TRANSMISSIONS TO EARTH:
DEMON WIND (1990)
DVD Review by L.L. Soares
A house in the middle of nowhere with a horrifying past. A book of spells that maybe shouldn’t be read aloud. People who become possessed by demons. Sure, it’s been done before. Most famously in Sam Raimi’s classic EVIL DEAD (1981), as well as the cult classic, EQUINOX (1970). We even saw a new variation on the idea in this year’s THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. But there have been a lot of other movies with similar plots, and with varying degrees of success. 1990’s DEMON WIND is one of them.
The story begins in 1931. Outside of a farmhouse, there’ s a body burning on a cross and another dead body on the ground. Inside the house, a woman uses a spell to keep the demonically possessed dead out (they’re banging on the door to get in). We can tell they’re possessed because they talk in a weird, demonic voice that is hard to understand. The woman turns to her husband, George, for help, but he suddenly starts puking up oatmeal. Oops, looks like he’s possessed, too! The woman raises a snow globe and says “If the crystal breaks, it’s the end of both of us.” By now, George has huge warts all over his face, tumors have grown on his body, and he has sharp teeth. I guess he’s a full-blown demon! He attacks her, she shatters the globe, and the house blows up.
DEMON WIND then fast forwards to the Present, where Cory (Eric Larson, who, when he was younger, was also in the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA TV series from 1979 – 1980) and his girlfriend Elaine (Francine Lapensee) are arguing as they drive along a road that looks like it’s in the middle of a desert. Since his dad died recently, Cory has been hearing voices telling him to go to his grandparents’ farm.
When they reach a gas station (the sign reads “Harcourt’s Café”), Cory feels like he’s been there before, and we get a look into one of his dreams, where he’s standing naked among the gas pumps and is greeted by his grandmother, covered in blood with her throat torn out.
Shaken up, Cory drives to the gas station, where the old guy who runs the place, Harcourt (Rufus Norris), seems nice until Cory asks how to get to the “Old Carter Place.” Then the guy gets angry (what, ANOTHER spooky gas station attendant? Are they required in every movie like this?!!). He threatens them, then later pleads with them not to go there.
But Cory and Elaine aren’t going alone. It turns out they invited a bunch of friends to tag along. First there’s Dell (Bobby Johnston) and his girlfriend, Terri (Lynn Clark). They’ve also brought along another couple, Jack and Bonnie (Mark David Fritsche and Sherry Bendorf). Dell is the brawny, blond frat boy of the group, and Jack is the brainy guy with glasses. Just when you think this is enough people for a house-warming party, along come Chuck (Stephen Quadros) who shows up in full magician regalia, and his buddy Stacy (Jack Vogel). To complicate matters, Chuck used to date Terri and secretly wants her back, and Dell isn’t too happy about this.
The gang’s all here for DEMON WIND (Facing the camera, from l to r: Francine Lapensee, Sherry Bendorf, Eric Larson, Mark David Fritsche)
As they all drive away from the gas station/cafe, Harcourt says “Damn fools!”
When they get to the farmhouse — or rather, what’s left of it—the first thing they see is the skeleton on the cross in front of the ruins. Then, when Cory touches a skull half-buried in the ground, he gets some kind of a shock and sees visions of his uncle as a kid, running from demons back in 1931.
The ruins of his grandparents’ farm house look like just a façade and a bunch of pieces of wood, but if you go through the front door, you enter a house that is suddenly intact!!
The first time they enter the house, there’s writing on the walls and Bonnie reads something aloud. The house goes crazy, shaking like an earthquake hit it, and bottles and dishes explode. Even a big cooked turkey (without a trace of decay after all these years!) on the dining table explodes! They run out.
A skeleton is there to greet you, in DEMON WIND!
Their cars won’t start, so Cory and the gang leave the house and walk down the only road, intent on finding help. They walk and walk, and when they reach a certain point, they see a fog that blows over them (is this the demon wind of the title?) Suddenly, they’re back at the ruins of Cory’s grandparents’ house! The house won’t let them get away.
Little girls appear talking in demon voices and dressed in vintage dresses. They say “You can’t leave.” One grabs Bonnie and turns her into a porcelain doll. No one seems to be very upset when the doll explodes in flames (doesn’t anyone miss Bonnie??).
It’s getting dark, so Cory tells the others that it will be safe in the house. When they argue with him he says “It was just trying to warn us before. Don’t ask me how, I just know it.”
They explore the house, which has several rooms. Cory and Elaine find Cory’s grandmother’s old diary, which tells of weird, demonic goings-on and offers some helpful spells on how to deal with devils. There are also a couple of magical daggers, which seem to get wasted on minor demons as the movie goes on.
Then even more friends show up! This time it’s Willy (Richard Gabai, who went on to star in tons of movies in 90s like VIRGIN HIGH – 1991, DINOSAUR ISLAND – 1994, and VIRTUAL GIRL – 1998, and continues to work steadily today ) and his girlfriend Reena (Mia M. Ruiz).
They all board up the doors and windows, and, when night falls, angry dead people (no doubt possessed by demons) rise from their graves. One by one, the friends begin to get killed off. Of course, none of them stays dead, as their bodies get possessed and their evil corpses try to kill off more of them. We never do find out who the little girls are. And the house itself becomes more and more menacing, as does a formerly destroyed barn in back that is also suddenly rejuvenated.
The monsters eventually break into the house, but before they can kill Cory and Elaine, they’re called away by a preacher (who looks sort of like Harcourt with grease in his hair), who absorbs them and then turns into a Big Daddy Demon.
- The big daddy of demons from DEMON WIND.
When the big demon comes for them, Cory and Elaine read a spell asking for the “Spirits of Goodness and Peace” to help them, and Cory turns into a big-headed monster who fights for the forces of good! He kind of looks like a dome-headed alien from the old OUTER LIMITS TV series. Super Cory goes up against the ugly, pustulant, evil demon. Some weird monster wrestling ensues.
Cory turns into a “good monster” to fight the king demon in DEMON WIND.
Will Cory and at least some of his friends survive and go home? You’ll have to see DEMON WIND to find out for yourself.
The effects are pretty cheesy for the most part, although some of the monsters look pretty good. The look and feel of this movie reminded me of late 80s/early 90s “scream queen” movies like SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA and NIGHTMARE SISTERS (both directed by David DeCouteau and both from 1988), but this one is played completely straight and even though not much in this movie makes logical sense, it still works at times, in some bizarre way. It was directed by Charles Philip Moore, who also gave us ANGEL OF DESTRUCTION (1994) and the 1995 remake of NOT OF THIS EARTH.
Eric Larson does a good job as the hero, Cory, but Francine Lapansee as Elaine is the best actor here. The rest of the cast is likable enough, considering they’re just so much demon fodder.
DEMON WIND is not a great movie by any stretch, but if you like this sort of thing, you might just enjoy yourself. I don’t think it was scary at all, but there were several scenes that made me chuckle, and a few that were almost effective.
© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares
(Special thanks to Henry Snider for suggesting this one)