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Demonoid (1981)

Directed by Alfred Zacharias
Media Home Entertainment VHS

A well-done car chase can be a thing of beauty. The Rockford Files has a few great ones. The original Gone in 60 Seconds is a work of car smashing art. Freebie and the Bean has several killer chases in it. We all have our favorites. I like to watch the precision driving that goes into a well-executed car chase. I love those moments when things clearly have gotten out of hand. For example, a car hitting a camera. Or a car smashing into a light post and bringing it down. A boring car chase is a big shrug. A good one is worth watching twice. Demonoid  has a pretty good car chase in it around the 50 minute mark. In fact, it’s one of the few things I remember about the movie. The chase ends with an excellent stunt. A man in a convertible climbs out of the car and grabs onto a passing train. Nice. Then, the man places his demon possessed hand on the tracks. The passing train severs it. The disembodied hand gets up and grabs the bottom of the train, hitching a ride. A movie about a hobo hand riding the rails, meeting other appendages and ending up running a carnival is a great idea.

Demonoid isn’t that great. An ancient demon hand is found in a mine in Guanajuato, Mexico. A couple, Mark and Jennifer, bring the hand out of the mine. The evil archeological find causes people’s hands to become possessed, accompanied by subliminal flashes of a demon standing with a sword upraised. The possessed proceed to wreck some havoc and then do what they can do to sever the hand from their body. The demon then passes to another hand. A year before this movie, The Children gave us killer hands on kids. Now, they’re on the grown-ups. If only Demonoid had had a backwoods Sheriff armed with a sword and severing hands like in The Children, then I think I really would have enjoyed this movie.

It’s all a bit monotonous. The occasional demon hand moments are fun. But, there’s never any drive to it. It just goes trots one scene to another. Jennifer and a priest argue about demons and demonic hands. Then, someone else is possessed. More arguing, more possession. It feels like a 1970s made-for-TV horror film except, generally, those were pacier and more fun to watch. Demonoid has gore, violence and some boobs. But, apart from that, it’s a rather tedious demon possession movie with a great title and lots of killer hands running around.

I mentioned boobs earlier. The boobs are in the pre-credits sequence. That, apart from the car chase, was my favorite part. I didn’t notice it until the second viewing but I don’t think the opening three minutes of Demonoid were made in conjunction with the rest of the film. A bunch of monks sever the demon hand of a woman. That ties in to the rest of the movie. But, first, there is nudity. No sign of nudity in the rest of the movie. And, it’s very gratuitous, as in boobs fall out of a robe when the woman is chained to a wall. The big difference though is the music.

The bulk of the film is scored with a lot of horns and strings. It sounds a lot like a typical 70s cop show/ mystery show/ TV movie score. The opening three minutes, however, are scored with synths. It sounds a lot like they’re playing a slowed down version of the Blood Song theme. And, it’s great. Monks, gore, boobs, violence, synths. They sure fooled me. Five minutes later, I was hoping that the synths would suddenly reappear and make my day. They didn’t. I stopped paying attention soon after that.

I think Demonoid  would make the perfect double feature with Beyond Evil. Both of them have actors you’ll recognize and some moments that are fun. But, they’re mostly lackluster journeys.  A good car chase, some high hilarity with severed hands, a great opening, and a rather surprising closing scene make Demonoid almost worth watching. But, unless you’re a nut for killer hand movies, don’t rush after this one. Watch The Children instead. It’s more fun watching kids get their hands cut off. I don’t know why. It just is.