Demon Queen (1986)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

A succubus rubs the crotch of a man who is not interested in having his crotch rubbed. Thirty seconds later, guts are smeared on boobs. Prepare to win!

My expectations are not high when it comes to the SOV legacy of Donald Farmer. After watching Cannibal Hookers or Scream Dream, I expect nothing but chintzy gore, sex between people who have (possibly) never had sex in their lives, and a moderate sampling of the world’s shittiest synth-pop. These are the things that Farmer likes. These are the things that Farmer delivers. Every so often, he’ll throw in some VFW ass-metal or a “YA DUMB FUCK!” to spice up the boring parts. But in general, my low expectations are always met. In the case of Demon Queen, Farmer’s debut film, they’re exceeded.

The loose structure, revolving around the Demon Queen and her relationship with a drug dealer, seems like an afterthought. There’s no recognizable plot, and even less of an explanation. Demon is assembled and presented as a “movie”; one like any other in the Farmer canon. But it slowly devolves. Gore and uncomfortable sex give way to a series of no-fi video experiments, accented with neon overlays and one-note synth droning. This style is alien to the rest of Farmer’s work. Like Tim Ritter’s Day Of The Reaper, Demon finds a first-time filmmaker utilizing the fundamentals of backyard horror as a basis for dreamy disengagement. But unlike Reaper, Demon has a better chance of entertaining viewers who are not me.

Somehow, Demon Queen moves fast. Even during explorations of a mall food court or psychotropic dream sequences. Farmer always gives us something to grasp onto, an unpredictable hook that keeps us engaged. It’s something we don’t find in his other SOV sex-gore films, but it’s something we’d hope to find in every SOV sex-gore film. From ma ’n’ pa video store visits to blasts of musique concrete audio experiments, Demon wins. It’s not expected. That’s why it works so well.

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