Monday, January 16, 2017

"Don't Bother Looking for the Key. There's No Door" - Demonwarp (1988) - Part 1 of 3

I must make another note about the differences between your primitive Universe-X and my more advanced universe. This new comment will join my previous observations about the differences between universes, namely that your nights are considerably darker than ours, you use an incorrect word to describe convoluted Italian thrillers, and your men of the cloth choose their religious denomination at a different time. My latest observation is that in your universe, bigfoot films are not highly respected works of art. I need only point out the names of the classic bigfoot films covered here—Shriek of the Mutilated and Night of the Demon—to prove the error of your universe’s lack of reverence for the genre. And I need add only one more classic title, the subject of our next discussion, 1988’s Demonwarp, the story of a bigfoot from space (more or less).

Your universe's critics extend their irrational bias against bigfoot films to Demonwarp. The_StarWolf on IMDB writes, “this confused mess definitely ranks (literally) right down there with some of the worst.” GorgonHeep, also on IMDB, writes: “the acting ability portrayed in Demonwarp is pretty poor. You'll notice it especially when two or more characters are arguing in the film (it actually happens quite often). Although technically their words are focused on the same subject, their portrayed emotions are so different (sometimes really hokey and lame) that you would think they're arguing about two separate things.” Finally, Tikkin, again on IMDB, writes, “To be fair Demonwarp isn't the worst film I've seen (I've just seen Night Of The Demon and survived) but it is pretty dire. It starts off OK (as many films do) but it soon becomes clear what we're dealing with - a mostly boring and silly film that isn't going very far.” (I found it shocking that Tikkin slanders both Night of the Demon and Demonwarp in the same negative review.)

As always, the description below contains spoilers.

The film has a compelling and highly original opening: A mysterious object falls from outer space to the earth. It is sometime in the 19th century. A man leads his horse through the mountains while reading from the Bible. The man witnesses the object fall to earth and create a massive crater. He believes it is the Lord returning to earth. Holding his crucifix, he steps toward the crater and the mysterious fallen object.

The film then moves to modern times. In a cabin in the woods, Academy Award winner George Kennedy and his daughter play Trivial Pursuit. George Kennedy is a quirky old man, with a button missing from his shirt and a mismatched pair of socks.

Outside, the camera moves along a road, accompanied by a growling noise.

George Kennedy hears the growling from inside his cabin. He moves to the door--and suddenly a creature with silky black fur crashes through the door, kidnaps Mr. Kennedy's daughter, and leaves Mr. Kennedy on the floor to die.


We next follow five young people--the traditional contingent of three men and two women--as they drive through the woods. They helpfully provide a great deal of exposition: one of the men's Uncle Clem owns most of the woods and rents out a cabin; vacationers were attacked in these woods recently; and the forest is nicknamed "the Woods of Hell." Then they reach George Kennedy's cabin.

"Don't bother looking for the key," says one of the women with a chuckle. "There's no door."

Taking the lack of a front door as a sign that everything is all right, the friends play a rock song on a boom box and dance their way into the cabin.

Inside, the cabin looks vandalized. They begin cleaning up.

In the second of the film's clever innovations (the first being the mysterious object falling from the sky), the young people are revealed to be not clueless vacationers but bigfoot hunters with sophisticated electronic equipment, which includes electronic surveillance and recording gadgets as well as, for some unknown reason, a bigfoot (or possibly gorilla) mask.

The group is startled to hear a gunshot and the voice of Academy Award winner George Kennedy from outside the cabin. They scramble outside, toward the sound of the gunshot. Mr. Kennedy explains that he rented the cabin from Jack's Uncle Clem but that something terrible happened. He warns the young people that they should leave and never return. "There's a thing out here. It took my little girl. I wasn't prepared to stop it then, but I'm gonna stop it now."

Mr. Kennedy leaves. Night falls. The bigfoot hunters make their plans. As we learned in Shriek of the Mutilated, if there is one thing bigfoot or yeti hunters need, it's an annotated map.


Jack reveals that he has been lying to his friends. He has failed to inform then that his Uncle Clem disappeared in the forest two weeks ago. The purpose of the trip, including the bigfoot hunting equipment, is to find Jack's uncle.

Of course, everyone supports their friend, who now wears glasses to demonstrate his seriousness. They volunteer to help find Uncle Clem and to carry guns while doing so.

At night, Tom the joker and Fred decide to play a joke on Fred's girlfriend Cindy. When she gets out of the shower, Fred is outside the cabin wearing a gorilla mask and looking in through the massive curtain-less window, while pointing an industrial flashlight at himself.

Cindy, wearing only a towel, runs to Tom, who tells her it was just a joke. She starts hitting Tom, but he manages to calm her down while rubbing her shoulders inappropriately.

Meanwhile, outside, the actual bigfoot strolls onto the front porch. Fred, who has not removed his gorilla mask for unspecified reasons, pounds on the cabin's front door, which did not even exist earlier in the day.

Fred's knocking stops. The others step outside to see what has happened. They find the bloody flashlight. They also find that their truck's engine has been torn apart. They return to the cabin to find a shotgun and a pistol.

A hairy hand reaches to push open the door. Jack fires the pistol but it is useless. The bigfoot breaks into the cabin...again.

The monster attempts to reenact the climactic sequence of Night of the Demon, but it is able to graphically murder only one of the young people--Tom, whose neck is snapped.

Jack, lying on the floor in his flower pajamas, points his pistol at the creature but is mysteriously unable to fire, though he previously shot at the monster when it was breaking into the cabin. Carrie screams at him to shoot the beast.

The creature picks up a toaster and leaves the cabin.

Cindy is distraught, having probably lost her boyfriend Fred as well as Tom, who was groping her only minutes earlier. The three survivors attempt to get some sleep, but it is not easy given the lack of a door and the existence of a murderous bigfoot armed with a toaster in the forest outside.

We will end Part 1 of our bigfoot investigation here. Stay tuned for Part 2, in which new characters will be introduced...and murdered [spoiler].