The Demon (1979 film)

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The Demon
The Demon, 1979 film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPercival Rubens
Written byPercival Rubens
Produced byPercival Rubens
David Dalling
StarringCameron Mitchell
Jennifer Holmes
Craig Gardner
Zoli Marki
CinematographyVincent G. Cox
Edited byPatty Farah
Music byNick Labuschagne
Production
companies
Gold Key Entertainment
Hollard Productions
Percival Rubens Films
Distributed byGold Key Entertainment
S.J. International Pictures
Release date
  • March 1, 1981 (1981-03-01) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes
CountrySouth Africa
LanguageEnglish

The Demon (also known as Midnight Caller) is a 1981 South-African slasher film starring Cameron Mitchell and Jennifer Holmes and directed by Percival Rubens. The South African film was released in 1981.

Plot[edit]

Fourteen-year-old Emily Parker (Ashleigh Sendin) is kidnapped from her rural home and murdered by a faceless, heavy-breathing maniac with black leather razor-blade tipped gloves. Later, the maniac hitchhikes to the city with a gregarious truck driver (John Parsonson). The maniac kills the truck driver, steals his cash, and takes up residence at "Baron Court"- a shady tenement hotel in Johannesburg's Doornfontein neighborhood.

Two months later, Emily's parents— frustrated by the failure of law enforcement officials to either locate Emily or identify her attacker— enlist in the help of Bill Carson (Cameron Mitchell), a retired Colonel in the U.S. Marines who now works as a freelance psychic detective. Joan Parker (Moira Winslow), the distraught mother, needs to know whether Emily is alive or dead- but the angry Mr. Parker (Peter J. Elliot) is preoccupied with bloody revenge and aggressively implores Col. Carson to find the man responsible. Carson gravely intones that the entity they seek is "an aberration of the species. Something hallucinating evil"— and warns the Parkers that it would be best if they didn't find him.

Meanwhile—for reasons left unclear—the maniac decides to fixate on a young, American pre-school teacher named Mary Jones (Jennifer Holmes), who shares a two-story bungalow in Johannesburg's Saxonwold neighborhood with her 18-year-old Afrikaner cousin, Jo (Zoli Marki). Mary first sees the elusive maniac lurking outside her classroom —disappearing and re-appearing in the fog—and later, spying on her at the mall.

When not stalking Mary, the maniac holes up in his hotel room—doing push-ups, growling, and tearing up girly magazines. He also prowls Johannesburg's Hillbrow district at night, attacking various women.

Soon, Jo finds herself embroiled in a hot-and-heavy affair with wealthy American playboy Dean Turner (Craig Gardner) — much to Mary's chagrin. While Jo is being wined and dined, Mary first finds herself threatened by heavy breathing phone calls — and then by menacing knocks at the door. Even her neighbor, Dr. Stuart (George Korelin), turns up with his "trusty .38 Special" to have a face-down with the attacker — but by then, he's vanished. Mary tries to confide in Jo that she feels terrorized, but Jo — distracted by her budding relationship with Dean — dismisses it as Mary's being "all alone in this big house."

Col. Carson continues to assist the Parkers in their search for Emily and the maniac. Carson produces some crude sketches of the maniac (minus a face), and is able to locate the maniac's hideout. However, Carson warns Mr. Parker that if he attempts to take justice into his own hands, it'll end badly. Ignoring his warning, the vengeance-obsessed Mr. Parker confronts the maniac at his hotel. The maniac promptly breaks Mr. Parker's neck, and tosses his lifeless body off a balcony.

Emily's skeleton is finally discovered by children playing in the woods behind her house. Col. Carson visits a now-hostile Joan Parker to offer condolences for both her daughter and husband —as well as to inform her that, "the time of the Demon, our Demon, is drawing close." However, the suspicious Joan coldly accuses Col. Carson of masterminding the entire thing—the kidnapping and murder of her daughter, her husband's death—as a way to further perpetuate his own shameless career as a hoax psychic. Then she shoots him dead square between the eyes.

That night, Mary and Jo go on respective dates with their significant others while the newly christened "Demon" prepares for his final onslaught. Mary confides to her boyfriend, Bobby (Mark Tanous), that she's "been on edge lately," menaced by a creep hanging around outside her pre-school classroom, and possibly stalking the house at night. Bobby agrees to drive her home. Meanwhile, back at Mary's house, the Demon kills Jo and Dean — and then hides in the house, waiting for Mary to come home.

Mary returns to find the place trashed, and Jo murdered (bruised, bloody, and suffocated by a plastic bag). She runs screaming through the house until she comes face to face with The Demon — who has locked all the doors. She freaks out and a Cat and mouse stalking sequence ensues as the Demon pursues Mary up and downstairs, inside closets, and up to the attic, where she attempts escape through a hole in the roof. When that proves futile, she locks herself in a bathroom—and devises a booby trap to ultimately catch and kill the Demon using a shower nozzle, a bottle of shampoo, and a pair of scissors.

When the Demon bursts through the door, he is hit in the face with a blast of hot water. Mary stabs him in the neck with scissors, and he slips on the shampoo and falls into the bathtub, bleeding to death. Mary takes off screaming through the house just as Bobby and Dr. Stuart arrive to rescue her.

Cast[edit]

  • Cameron Mitchell as Col. Bill Carson
  • Jennifer Holmes as Mary Jones
  • Craig Gardner as Dean Turner
  • Zoli Marki as Jo
  • Peter J. Elliot as Mr. Parker
  • Moira Winsow as Joan Parker
  • Mark Tanous as Bobby
  • George Korelin as Dr. Stuart
  • Vera Blacker as Mrs. Stuart
  • John Parsonson as The Truck Driver
  • Graham "Patches" Kennard as The Demon (billed as Graham Kennard)
  • Diane Burmeister
  • April Galetti as Girl in Alley
  • Amanda Wildman

Reception[edit]

The Terror Trap gave the film 2/4 stars, calling it, "utterly boring", criticizing the film's mediocre acting, but commended the film's ending.[1] Fred Beldin from Allmovie gave the film a negative review, calling it "dull, dimly lit slasher nonsense".[2] Hysteria Lives! awarded the film 2.5 out of 5 stars, writing, "THE DEMON succeeds in being downright freaky. It's not a good film by any means - although, as I pointed out, the final showdown provide some good solid slasher thrills - but, for all its clichés, it goes off at such a tangent that it can't fail but entertain."[3] TV Guide gave the film 2/5 stars, calling it "lame", stating that the film was "of interest only to Cameron Mitchell devotees".[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Demon (1979)". Terror Trap.com. The Terror Trap. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  2. ^ Beldin, Fred. "The Demon (1976) - Percival Rubens". Allmovie.com. Fred Beldin. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  3. ^ "THE DEMON". Hysteria Lives.co.uk. Hysteria Lives!. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  4. ^ "The Demon - Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV Guide.com. TV Guide. Retrieved 19 July 2018.

External links[edit]