Saturday, April 30, 2011

Demonsoul – review

Director: Elisar Cabrera

Release date: 1995

Contains spoilers

Demonsoul was a micro-budget British film and, well let’s just say in the first instance that it wasn’t great and yet there was something in it that kept me watching – and not just the pathological need to watch everything with a vampire in it!

blood sacrifice
It began with a satanic type ritual, a couple of monks (it turns out later that they’re undead) chanting as a man is led to an altar by a woman, Selena (Eileen Daly, Razor Blade Smile, Wichcraft X: Mistress of the Craft and Sentinels of Darkness). He lies upon it as she straddles him and begins to cut him with a dagger – a blood sacrifice. She turns and looks directly to camera and then we see a woman, Erica Steele (Kerry Norton), bolt wide awake.

in therapy
The next day we see her at her psychiatrist’s (Suzanne Ballantyne) and she tells her that she has had another nightmare and it involved the woman again. She does not know who the woman is but it seemed that she looked to her for approval. Erica asks the psychiatrist about hypnotherapy but she is dismissive, putting it in the same boat as astrology. Back at work and Erica's friend Rosemary (Janine Ulfane) suggests hypnotherapy but she is content to listen to her shrink – despite having nightmare’s every other night.

Eileen Daly as Selena
She heads to a comic book store, her boyfriend Alex (Drew Rhys-Williams) is in the rooms above it. He is kissing Erica’s neck when she spots Selena out on the street. She runs out of the shop but the woman has vanished. Erica then looks back to Alex and sees him in the window in Selena's arms. She runs back to the flat to find Alex and Selena having sex. She awakens from the nightmare and realises that she had fallen asleep, and thus into the dream, whilst Alex held her. She decides to try the hypnotherapist Rosemary spotted in the newspaper.

creepy hypnotherapist
When she gets there she meets a woman (Sue Scadding, also Witchcraft X) who starts talking about past lives and suggests she was a famous actress before (Marilyn Monroe, in fact). The hypnotherapist, Bucher (Daniel Jordan), comes in just before Erica bolts. He is actually a past-life regressionist. He is also a creepy dude who leans in just a little too close, as he puts her under, then suggests that she won’t feel his touch or remember anything as he goes on to molest Erica. In her mind she meets with Selena, who fondles her and calls her mistress.

fangs on show
Okay, long story short, Erica has the soul of a Countess Durna within her. Durna was a vampire and Selena her servant. Erica met Selena as a child (we get flashes to that moment a few times). Durna is trying to take possession of Erica’s body, can cause the woman to sprout fangs every time she is in control, and each drink of blood brings her closer to permanently possessing the body. Bucher realises what he is dealing with and wants to partake of her power. Of course Rosemary and Alex are dragged into it as well.

random vampire girl
There really isn’t too much lore. A bite can turn and, at the end of the film, there are a large number of vampires hanging around the disused church (it would seem to be). Durna's spirit is taking control of Erica's body but it was hard to tell whether the vampire was implanted as an additional spirit within her body (possibly when Selena met her as a child) or whether Erica and Durna were actually one and the same. The twist at the end makes any guesswork on this pointless.

beneath the fanged archway
The acting was generally poor – Kerry Norton made a fair fist of Erica and Eileen Daly is fun to watch – however the rest were pretty darn wooden. There was a fair bit of in-shot microphone work, poor framing and the camcorder quality print leaves a lot to be desired. However, from the director of Witchcraft X we should expect no less.

Yet, despite this, I found myself drawn to the film, whilst all along knowing it was pants. There is a little something – perhaps in the rarely trodden path of vampiric possession. Much better than Witchcraft X – but that isn’t difficult – somehow compelling and yet, ultimately, not a good film. 2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Tom Clark said...

This is one of those movies you watch and think of what could have been. some of the ideas were there, just not the money. or a tight script. still the nerd in my is proud to say i have the vhs as it's one of the most obscure thing's in my collection.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I agree Tom, that some of the ideas were indeed there and as I said in the review I found myself drawn in.

I'm glad the vhs has a good home :)

Tom Clark said...

Not long after I initially commented on your write up of this movie I did one myself for my site. Somehow director Elisar Cabrera stumbled upon on it and I figured I'd share what he wrote:

"Wow, really surprised to see people are still finding and reviewing Demonsoul (total budget $1500 FYI). Rushed, yes it was. 2 week shoot at that budget with that many location changes (why I never listened to the experts that said low budget films should all be set in 1 location)- what was I thinking? But thanks for the kind words. Maybe I might watch it again after all these years thanks to your review.
PS: only found this as it was the first page to come up in Google Images for the cover art! LOL!"

$1500! I know Vista Street, the studio behind Demonsoul not to mention the Witchcraft series were crankin 'em out on the cheap in the 90's but yikes!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Tom, indeed, I have had some surprising comments not least from Christopher Coppola, who thanked me for the negative review and then agreed with it... highlight of that period of time, seriously, it was a great comment.

Unfortunately, in this digital age nothing is likely lost (and I appreciate these films were pre-digital but clearly they were captured and digitised).

I truly appreciate the Elisar Cabrera comment(in general) and, even more, you passing it on. I hope it is appreciated that we appreciate these films (no matter how naff they are) and, actually, both of us saw worthwhile aspects to the film.

Many, many thanks for coming back with the update.

Tom Clark said...

You know, I actually revisited Demonsoul a few months back and I find that I like it more and more. While it's true that the films seems like a missed opportunity at points due to script/budget issues, one thing I can say about the film as I said in my write up is it's ambition, which is more than commendable for a film with such a small budget, which is more than I can say for the last 5 or however many lifeless remakes/found footage gimmick bottom of the barrel garbage that passes itself off as "horror" these day. Give me a choice between Demonsoul and that and I'll chose the former any day of the week!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

fair enough Tom :)