballs, some racy ritual sacrifice and a demonic alien overlord that has been orchestrating all of these uncanny happenings in order to help revive his stranded spaceship. You just gotta see it to believe it, man.
Cult flick favorite George Kennedy is sure to please genre fans here as he gives an able and endearing performance as the vengeful father figure, but my personal favorite moments from the players are provided by Billy Jayne (AKA Billy Jacoby) who you may recognize from other 80s cult classics such as JUST ONE OF THE GUYS and THE BEASTMASTER. His wisecracking vibe and cool dude attitude offer a welcome dose of comedic relief in-between the inundation of amazing absurdity.
Made for only $250,000, DEMONWARP was Vidmark’s foray into in-house film production and was funded by an original Vidmark investor named Richard L. Albert through his advertising company called Design Projects Incorporated. The key investors in Vidmark also had stock in the rental chain 20/20 Video, so they were able to use their numbers to help project their minimum sales, and with the addition of international sales and TV station purchases, DEMONWARP ended up making a hearty profit for Vidmark. The success of this film assisted in their transition to become Trimark, a company who would ultimately merge with Lions Gate Entertainment, where the film’s ownership presumably lies. Until Lionsgate decides to dust this bad boy off and commit it to digital means, the best way to experience the utter insanity of DEMONWARP is by feeding it to your VCR. It’ll probably cost you around 50 bucks, but if I do VHSay so myself, it’s worth every prime-evil penny.
Bonus: Watch for one of the zombies wearing a Residents shirt! Radical.