Cut to the Chase! The Demon

This first article in a new series focusing on great slasher-movie chase scenes looks at 1979’s The Demon, a not-so-hot horror flick with a hotter-than-hot climax. Prepare for disappearing dressing gowns, gratuitous nudity, and the most ingenious use of a showerhead and some bubble bath since MacGyver accidentally wedged himself in his shower cubicle while reaching for the soap… Spoilers ahead!

THE SETUP: Nice schoolteacher Mary (Jennifer Holmes) is home alone, running a bath and, naturally, belting out a hearty rendition of “Show Me the Way to Go Home”. But, before you can say “razor-clawed intruder”, there’s a strange noise and all the lights go out, leaving Mary half-dressed and, even worse, only halfway through the first verse of her performance… What’s a wannabe showgirl to do but throw on a dressing gown and head for the basement to fix those faulty electrics?

THE KILLER REVEAL: After discovering that someone’s not only trashed her neatly-made bed, but also unceremoniously dumped a reading lamp on top of the mattress, Mary finds an even bigger mess in the shape of the bloody body of her housemate, wrapped in plastic and lying quite, quite dead in a downstairs room. And to think she’d only just decluttered! Screaming, Mary runs out into the hallway and straight into the path of a shadowy figure with a mean-looking scowl and a nasty set of razorblades where his fingernails should be…

THE PURSUIT: This being a slasher, Mary decides to run upstairs and into the bedroom, where she spots the perfect hiding place… Under the bed! Unluckily for her, however, the killer’s a pro when it comes to hide-and-seek, and knows exactly where to find her, tearing up the mattress and hurling it across the room, before, um, just standing there as she runs safely out of the door. From here on, however, it’s a full-on cardio workout for Mary as she runs down – and then back up – the stairs, evading the killer by hiding in a succession of different closets while looking for an unlocked exit. The bedroom closet turns out to have a handy hatchway leading to the attic, so Mary does what any sane person in the same situation would do and strips to her panties, before hoisting herself up into the eaves to noisily paw at the roof tiles. Hearing the scrape and clatter of a victim on the verge of escape, the killer clambers up into the attic and grabs Mary by the ankles, causing himself and Mary to fall through the bedroom ceiling and onto the floor below, where the killer’s knocked out just long enough for Mary to bounce gymnastically off the bed and back into the bathroom where the terror began…

THE OUTCOME: Displaying a natural aptitude for prioritizing, Mary quickly fashions a stylish poncho from her shower curtain and twins it with a plastic shower cap to prevent any further damage to her hairstyle from either moisture or crazed killers. But her quick-thinking and invention don’t stop there… Hearing her attacker regaining consciousness in the next room, she grabs the showerhead from the bath and affixes it to the nearest handrail with a wet flannel, thereby creating a lethal water-spout that will sprinkle directly in the face of any intruder! Sure enough, the killer bursts in and is subjected to the full force of Mary’s patented Death Drizzler™, whereupon he’s instantly blinded, and starts skidding on the oil slick of bath products that she’s cleverly sloshed all over the floor. It’s an orgy of blood, violence and sweet pine-scented fragrances, as Mary stabs the killer again and again in the neck with a large pair of scissors, until he collapses, dead but spotlessly clean, in the tub. Hurrah!

THE VERDICT: The only thing scarier than the last 10 minutes of The Demon is the thought of sitting through the first 80… But, as dull as they may be, they’re worth it for the pure joy of what amounts to one of my all-time favourite slasher chase-sequences. It’s creepy, breathless and funny, with inserts of irritated neighbours (“That sounded like breaking glass!”) intercut via witty editing (I laughed out loud at the tease-shot of Mary’s robe slipping down to reveal… the elderly lady next-door climbing into bed!). Interestingly, The Demon also managed to introduce a blade-gloved killer five years before Freddy Krueger and fade out on the screams of its heroine blending with its end-credits music three years before Tenebrae. Not that it’s a masterpiece – far from it – but, as obscure slasher oddities go, this one’s well worth the chase.

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3 Responses to “ Cut to the Chase! The Demon ”

  1. I have to admit this article makes me want to rewatch this but I saw it like 3 years ago and I remember it being very boring and dark.

  2. According to Eccentric Cinema, this movie is getting a proper widescreen DVD release in the near future. Hopefully it will look a lot brighter, I’ve always wanted to see this one.

  3. VCI is releasing a widescreen DVD of this in the fall. I’m going to have to pick it up!

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