Retro Review: ‘Demon Wind’
Recently, beloved horror movie host Joe Bob Briggs created a significant amount of buzz by introducing a new generation of horror fans to a strange flick from 1990 called Demon Wind. A staple on video store shelves this movie is a treasure for those who enjoy fun horror flicks of this era.
After his grandparents are violently killed; Corey, his girlfriend Elaine and a few of his friends head out to their burned out cabin in the middle of nowhere to find out what happened. Once here, as one might expect, their cars die stranding them on the grounds haunted by an ancient evil. One by one the teens are ensnared and transformed by a demonic force. Corey and Elaine have only his grandmother’s spell book and two daggers (which are apparently one-time use only) to protect them. They must find a way to survive the night besieged by demons and black magic.
Like other direct-to-video filmmakers of his time, writer/director Charles Phillip Moore makes little effort to hide that Demon Wind apes Evil Dead in it’s visual language . Though, as you may suspect, he is no Sam Raimi. What Charles Phillip Moore does succeed in is creating a creepy heavy atmosphere for the film. From the very beginning as we see a burning cross with skeletal remains tied to it, we as the viewers instantly have a sense of uneasiness. This easily established the mood of Demon Wind as the evil our characters are stuck with makes itself known from the start. I will also give Moore credit with how he presents the cabin where this all takes place, as it and the neighboring barn are burned down shells but once you cross their thresholds, they appear mostly how they did when they were standing. This is truly a neat effect which adds to the supernatural presence which looms. I do wish he had brought this level of inventiveness to the make-up fx utilized on the demonic creatures terrorizing; Corey, Elaine and the rest of the crew. Given that multiple performers had to be decked out in their monstrous best, it is clear to see when the make-up artist got lazy. With multiple shots viewers can see exposed seams and the bubbling up of latex which has not been properly adhered. In the climax where all the creatures merge into a single entity, you see where all the effort went for the fx artists as the look of this mega-monster borders on overkill. Seemingly the only way our dogged hero can defeat such an evil is for he too to become some kind of creature which is not fully explained.
Being your standard Video Era horror flick the characters featured in Demon Wind have the combined intelligence of a jar of peanut butter. At one point we are given false hope when two characters look out the window to see an ominous fog and a woman trying to lure them out of the cabin to her. They immediately realize it is a demon…..but go outside anyways firmly believing their gun will protect them. This would be more forgivable if the actors onscreen had anything close to chemistry with one another, rather they just seem like a bunch of random people thrown together by the director. That being said they are rather fun to watch and each one is given a unique and highly exaggerated personality. I will say that this is perhaps the first movie where the lack of intellect extends to the supernatural menace as well. Viewers will die from laughter as the demons attacking the teens in the house are content to simply bang on the walls outside while periodically only one of them realizes the windows are clearly open (!!!!!) and actually goes inside.
Thanks to a recent Blu-Ray release from the good people at Vinegar Syndrome and the screening by Joe Bob on the Last Drive-In this flick has picked up a bit of a following recently. Demon Wind is a perfect example of the low budget fun that so many horror films from the video stores brought and is definitely worth a watch for horror fans who will now doubt fall in love with it.