Thursday, January 29, 2015

SOV sleaze: Donald Farmer's DEMON QUEEN

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Review by Alan Spencer

Director: Donald Farmer

Cast: Mary Fanard, Dennis Stewart, Cliff Dance, David Blood

Massacre Video / Unrated / All Regions / 1.33:1 Full Screen / English Stereo / 54 minutes

Extras: Interview with Director Donald Framer / Stills Gallery / Reversible Cover / Liner Notes / Trailers

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It's hard to say why I became a fan of shot-on-video horror from the 1980s. The stinking sewer of a sub-genre can be hard to watch. Seriously. Nobody can act. The special effects are terrible. The video quality is on par with a family movie or a second generation amateur porno rental. Editing, direction, and storylines are non-existent. With that said, I feel like today's fans are the benefactors of serious cherry picking. Old school fans turned movie distributors have resurrected the crème de la crème and lovingly put these obscure titles on DVD. After watching some of the best examples of '80s SOV horror like Sledgehammer, Video Violence 1 and 2, Nail Gun Massacre, Wood Chipper Massacre, and The Nosepicker (aka The Changer), I realized some of these cult movies had a little more going on than their merit-deficient counterparts.

Donald Farmer's Demon Queen plot is very simple; Jesse, a drug dealer, sold some bad cocaine to a pair of drug thugs. These drug thugs don't appreciate the bad product and decide to kill Jesse. Lucky for Jesse, out of nowhere walks in our female protagonist, the "demon queen", who saves Jesse by eating one of the drug thugs. To thank this stranger named Lucinda, Jesse lets this woman hide out at his apartment with his girlfriend. From there, things go everywhere and nowhere. Mostly nowhere. Lucinda, coming from God knows where with no origin story, spends most of the movie stalking (and seriously padding our feature's running time), killing, and turning the people around Jesse into zombie-like people.

Why, who knows? And what is Lucinda anyway? Nobody actually states what she is in the movie. She could be a vampire queen, a zombie queen, a cannibal queen, a nudie booby queen, or a succubus queen. If it weren't for the film's tile, I'd have no way of guessing she was an actual demon queen. Whatever. Jesse suffers long dream sequences where Lucinda bares her boobs, eats him, and licks blood from his body for waaaaay too long all to drag out the feature's running time. Jesse's slow to figure out there's something wrong with this woman. He's a confused idiot who doesn't do much of anything except freak out and be scared throughout the movie. The story randomly throws in two scenes at a video store where a clerk rants about the recent local killings and society's current need for violence in movies. These scenes don't really elevate the plot at all, though it was cool to see a video store from the '80s.

Sadly, the film quality is so oversaturated by light you can't see the VHS movies on the shelf. Believe me, I paused the movie and really tried. I don't know how to give you a rundown of this movie. Not a lot really happens. The movie has its gory moments, nudity, but it's mostly filler, and for a fifty-four minute movie, that's not a good thing. Demon Queen comes off as a practice run for a movie more than an actual movie. It's a shame, because if you would've removed the boring filler, what was left would've been fairly entertaining. It's also a shame, because only ten minutes would be left to watch. The extras on this package are a tad lean. The interview with director Donald Farmer explains how the movie was shot in four days with a two thousand dollar budget, though most of the money was spent to pay the women who bared their assets. Also interesting is Donald Farmer's explanation of why Demon Queen cover features the same artwork from Umberto Lenzi's Nightmare City.

I enjoyed the brief stills gallery. Those pictures look a hell of a lot better than the actual movie itself. I would've loved a commentary track. I mean the movie's only fifty-four minutes for God's sake. Come on! With SOV films, you can't really restore the movie's image quality. I'll admit, Massacre Video probably didn't have much to work with here. Scenes are oversaturated with light and the detail are fuzzy. A great example of this is the mall scene where the demon queen stalks a dude smoking a cigarette in a food court. You can't read any of the store signs at the mall, because everything's so bleary. It's like you're watching this through a beer mug. There's also a lot of audio skips. This only adds to the vintage fun, if you ask me. Those of you who've seen enough SOV horror to know what they're getting into will accept Demon Queen for its plethora of faults and general pointlessness. It's also not a good place to start if you're new to the genre. For tried and true SOV fans only.

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