4 November 2017

DEMON HOUSE PICTURES PRESENTS: MARK DUFFIELD'S 'DEMON.' A GOTHIC HORROR LOVE STORY REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.




DEMON HOUSE PICTURES PRESENTS: MARK DUFFIELD'S 'DEMON.' (2012) STARRING CLARE LANGFORD, ANDREW MULLAN, GABRIELLE CURTIS, TOM HALL, CHRISTOPHER ETTRIDGE, ANDREW CUNNINGHAM, JACKIE HALIDAY AND RYAN WICHERT.
MAKE-UP AND HAIR DESIGNER: FIFI CORKER.
COSTUME DESIGNER: LARA JENSEN.
MUSIC: STEPHEN BENTLEY-KLEIN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'We must drive it out into the sunlight and watch it bleed to death...'

This is an excellent supernatural horror film by my good Facebook chum Mark Duffield, who has kindly promised me a tenner if I'll big his film up good-style on this here blog. Ah, I'm only kidding. Of course that didn't happen. As if. It was a twenty, heh-heh-heh.

I'm like one of those supermodels from the 'Eighties who wouldn't get out of bed for less than ten grand, remember those guys? Cheeky rich skeletons. Don't mind them. Let me tell you about DEMON, which I'd be bigging up naturally anyway, even if I wasn't privileged enough to be acquainted with the director.

It's a brilliant gothic horror movie that's as much a beautiful doomed love story (like that JULIET AND ROMEO book...!) as it is a horror film. I enjoyed it thoroughly, not least because the handsome lead actor spent much of the movie prancing about in the altogether. I had firm, muscular man-buttocks to the forefront of my mind for days after watching the fillum. That's not good for my concentration, is that...

Anyway, we'll take a look at the plot first, me hearties. Lorcan Wilde, the owner of the aforementioned buttocks, and jolly splendiferous they are too, is an attractive young Oirish toff who's come to the Royal London Hospital to be cured of a blood disease by a certain Doctor Edwards. It's the 1890s, by the way, and good old Queen Vic is still sitting squarely on the old throne. The haemorrhoids she must have had, after sixty odd years of throne-sitting...

The elegant and reserved Lorcan causes quite a stir amongst the, um, two nurses who work at the hospital. Mark won't mind me saying that, I hope. He's done a marvellous job on a low budget and in the end, we only see the fabulously polished finished product and not any little corners that had to be, of necessity, cut. Not me, though. I see everything...! I am omnipotent and omniscient, or whichever one means that I'm always around and you can't get rid of me.

Lorcan immediately falls in love with the little Oirish nurse Amy Harper, and his feelings are more than reciprocated by Amy, who jolly well knows what side her bloody bread is buttered. A rich toff who can carry her away from the steaming, sloshing bed-pans and the mental patients who roam the hospital at will? Gimme a break. Of course she's gonna clutch at Lorcan's coat-tails with both hands.

Amy seems to be played by an actual Irish person, so her accent is good and authentic, unlike, say, Julia Robert's Oirish accent in MARY REILLY, an otherwise enjoyable film which puts me in mind of DEMON with its Victorian medical-type setting.

Ms. Roberts was a bit more 'Be the hokies! Stroke me clover and say me name. Kiss me, I'm Oirish...!' than I would have liked to hear in any film, but it's still a good entertaining watch, with John Malkovich in the role of the tormented Jekyll-and-Hyde character.

Before I forget to go back to the notion of mental patients wandering around the 'orspital at random, let me say here that the security at the Royal London Hospital is on a par with that of the Seward Asylum in Bram Stoker's DRACULA story. That is to say, it needs some serious f**king tightening up...!

Billy the psychopath in DEMON has seemingly as much freedom as the wretched creature Renfield in the DRACULA films, who was actually permitted to wander between the Asylum and the Sewards' private residence whenever he felt like it. Scaring the shite out of everyone with his icky zoophagous tendencies. 'Taint fittin', 'taint fittin', 'taint fittin', as Mammy from GONE WITH THE WIND might have said.

Maybe security at the Royal London Hospital would've been better if the burly (and rather attractive) Rook had attended to his duties a wee bit more instead of gambling and trying to get some lovin' from the uptight Nurse Rose, but what's a busy training hospital without a few nutters roaming the place armed with their dinner knives? Nowt, I suppose. 

Let's get back to the poor orphaned Lorcan, whose deceased Uncle has sent him to Doctor Edwards with a mysterious package of indecipherable old papers and his wish that the boy be cured of his blood disease, known as porphyria. Lorcan is devastatingly handsome.

He reminds me of a young French jazz guitarist I had a fling with a few summers ago. He was all sexy cigarette smoke, chin stubble, floppy hair and brooding glances, not to mention all the begging and pleading along the lines of: 'Please don't tell my girlfriend, I love her so much, you won't tell anyone, will you?' Well, I never told anyone in person, just like I promised, but I do mention the affair periodically in my writing, heh-heh-heh.

Lorcan has a secret, a terrible secret that no young man should have to shoulder. He's actually the offspring of a demon and a human female, the descendant of Legion, God's fallen angel. I find the idea of fallen angels in horror movies terrifying but immensely compelling.

They were there with God, presumably, from the beginning of time. They're as old as time itself and, once they've been expelled from the Garden of Eden, they can't ever get back in. With nothing at all left to lose, there's nothing at all to prevent them from doing their worst. That's the scary part. With nothing to lose, why should they care whom they hurt...?

Lorcan has more compassion and sensitivity than your average demon, however. The curse he's under causes him to turn physically into the demon within him if he's (un)lucky enough to fall in love. Of course, the minute he lays eyes on little Nurse Amy, the curse begins to take a hold of him. He's terrified of hurting Amy, of hurting anyone, but he has no choice in the matter.

His transformation into the hideous, vampirically-fanged winged demon is a superb piece of work on the part of the special effects people. Amy, even though she's frightened of his physical appearance, is still desperate to cling onto Lorcan, as rich single men are hard to find in any era and she's not letting this one go lightly (Holly, anyone...?).

I can't say I blame her. Where else would you find a man who will make love to you while wearing a posh top hat? How freakin' classy is that? When my own demon calls round of an evening for a bit of how's-yer-father, I'm lucky if I can get him to take his bleedin' socks off. 

Lorcan hardly ever takes his topper off and let me tell you this much. If you haven't been mauled by a naked demon in a top hat, then you haven't really been mauled.

No titties on show here for the lads, but lots of lovely nudie male nudity for the lasses. About time, sniff. No frontal nudity, sadly, but Lorcan has a butt that won't quit. He's a foxy laddie along the lines of the dreamy Douglas Booth, from the 2011 BBC version of GREAT EXPECTATIONS, who seems to play rich toffs a lot in his movies. Andrew Mullan is a name we'll be hearing a lot more of, along with, hopefully, the director Mark Duffield.

The film is beautifully shot, with some exquisite images of London, a number of utterly magnificent shots of the sky at various times of the day and night and some truly gorgeous interiors, all done in the rich burnished browns of the posh folks' Victorian London.

I especially love the fully-furnished study in which Professor Darkwood, the hospital's expert in haematology, and Doctor Edwards have their little chats about the ancient manuscript which proves categorically that Lorcan is a demon. I have something like that, a certificate or summat, for one of my own offspring, the little demon one. I was actually thinking of getting it laminated. The certificate, that is, not the kiddo. Just a thought.

There are a whopping one hour and twelve minutes of extra features, including an
appreciation of the film by film critic and journalist Dr. Karen Oughton. I must mention, as well, that Mark Duffield first came to my attention as the writer and director of an excellent Thai horror movie called THE GHOST OF MAE NAK (2005), my review of which I'll include at the end of this one.

You guys should definitely check out both films, each completely different but superbly done by a guy who really, really loves what he's doing. It's evident in the care and attention to detail that you see in his work.

DEMON will put you in mind of films about tormented, cursed characters like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman who are doomed to spend eternity alone, as dangerous, murderous outcasts whom everyone despises and fears.

Well, Dracula usually seems to enjoy what he's doing, now that I think about it, but I definitely remember that Lon Chaney Jr. was always running around trying to get himself locked up and the curse lifted from his poor hairy head.

The film DEMON also puts me in mind of the Jack The Ripper movie, FROM HELL starring Johnny Depp, THE ELEPHANT MAN because of the Victorian hospital setting and, of course, the aforementioned MARY REILLY.

So that's that, anyway. Mark, my darling boy, you owe me twenty quid. Strapped for cash? No problemo, baby. Ask the divine Lorcan for a signed plaster-cast of the famous buttocks. I'll make do with that. I'm clearing a space on the mantelpiece for it right now...

GHOST OF MAE NAK. 2005. TARTAN ASIA EXTREME. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY MARK DUFFIELD. STARRING PATARATIDA PACHARAWIRAPONG, SIWAT CHOTCHAICHARIN AND PORNTIP PAPANAI AS MAE NAK. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is an excellent Thai horror film based on an actual Thai legend. There really once was a Mae Nak, which is kind of a cool concept. Films have been made about her and there's even a shrine to her in Bangkok, a shrine to the woman who loved her man so much that even death itself couldn't stop her. You gotta admit that that's a terrific premise for a horror film.

Anyway, this film centres around a truly loved-up, good-looking young married couple called Mak and Nak. Cute names, huh? They move into a ramshackle fixer-upper of a house in Bangkok that their friendly old estate agent, Mr. Angel, has assured them is the perfect dwelling for a couple of newly-weds. Don't worry if you hear a noise. It's just the sound of alarm bells ringing long and loud, haha.

Yes, the fabulous rundown old house is haunted, but the thing is, Mak has been seeing visions of a strange woman since even before he moved into the marital home. She's beautiful with long black hair, just like his new missus, but her teeth and mouth are hideously blackened for some reason and she has a bit missing from her forehead, which doesn't improve her ghostly appearance any. 

The kids have other stuff to worry about for the moment, however. They run into some exceptional bad luck in the early days of their marriage. Their home is burgled and their wedding gifts stolen by a couple of hilarious bunglers called Tick and... you guessed it, Tock. As if that wasn't bad enough, Mak is later run over by the burglars' van as he gives chase in the street and he ends up in a coma.  

Nak is not unnaturally distraught. Her hubby's in a coma and her newly-married life is turning to s***e before her very eyes. When she realises that the spirit of Mae Nak is holding Mak's soul hostage in return for previous favours she's apparently done the young couple in the past, she's even more disturbed. What does this vengeful spirit want in return for relinquishing her hold over Mak?

Mae Nak's story is a tragic one. She died traumatically in childbirth while her beloved husband was away at war a hundred years ago. Her remains were then unjustly exorcised, along with those of her child, after her passing. A piece of bone was removed from her poor little forehead and made into a brooch by the High Priest, a brooch which was given to Nak as a wedding present from her young groom. It's not a very cheerful present to give a bride, is it? At least we know he did it unwittingly...

What's Nak supposed to do now? If she were to find the earthly remains of Mae Nak and replace the piece of bone taken from her forehead, would Mae Nak be at peace then? More importantly, would she release Mak from her vengeful grip? There are some great spooky scenes as Nak and two of her friends dig for Mae Nak's bones in some deserted waste ground.

They'd better hurry up and find their missing corpse, though, because Mak's parents have been talked into having their comatose son exorcised (as opposed to exercised!) by local monks, a procedure which Nak has been warned by a psychic could be dangerous to poor out-of-it Mak. Even fatal...

There are some great characters in this film. Mr. Angel, the fat jovial estate agent who's planning to swindle the pair of newly-weds, is one. The kids' fatherly, more honest lawyer is another. Nak's Granny who tells her the story of the legend of Mae Nak is a kick-ass old dame. Ditto Granny's psychic friend, the blind lady who summons up the dead like a freakin' boss. The old people in this film are all terrifically watchable.

Tick and Tock, the incompetent housebreakers, are good for a few laughs and Master Tring, the fortune-teller hired by Nak's family before the wedding, is an interesting character. His involvement in the nuptials is treated as essentially as that of the cake-maker or dress-maker, which I think is utterly fascinating in terms of what it tells us about Thai culture. His crooked assistant is a good evil character, if you get me. Will he get his come-uppance? We'll have to leave it to Mae Nak to see about that one...

There are some brilliant, nail-bitingly scary scenes at the end when Mak realises that it's the wrong bride he's come home with. Eeeeek...! Overall, this is a terrific horror film with a nice twisty, creepy ending. I would definitely recommend it to all you Asian horror fans out there. This is one for the collection. You can take it from me. Have I ever steered you wrong? Maybe, folks, but not about horror films. Never about horror films...

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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