DEMON WIND (1990) Blu-ray/DVD combo
Director: Charles Philip Moore
Vinegar Syndrome

Nineties home video horror obscurity DEMON WIND blows again on Blu-ray/DVD combo from Vinegar Syndrome.

Suffering from nightmares ever since his girlfriend Elaine (Francine Lapensée, HOLLYWOOD'S NEW BLOOD) helped him find the alcoholic father (Jake Jacobson) who abandoned him as a baby (and subsequently committed suicide four days after their meeting), Cory (Eric Larson, UNINVITED) is drawn to the remote farm of his grandparents (DARKROOM's Stella Kastner and Axel Toowey) who mysteriously vanished in the summer of 1929 when a hot wind blew through the valley and burned up the crops. Gas station owner Harcourt (Rufus Norris, RETURN FIRE) warns them off trying to find the farm, but they persist in their endeavor with a group of friends – jock Dell (Bobby Johnston, FEMALIEN) and girlfriend Terri (Lynn Clark), Terry's karate-kicking magician ex Chuck (Stephen Quadros, THE LOST PLATOON) and prankster Stacy (Jack Vogel, EVIL ALTAR), Jack (Mark David Fritsche, ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK) and Bonnie (Sherry Leigh, SLAUGHTERHOUSE), and later joined by Willy (Richard Gabai, BIKINI DRIVE-IN) and Reena (Mia Ruiz, WITCHCRAFT II: THE TEMPTRESS) – accompanying for emotional support. Overtly supernatural things start happening right away as they step into the farmhouse to discover it fully intact even though it looks like a burnt-out husk on the outside, but the cars of course fail to start when they decide it would be a good idea to get out of there. Taking refuge from materializing demonic children, Cory and the others discover his grandmother's journal and learn that the settlers in the valley followed a preacher who then discovered the true god and set about to bring the Son of Satan to Earth. As the party fall prey to demonic temptation and turn into drooling zombies, Cory and Elaine scramble to discover how to combat the onslaught with his grandmother's magic.

A scantily-budgeted yet more technologically-advanced retread of THE EVIL DEAD, DEMON WIND is glutted with an "everything but the kitchen sink" style of plotting that includes a Lovecraftian backstory, demonic children, sinister preachers, zombies, demons, devil worship, telekinesis, humor, and plenty of latex (with THE RUNESTONE's Lance Anderson assisted by THE CROW' Scott Coulter, EVIL BONG's Jeffrey S. Farley, and THE MANGLER's Scott Wheeler among other low-budget horror gone mainstream effects artists). The unwieldy cast of characters provides plenty of demon fodder and are generally more interesting characters than the lead couple but the action becomes pretty monotonous once it settles down to the climactic siege of demons on the farmhouse, and the effects gags are not diverse enough to make the film any more than the entertaining diversion it was back in the video rental days when its lenticular cover jumped off the shelves amidst plenty of Empire Pictures, Full Moon Entertainment, and the like. Writer/director Charles Philip Moore followed up his debut here with BLACKBELT, DANCE WITH DEATH, and ANGEL OF DESTRUCTION for Roger Corman (as well as the script for Corman's second remake of NOT OF THIS EARTH).

Given scant theatrical release by producer United Filmmakers, DEMON WIND was released on VHS by Prism Entertainment with a lenticular cover and on laserdisc by Image Entertainment. Vinegar Syndrome's Blu-ray/DVD combo is derived from a new 2K scan of the original camera negative, and any inconsistencies in the image between shots in the 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen image can be blamed on the original cinematographer – as explained by cinematographer Tom Callaway (FEAST) – but the image at is best has a dimensional sense of depth in the studio interiors while the underlit night exteriors are heavily grainy. The make-up effects hold up well with the enhanced resolution in a sort of Halloween haunted house way, and the behind the scenes stories suggest that it is a miracle that the film looks as good as it does (especially compared to the Hunt's previous horror effort TWISTED NIGHTMARE). Mixed in four-track stereo (left, center, right, and mono surround) and released on tape and disc in matrixed stereo, the audio is presented here in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 (left, center, right, left and right surrounds) although the back cover specifies a 5.1 track (your receiver should be able to sum up low frequency information from the other channels for your subwoofer if desired). While the surround mix does not compare to modern mixes or even some of the better-budgeted Dolby Stereo films of its era, the track remains active throughout (if a little hissy in the quieter passages), being less effective as the action itself becomes a monotonous series of broken windows and shotgun blasts. Optional English SDH subtitles are provided.

Extras start off with “Producing DEMON WIND” (26:27), an interview with executive producer Sandy Horowitz (CLUB LIFE) who reveals that the film was pitched by Moore during the extended reshooting and post-production of TWISTED NIGHTMARE on which he scripted additional scenes and served as second unit director. He recalls the young filmmaker's energy and enthusiasm while admitting that he regrets not appreciating the resulting achievement back then. In “Acting in Demon Wind” (16:31), actress Leigh reveals that she and Lapensée had been friends before the film and often auditioned for the same features (both previously appeared in the David A. Prior-scripted BORN KILLER). She recalls waiting around for the make-up effects, shooting in unpredictable weather, and that Lou Diamond Phillips (THE FIRST POWER) was married to second assistant director Julie Cypher (STAND AND DELIVER) and that he appeared as an uncredited demon extra during a set visit.

In “Shooting DEMON WIND” (19:57), cinematographer Calloway recalls coming to Los Angeles to make movies and returning to Texas to try his hand at low-budget filmmaking with GHOST RIDERS after serving as gaffer but being credited as cinematographer on BITS AND PIECES in Los Angeles only to be promoted from gaffer to cinematographer by David De Coteau on CREEPAZOIDS, launching his low-budget horror career. He does not regard DEMON WIND as one of his better works due to the cheapness of Hunt, forcing him to shoot on short ends (mislabeled ones lead to underexposure requiring two days of reshooting) with unreliable Ultra Cam cameras (designed by POLTERGEIST cinematographer Matthew Leonetti as a cheaper alternative to Panavision), developing the film at a porn lab before he insisted on switching to Fotokem, and not allowing him to do the color timing. An audio interview (20:17) with editor Christopher Roth (LEPRECHAUN) covers his early low-budget work, including a stint on the Laurel Entertainment show MONSTERS on which he met Moore who had worked as a dolly grip on the show. Moore later contacted him to step in to replace the original editor. He points out parts of the film that he felt went on for too long (the café scenes) and takes credit for casting adult performer Tiffany Million (MICHAEL NINN'S LATEX) as the topless demon. The film's theatrical trailer (2:09) and a still gallery (3:52) is also included. The combo comes with a reversible cover with both faces of the original lenticular VHS cover while the first three thousand copies purchased directly through Vinegar Syndrome come with a lenticular, double-thick slipcover. (Eric Cotenas)