DVD/Blu-Ray Review: Demonoid

Published on November 3rd, 2015 in: Blu-Ray, Current Faves, DVD, DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews, Horror, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Jeffery X Martin

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We provide many public services here at Popshifter, and we do our level best to be fair, accurate, and rigorous when testing entertainment products. We also try to anticipate the needs of our readers. For example, one morning during a high-powered meeting at the round table in the glass corner office of Popshifter International Headquarters, the question was posited: “Which movie about a demon-possessed sentient severed hand should we recommend to our readers, whom we love and cherish?”

It’s a good thing that Vinegar Syndrome, purveyor of fine niche DVDs, has just released an amazing two-disc set of 1980’s Demonoid, one of the craziest body horror movies to come from that decade.

The whole thing revolves around an ancient artifact knows as “The Devil’s Hand.” This piece of Aztec mythology is discovered in a Mexican mine. The locals are terrified, but the mine owner and his wife are pretty pleased with their museum quality find. That is, until the spirit of the hand escapes and infects the mine owner. He promptly blows up the mine and takes off for Vegas, where he heads for the craps tables.

No, wait. It gets better.

The way the evil spirit moves from person to person is through dismemberment. The possessed left hand comes off, one way or another, and sort of grafts itself onto someone else’s left wrist. It’s not really explained well, so you kind of accept what’s going on. That’s how the Caucasian hand can take over an African-American’s left hand and not change color. It’s just that sweet demon-hand osmosis.

The hand wants desparately to attach itself to Samantha Eggar (The Brood), who stumbles through the movie with bug eyes and giant hair. It’s not the best performance, but it doesn’t have to be. She plays it as straight as possible, for a movie about a bloody-stumped hand that crawls around by itself. “Do you believe there is a hand?” she asks Stuart Whitman, who plays a priest sucked into this whole mystery. He looks tired and slightly agitated throughout the whole film, like he’s trying to perfect his Jason Miller impression while the camera is rolling.

There is some unintentional high-larity in Demonoid. There’s a scene in a doctor’s office where the doc, under the influence of Pazuzu or whatever the hell the demon’s name is, sedates Eggar by injecting her with a syringe that is clearly empty. In fact, the guy doesn’t even pretend to be giving her a shot. At one point, Eggar backs dat ass up into the retractable needle. It’s like the doctor just touches her with it, and she screams. There’s one quick moment where you can tell it’s a toy syringe, because you can see fake blood inside of it. It’s ghastly and wonderful.

The set Vinegar Syndrome has produced almost seems better than Demonoid deserves. Not only does it include a remastered version of the US cut, but it includes a restoration of the international cut, known as Macabra. Macabra runs a little longer than Demonoid, features different music and has more violence. Demonoid is a Blu-Ray disc, while Macabra is a regular DVD presentation. The US cut features a gratuitous and senseless scene of nudity at the beginning which the international version does not include.

Because of our concern for you and your viewing enjoyment, I watched both versions of the film, and found the Macabra┬ácut to be a better film overall, even without the blonde girl getting her blouse ripped open by cult members dressed in straight-up KKK outfits. I don’t need that to enjoy a movie, because professionalism.

Despite some wonky action, serious lapses in logic, and acting that wouldn’t cut the muster in a community theater presentation of Our Town, Demonoid/Macabra ends up being a fairly solid entry in the disembodied hand sub-genre of film. Some of the shots of the hand crawling along on its fingertips are pretty unsettling. It’s like the evil twin of Thing from The Addams Family.

This is the kind of movie you show to your friends who enjoy the weirdness in films, the stuff that went under the radar for one reason or another. It’s also far better than Oliver Stone’s The Hand, so stick that in your cheeba and puff it.

Demonoid was reissued by Vinegar Syndrome on October 20.

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