Mar 25, 2017

Demoniac (1975)

Original Title: L'éventreur de Notre-Dame; AKA Exorcisms; Director Jesús Franco delivers one of his sleaziest features - which is saying a lot for a guy who was once labeled "The most dangerous film-maker alive" by the Vatican.

It's Venus magazine HQ, where Anne (Lina Romay - Jess Franco's real life wife) helps the publisher sort through his mail.  I love the set here: the old phones, the ashtray, the dirty magazines, the kitschy lamp, the centerfolds stuck to the wall.  Your typical 1970s office space.

Hey, look who's dropped in! It's Franco himself as Mathis Vogel - Venus magazine's top sleaze writer.  He's delivering yet another round of top-selling sadomasochism.  (This will be "important" later.)

Anne meets with her roomie Martine (Catherine Lafferière) at a local cafe. They're making plans for a kinky stage production.  It's going to be a real Black Mass - won't that be delightful!

Back at their pad, Anne and Martine get busy being lesbians.  Meanwhile, the creepy Mathis Vogel spies from a window across the street; clearly getting his rocks off.

It's interesting to note that Vogel, played by Franco, is a lot like Franco himself.  He wrote sleazy lowbrow material, and was watching Lina Romay, have sex (through a camera lens instead of from a window across the street - but you get the parallel.  

The next day, the Black Mass is performed in front of an audience of seemingly respectable Parisians.  I guess that's how they rolled in the 70s.

From the back of the audience, Mathis Vogel watches The Countess (France Nicolas) flanked by Anne and Martine perform their little satanic ritual. Mathias has a complete meltdown, presuming they are bringing his raunchy tales of sadomasochism in Venus magazine to life.

Vogel decides the best thing to do is hunt down and kill everyone associated with this blasphemous production.  He starts with The Countess - the curly haired chick who led the black mass.

The Countess is played by France Nicolas who was in a handful of movies during the sleazy seventies, before calling it quits in 1980.

But, before shit hits the fan, let's take a moment to take stock.  First, this film is horribly dubbed - like so bad it's distracting.  Second, none of these women are particularly good looking except Lina Romay.  And third, this movie isn't just sleazy, it's dark and rather depressing.

Can we hang on for the second act?  We've come this far, let's keep going.  Thing spiral downward from here pretty fast.

Vogel creeps into The Countess' room and stabs her husband, and then basically disembowels her. (I told you things were circling the drain pretty quickly from here.)

The police arrive on the scene and clumsily posit theories of a motive.

Let me be frank - the police procedural element to this film is godawful.  Beyond boring. Unlike your standard giallo where the police investigations drove the storyline, this is just lame padding between the sleaze.

Vogel claims another victim then drops by Venus HQ to drop off another story.  He makes Anne promise she'll read it.

That night, Anne reads his demented prose... and we, the audience, have to suffer through a narrator reading this garbage.

There's a knock at the door. It's Vogel, who chloroforms Anne and drags her down the hall.  The background music is some peppy jazz which doesn't fit the scene at all... yet somehow it works.

Poor Lina Romay should have gotten hazard pay for this scene: being dragged up a flight of wooden stairs wearing nothing but a see-through nightie. 

Lina Romay is obviously a trooper, and her spouse is obviously... well, let's just say he's a big fan of the bush.

The climax comes when the police arrive and Vogel holds Anne hostage.  Predictably, Vogel is shot anyway and Anne is saved.  A happy ending of sorts.

This movie sucks.  I'm sure cine-snobs who worship Franco will call me unenlightened, but there it is.  The only reason to watch this film is to see Lina Romay naked, and there's plenty of other places you can go to see that, and a whole lot more of her.  Otherwise, the film is just a grimy mess; a dark, nihilistic dumpster fire of blood and bush.  

The other women are unattractive, the story is garbage and the dubbing is piss poor.  Sure, there's an orgy and a black mass where a naked chick is crucified upside down.  Perhaps it earns some points for shock value; but otherwise it's a sleazy train wreck that should be avoided.