Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Demons Four: The Sect (aka Demons 4)

After the train wreck that was Demons III: The Ogre, there's nowhere to go but up.  Right?  Right?  Today's film is by Michele Soavi, the man who made The Church (aka the good Demons III) and Cemetery Man.  Of course, he'll always be the cross-dressing killer from A Blade in The Dark.  He didn't want to kill anyone- he just wanted to drink their blood.  Anyhow, this film is known in most place as simply The Sect.  Hell, the dubbed version I found is called that, giving me zero mention of the Demons connection at all. Hell, I can barely find a picture of the cover below on Google.  Even so, I'm committed by this point, so screw it!  The movie is...well, not about demons or anything remotely-like it.  Hell, the only monsters we get are a killer bird and some sort of Shroud of Turin knock-off.  Really, Soavi- a handkerchief with a face on it?  I'll attempt to make sense of this rare film for you, but there are no promises.  Get your Dan Brown books out for my review of...
The film begins by showing us the titles juxtaposed against the California desert and the song 'Horse with No Name.'  I bet you never thought that you'd see that in a Soavi film, huh?!?  The title card tells us that it's 1970 and a bunch of hippies are living on the land.  They do hippie stuff like smoke pot, paint women's breasts and have a half-naked kid running around.  A mysterious man arrives and his first line is quoting 'Sympathy for the Devil' by The Rolling Stones.  You're going to be evil, aren't you?  Before any set-up is really done, we cut to night time and find that the man's biker gang have killed the  They try to sacrifice them to an evil power, but something goes wrong.  We jump ahead to 1991 and are treated to two disparate scenes.  A crazy man chases a woman to her house, while a different woman nearly hits an old man in the street.  The first woman is caught and killed- giving us an effect of blood and milk combining- while the other one takes the stranger home.  After freaking out, the crazy man drops a human heart on the subway- who hasn't been there- and gets arrested.  At the home, the old man says some crazy shit and then pretends to fall asleep, tricking the woman into letting him stay.  That night, he sneaks in and sticks a bug up her nose.
Our heroine has a freaky dream that culminates in a stork crawling up her dress and pecking her neck.  We also get a scene of her rabbit channel-surfing.  The next day, the old man feigns a heart attack, tricking the woman *again* and causing her to seek help.  While she's away, the man wanders down to her basement and finds...a Dagon-sized well.  He says more crazy stuff, drops a handkerchief into it and dies.  The cop arrives with her and they find the man's body.  More crazy stuff happens including a P.O.V. shot of the woman drinking water from a container and a comrade of hers being attacked by a handkerchief bearing the face of the dead old man.  There's creative symbolism and then there's keeping your audience in the dark.  On the plus side, we get to see a dead woman come back to life and try to choke her friend to death.  I don't get it, but it's interesting.
I won't lie- I barely know what the hell happens in the latter half of the movie.  Don't get me wrong- I saw it, but I don't get it.  It has something to do with the bug put in our heroine turning into a child that will be sacrificed...or something.  Either way, some evil guys- including a gray-haired version of the evil guy from before- are after him.  She ends up in the hands of the *better* cult- including the not-dead old man- and gives birth to a weird fetus thing in the well.  Mind you, this is after the bird pulls worms out of an open wound on her neck.  On the surface, however, she rejects the cult's offer to lead them with the promised child, leading to one of them chasing her on a motorcycle.  He crashes, causing him to drive off whilst on fire.  She's cornered, so she steps in the fire with the child and dies..only to be hosed off by the police and saved.  Fun fact: the woman wouldn't do a nude scene, so the ending is shot super-tight on her face.  Um, The End...I guess.
This movie is, well, weird as hell.  I don't quite get most of what was happening, but I'm sure it was supposed to be important.  It's not a bad movie- it's just a confusing one.  The plot is centered one woman, but seems to get distracted with a dozen different visual effects and camera tricks.  This makes for a great trailer, but a very disjointed film.  The rabbit stuff is a distraction, as are the P.O.V. shots and make-up work.  I guess it's a requirement to make bizarre monsters in Italian horror films, huh?  The stuff that works here really does work though and I can't fault Soavi for a lack of vision.  My problem here is that the story just can't agree on what it wants to be about.  His previous film- The Church- struck a better balance between crazy and plot.  Then again, this movie has three writers attributed to it...which explains a lot.  If you like films like this, you'll enjoy The Sect.  Whether or not you can make sense of it or not...that I can't promise you.  It's still better than Demons III: The Ogre though.
Next up, we go to Australia to cover a '70s cult classic.  Will it live up to the hype?  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. You bastard, I have been trying to get my hands on this one for years, you may have to email me the secret location where the film is being sold. Im a huge Soavi fan, read about this one in the aptly titled 101 Best Horror Movies Youve Never Seen