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  Demonwarp Bigfoot fetish
Year: 1988
Director: Emmet Alston
Stars: George Kennedy, David Michael O'Neill, Pamela Gilbert, Billy Jayne, Hank Stratton, Colleen McDermott, Michelle Bauer, Shannon Kennedy, John Durbin, Jill Marin, Joe Praml, Larry Grogan
Genre: Horror, Trash, Science Fiction, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: At a remote cabin in the woods (uh-oh) Bill Crafton (George Kennedy) and his daughter Julie (Jill Marin) are enjoying a nice game of Trivial Pursuit. When who should come crashing through their door but Bigfoot! The savage Sasquatch knocks Bill out cold. Then drags his daughter's corpse into the woods. Some time later young hero Jack Berman (David Michael O'Neill), his girlfriend Carrie (Pamela Gilbert) and their dimwit college friends Tom (80s sitcom staple Billy Jayne), Fred (Hank Stratton) and Cindy (Colleen McDermott) arrive at the same cabin seeking fun and frolics and meet Bill, now out for revenge. Inexplicably ignoring the old man's warning, Jack opts to snare Bigfoot himself. Only to, inevitably, lose a few friends when Bigfoot strikes again. Whereupon the few survivors stumble through the woods where they discover the frankly bat-shit crazy secret behind the monster's rampage.

Given we are talking about a sloppy sub-genre that includes the likes of, er, Bigfoot (1971), Shriek of the Mutilated (1974), The Capture of Bigfoot (1979) and Night of the Demon (1980) among others, it says something that Demonwarp is quite possibly the most bonkers 'scary Bigfoot' movie out there. If only it had the energy and competent filmmaking to back up its crazy concepts. Alas, coming from Emmet Alston, the deranged auteur behind 9 Deaths of a Ninja (1985), this was not to be. Conceived by special effects artist John Carl Buechler, director of Friday the 13th Part VII (1988), the story bolsters its homicidal ape-man plot with zombies, aliens and a topless demon ritual. Yet relegates most of these to its frantic finale. For the most part the film comes across like a low-energy Evil Dead (1983) with characters trudging miserably through the least spooky woodland setting imaginable, periodically harassed by Buechler's snarling Sasquatch.

Somehow in the same year that George Kennedy was happily spoofing it up in The Naked Gun (1988), the team behind Demonwarp snagged the double Oscar-winner for this direct-to-video debacle. In a role Jack Palance turned down. Think about that. Palance turned it down. Possibly upon realizing he already played this character in the superior (no, honestly) Without Warning (1980). Old pro that he is, Kennedy inhabits his clich├ęd role with conviction. Even in the midst of so much escalating madness he involves the audience in his plight. Yet for the most part is barely in the film and grievously wasted.

While the script, co-written by Jim Bertges and Bruce Akiyama, takes some offbeat turns and deals with potentially interesting ideas they remain poorly developed and sloppily executed. Alston at least has the good sense to throw in some rubber gore effects and topless nudity, from among others B-movie staple Michelle Bauer as one half of two unfortunate party girls who wander in, pop their tops and run around screaming, to keep viewers awake. However the inane humour (Billy Jayne seems to think he is Griffin Dunne in An American Werewolf in London (1981)) and frankly strange interaction between the college age protagonists. For some reason all the male characters, save Bill, respond to pressure by turning into abusive assholes. Especially ostensible hero Jack who not only lures his friends to their deaths but berates an understandably aggrieved Cindy and holds Bill at gunpoint. Once the film goes full sci-fi weird in the third act there is some entertainment to be had, if only from its sheer gonzo desperation, prior to a nonsensical shock ending seemingly lifted from John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness (1987). Only obviously not as clever, haunting or, y'know, good.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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