Unrated - Cinema of the Extreme

This value for money DVD from Shock-O-Rama Cinema includes two low budget films that are related by way of John Gonzalez, co-producer for main feature DEMONESS (1998) and co-director for the 23 minute short Y2K: SHUTDOWN DETECTED (1999) included in the package as an extra.

DEMONESS is a 16-mm production directed by Glynn Beard, (who also serves as co-producer), that kicks off with a credits sequence that introduces us to Jim Barton (Beard) undergoing psychiatric questioning at a mental institution following charges of mass murder. Jim hasn’t spoken for a year but finally relates how he once besotted with his wife, Teresa (Margaret Erin Easley), the tale of how his obsession with led to her leaving him and the supernatural events that followed.

The film flashes back to the period just after the couple’s split and Jim enlists the aid of an old witch who recounts the legend of a woman called “The Crier”, murdered in the woods some three hundred years ago and sells him a magical perfume that when worn by a woman makes them fall instantly in love with him. When Jim asks for reassurance of its properties he is told “You will get what you need with the help of The Cryer”.

Jim approaches the house of his ex with the gift of the perfume and within hours they are re-united, much to the surprise of friends invited to a party to celebrate their reconciliation. But Jim and Teresa’s guests are further alarmed as a series of nightmares, premonitions and eerie encounters concerning a strange raven haired woman in white who wanders the woods around Jim and Teresa’s house sobbing.

As the celebrations get underway, suspicions concerning the relevance of ’The Cryer’ myth and various sightings and dreams experienced by the guests draw them into the woods, and they are violently murdered one by one.

Despite its low budget, DEMONESS is fairly well acted, and its sharp-lens photography, forest location and interesting visual effects remind one of a toned down EVIL DEAD. The only problem I have with the film is The Cryer’s witch make-up that looks cheesy to say the least, the script is well written and tightly paced without having to rely on an un-inspired hook-nosed hag to add further chills to proceedings. The gore sequences involving a torn out heart and throat slashing are executed nicely, though the same cannot be said of the KILLER TONGUE style effect that strangles one character – no matter how much it improves on the Alberto Sciamma film.

The second feature on the DVD is the more accomplished piece. Y2K: SHUTDOWN DETECTED was co-directed by John Gonzales, Slava Siderman and Trent Sumway and for a shooting budget of $2,100 (US) you won’t find a film with higher production values. This highly polished short is a frantically paced, high-tech horror film with some great special effects, shot with a variety of camera angles, filters and with some innovative CGI that impressed me highly.

It’s less than an hour to go before the Year 2000 kicks in, and the bosses at Kirtland Biotech are desperate to avoid the expected catastrophe of the Y2K bug, as the clock ticks away a highly paid hacker is attempting to ensure the companies huge computer system that controls virtually every operation in the building is not affected – alas he fails. Staff find themselves locked in, their security codes are not recognized, and the system re-invents itself as an alien predator that must wipe out everything it sees as a threat. First a huge gelatinous creature is created to sample genetic life in the building that engulf an employee. Further processes are set in action to destroy and reanimate another worker that is utilised as a flesh eating zombie to prey on the remaining staff. The computer also generates a mutant lifeforce in order to impregnate a female member of staff with a new strain of biological seed that will give rise to an alien breed.

The zombie effects are excellent as is the Slime Creature (created with the use of black bin liners and CGI). Good acting, arresting visuals and a furious industrial soundtrack make this short stand head and shoulders above 99% of small budget productions.

This film alone makes the DVD worth purchasing but extras include a documentary on the making of Y2K – which proves very illuminating and an audio commentary for DEMONESS supplied by Beard and producer Gonzales, trailers for both movies (the Y2K one includes several scenes cut from the final version) and the Shock Trailer Vault included on their recent releases. Recommended.

Carl T. Ford

DEMONESS Directed by Glynn Beard

English language

USA / 1998 / 82 minutes

Y2K:SHUTDOWN DETECTED Directed by Trent Shumway, Slava Siderman, and John Gonzales

USA / 1999 / 23 minutes

Demoness Audio Commentary with Director Beard and producer Gonzales
Making of Y2K featurette
Trailers for DEMONESS and Y2K
Shock-O-Rama trailer Vault
Interactive Menus

A Shock-O-Rama Cinema DVD Release

All Region. NTSC. Mono. Full Frame 1.33:1


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