Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Demonsoul (1995)

First off you know your dealing with something just a tad under the radar when you can’t find a picture of the box art bigger than 144x260. Take a second to glace at the box art for a moment. If I had been in a retail store about 17 years ago back when they sold VHS and saw this on the shelf without any prior knowledge of the film, with a cover like that I’d probably think it was the home video version of some post-apocalyptic goth/cyberpunk cartoon MTV or HBO would play at 1 in the morning back in the 90’s or something. It’s also exactly the kind of cover that would make me pick the tape up at the video store and start at it like a jackass for 2 minutes contemplating on whether or not to rent it, all the while knowing in the back of my mind that I would eventually cave in and do so. How the hell could I not?! Anyway, Demonsoul might not be what I described above, but that cover art is kind of misleading, as it’s not the cheesefest the box would lead you to believe. Really, it’s not.

Erica Steele (Kerry Norton) is being plagued by nightmares. Every other night she dreams of a man being dragged into a room by hooded men and ritualistically sacrificed by an alluring, mysterious red headed woman (Eileen Daly), whom Erica also has visions of during the day. After normal therapy does nothing to suppress the nightmares, Erica goes to a  hypnotherapist,  Dr. Bucher, who specializes in “past life regression”. When he’s not busy molesting Erica when she’s under hypnosis, he discovers that Erica led a past life as a vampire, Countess Dana who’s demonic spirit is now trying to take full possession of Erica’s soul, and the red headed woman is Selena, the Countess’ servant. Dr. Bucher’s curiosity and greed get’s the better of him, and he makes an offer with Dana to supply her with the blood needed to strengthen her to fully posses Erica’s body, in exchange for a taste of her power, leaving Erica to fight for the protection of her body and soul on her own.

Demonsoul is the kind of movie you watch and all the while think of what might have been had the filmmakers spent a little more time tightening up the script. There a some really cool idea’s on display, it’s just that they’re not really fleshed out that much, namely the possession angle. There’s really not a lot done with it, and at times the whole thing feels a but rushed. The film is only 82 minutes, and as a result of this it can become confusing at times as to what exactly is going on in certain scenes when it relates to the possession and Erica’s “past life”. There are some cryptic elements regarding the character of Selena at the beginning of the film as well, but I’m guessing that was on purpose, given that she’s supposed to have mysterious connotations.  Still, despite all that, Demonsoul was intriguing enough to keep me interested all the way though. The vampyric possession idea was a good one, even if it’s potential wasn’t fully reached here. The film moves along at a fairly quick pace, gradually getting better as it goes along and gets really good during the final half hour and finale. Most of the confusing loose ends are somewhat tied up as well, which is a good thing as there are crucial elements to the story and Erica’s relationship with Selena, and I can honestly say the ending, while a bit rushed, was unexpected. Kerry Norton is extremely hot and does both the good and evil sides of her character well enough. She’s likable as the “good” Erica and is one of the main reasons why it’s so easy to keep watching the film. Yes, she has a nude scene. Eileen Daly is always great to look at and only hams it up a few times, and yeah, she has a nude scene. There’s actually not that much nudity though, which was surprising considering this is a Vista Street film.

Aesthetically, Demonsoul at times tips it’s hat to the classic sleazy Eurotrash film’s of the 70’s complete with ritual sacrifice and some light lesbian vampire action which I greatly appreciated. This was obviously a super low budget, shot on video production but that’s never a hindrance here. Actually the SOV look gives certain scenes a nice grit to them. In particular Erica’s sacrifice nightmare that the film opens with and the finale. Both scenes were shot in this old abandoned building, it might have been an old church, not sure about that though. Anyway, along with all the biting and whipping going on, the SOV look gives those scenes a gnarly feeling of dirtiness. Very grimy and trashy. You know, they sort of remind me of an old 90’s black metal video. Primitive, yes, but it gives off a vibe, which is always nice to see in a flick with a budget this low. There’s also a scene where a sacrifice victim is mauled by a group of female vampires on the same buildings bathroom floor. All of them wearing bondage outfits. Again, very music videoesque and the whole S&M undertones give off an air of sleaze. It’s not all honky dory though, as like a lot of other SOV movies Demonsoul has it’s share of technical issues. Easily the worst thing about this movie is the audio. Muffled doesn’t even begin to describe it. There are instances where it’s so bad it’s literally impossible to understand any of the dialogue and trying to adjust the volume only makes it more distorted. It’s also inconsistent in it’s shoddiness as well. Often times it will be clear as day and one second later it will drop out you’ll be begging for subtitles. Of course it’s at it’s worst when critical elements of story dealing with the Countess and Selena are being discussed. Beyond irritating.

It’s obvious when you watch a low to no budget film to know when the people involved didn’t give a shit but that’s definitely not the case with Demonsoul, which is more than I can say about the other project Eileen Daly and director Elisar Cabrera worked on together 3 years after this was made (Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft). There really was effort put into this, and I think if the filmmakers had a slightly bigger budget and more time to fully round out the script than this movie might have been less inconsistent. Demonsoul may be a bit uneven and suffer from incredibly bad audio but it had enough going for it to keep me watching and the 82 minutes goes by pretty fast. Sure it’s got it’s amateurish moments as a lot of low budget genre fares do, but honestly, it’s one of the better ones put out by Vista Street Entertainment.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, really surprised to see people are still finding and reviewing Demonsoul (total budget $1500 FYI). Rushed, yes it was. 2 week shoot at that budget with that many location changes (why I never listened to the experts that said low budget films should all be set in 1 location)- what was I thinking? But thanks for the kind words. Maybe I might watch it again after all these years thanks to your review.
    PS: only found this as it was the first page to come up in Google Images for the cover art! LOL!