Demon Cop (1990)

Directed by Rocco Karega

A doctor from the Ravenwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane rifles a few manila folders. He smokes a cigarette and looks at the camera.

“These are the files of the damned—the stories of those depraved souls who found life to be a fantasy, and nightmares to be reality. . . . These are the kinds of tales that drove Edgar Allan Poe to the brink of madness.” He quotes from a poem by Poe:

“Is all that we see or seem/But a dream within a dream?”

The poem is about distinguishing between reality and fantasy and watching life slip away. In high school I thought this poem was some deep, powerful shit. But I realize now Poe probably wrote it when he was drunk out of his mind. The poem feels like the ranting of a very sad and very drunk uncle who unknowingly says something kind of meaningful, but then passes out in his own vomit and wakes up confused. He yells at everyone, sobs hysterically, and wonders why he’s wearing someone else’s clothes. (This happened to Poe.)

This movie is the SOV version of that drunk uncle, except without the meaningful moments or the hysterics or the vomit. So what you really get is an annoying dude who’s slurring his words and spilling shit all over your house.

A man in white sneakers runs frantically and gets hit by a car.

Meanwhile, a radio DJ talks about a series of brutal killings of homeless people in Aurora Hills. The murders are gang-related.

Or are they?

A shirtless man with significant man-boobs that cascade over his protruding belly calls the radio station. He’s pissed. The DJ didn’t make the correct announcement. His name is Bloodhound and he has an accent that’s supposedly German.

Suddenly there’s a close-up of a drooling mouth with fangs.
Suddenly, a group of guys talk about a lunatic going berserk and killing a dog, something we should see but don’t because it happens off-screen.
Suddenly, a woman gets attacked by some guy named Edward, something we should see but don’t because it happens off-screen.
Suddenly a guy drives around aimlessly, something we shouldn’t see but do. It is endless.

At some point you think these scenes will come together to form a narrative. You’re not even expecting the narrative to be cohesive. Just something that makes enough sense for you to follow along and wait for the movie’s namesake to appear. But the scenes keep coming in separate pieces, out of sequence. There are flashbacks and flashforwards and re-enactments and confusing revelations. Most of the story is told in voiceover or exhausting explanations by a random character you definitely want to slap. After an hour I figured out the basic premise: A cop has received a bad blood transfusion that is now turning him into a demon.

“This disease makes AIDS look like the common cold!”

This seems like an amazing premise. Good cop turned demon. You expect gore and violence. You expect at least one head to be torn off. But what you get is a scene where someone talks into a tape recorder. You get a startling number of establishing shots of a Doubletree Hotel. You get a gang member talking about how much his parents loved him. You get a woman writing in her diary. You get many, many, many close-ups of eyes and mouths.

While there’s no gore, the demon make-up is quite accomplished. However, there’s just a scanty few minutes of demon screen time. Most of the movie is about trying to find the origins of the disease that causes the demon cop to become, well, a demon. Newsflash: No one cares. Not one. What we want is a demon doing what demons do best. But instead we have to watch a blonde lady trying to convince us that she was in a gang.

At some point two non-demon cops search through an abandoned garage.

“What the hell is that smell in here?”

The answer is right in front of their faces: This movie.