Demon Wind (1990)
The problem with small video companies finding and restoring forgotten movies is that a lot of those movies deserved to be buried next to all those Atari E.T. cartridges in the middle of the desert. Occasionally Shout Factory or Vinegar Syndrome will dredge up something that falls just short of a masterpiece due to budget or too much ambition, but more often than not these movies aren't even fun to watch just to enjoy how bad they are. So many movies, especially through the 1980s and 1990s, have an interesting enough concept to get someone to rent the video, but no real care when it came to trying to execute the concept.
Demon Wind is no exception. There may be demons, but definitely no wind, and the title unfortunately lends itself to a quick flatulence joke. Writer and director Charles Philip Moore was working on a film called Twisted Nightmare for director Paul Hunt and convinced the production company to let him do his own film. What he came up with was a confusing mix of Night of the Living Dead and The Evil Dead, only with none of the style or skill of George A. Romero or Sam Raimi.
Cory (Eric Larson) and his girlfriend Elaine (Francine Lapensée) take a trip out to find Cory's grandparents' old farm. Though warned away by local gas station owner Harcourt (Rufus Norris) Cory intends to go on, and is soon joined by his friends Dell (Bobby Johnston) and Jack (Mark David Fritsche) and their girlfriends Terri (Lynn Clark) and Bonnie (Sherry Leigh). Arriving right behind them are magician act Stacy (Jack Forcinito) and Chuck (Stephen Quadros). After some time spent between Chuck and Dell chest thumping over Terri, everyone heads to the farm.
Little is still standing, but the door to the old farmhouse leads to an interior in a pocket dimension. Soon everyone realizes their vehicles have stopped running, while attempts to leave on foot just result in a fog bringing them back. They take refuge in the house, which seems to be a remaining spell from Cory's grandmother. Within they find a strange book with ancient writings as well as two daggers, the last of a set of seven, that have the power to kill demons. They definitely need these as the demons that killed Cory's grandparents soon show up and start coming for them. After surviving the night, two more of Cory's friends, Willy (Richard Gabai) and Reena (Mia M. Ruiz) show up and become trapped with them. One by one the demons come for them until, desperate, they use the grandmother's spells to force a faceoff between Cory and the creature behind everything.
There are scenes in this that are literally shot-for-shot lifted from the scenes of the zombies invading the home in Night of the Living Dead, and the grandmother's diary is a barely disguised ripoff of the Necronomicon. The demon makeup is unique, with drippy skin and jagged teeth, but other than being able to talk they pretty much move and act like Romero zombies. The other movie this feels like, with its random events, dimension jumping and terrible line delivery, is Equinox. Unfortunately, Demon Wind doesn't have the great stop-motion and effects work that Equinox had, and at least the latter movie can be forgiven the performances as it was pretty much a student film that managed to get a couple effects guys hired for bigger projects.
A major problem is that there are too many characters in this movie, and more seem to keep showing up on a regular basis. Sure, Chuck the kung-fu magician is kind of cool, but largely we have jocks, bimbos, art kids and the like. It's almost as if Moore at some point forgot he was making a horror film and started writing his own version of The Breakfast Club, and then realized at some point when he got back to the horror part that he'd already hired everyone. Bonnie is gone early, Dell and Terri are annoying. Willie and Reena are barely there. Only Jack offers some dissenting views as the skeptic, while Chuck and Stacy do have a bit of an action scene when drawn out of the safety of the farmhouse by future porn star Tiffany Million. The movie would still be incompetent and mind numbingly bad, but maybe with five characters instead of 9 they could have afforded an actual fog machine - or maybe something to make an actual demonic wind, which would have been more interesting than the shambling hamburger-faced creatures they settled on.
Here and there it is enjoyable to riff on the film, but by and large Demon Wind is a chore to get through, especially when the big bad guy finally shows up and barely a word he says is comprehensible. Unsurprisingly Moore only went on to do three more movies, pretty much all soft-core action flicks, before disappearing. Supposedly this did make money on the drive-in circuit and assumably from video rentals, but I doubt anyone actually saw the film back then as they were probably engaged in other activities at the time. Unfortunately that probably leads to the assumption that some may want to see this now. That would be quite a lesson in what the word "assume" means.
Demon Wind (1990)
Time: 96 minutes
Starring: Eric Larson, Francine Lapensée, Jack Forcinito, Stephen Quadros, Bobby Johnston, Sherry Leigh, Lynn Clark
Director: Charles Philip Moore
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