Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
Released on: October 6th, 2015.
Director: Alfredo Zacarias
Cast: Samantha Eggar, Stuart Whitman, Roy Jenson
Year: 1981 Purchase From Amazon
A Mexican-American co-production directed by Alfredo Zacarias south of the border, Demonoid opens up with a scene in which a blonde woman gets into some hot water with some evil monks. One severed hand later and we cut to the present day where Mark Baines (Roy Jenson) is heading a mining dig outside of a small town called La Quiemada. His wife Jennifer (Samantha Eggar) arrives in town to check up on him but is told by the locals that it’s bad luck for a woman to go into the tunnels. She ignores them, heads underground and soon after discovers a strange mummy missing its left hand.
Later on in the trip, Mark decides to take Jennifer out to a local museum. Here there are yet more mummies, each one also missing its left hand. It’s hard not to notice the trend here. They dig around a bit and learn that the locals believe that the mine is cursed by the devil himself but again, they ignore the warnings and go explore the mines some more. Inevitably, Mark falls through some sort of sand trap thing and winds up in a secret underground lair that looks an awful lot like the one from the opening scene. They make it out of the tunnel and find a metallic hand on the way, which seems to scare the bejesus out of any of the Mexicans that see it and soon enough, the rotted hand that lives inside the case makes its way out and starts crawling around wreaking havoc.
But wait, there’s more! Mark goes nuts, blows up his mine and his men and jets back to the States leaving Jennifer in Mexico. When she tries to reunite with him she learns he’s been killed in a gambling dispute by some guy and his lady friend (played by Haji of Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!)… but his hand has not shuffled off this mortal coil! Jennifer heads back to do what she can do about this and in doing so befriends an Irish priest named Father Cunningham (Stuart Whitman). They work together to try and stop the murderous hand from murdering more but it won’t be easy, because seemingly everyone they come into contact with goes nuts, attacks them and chops off their hands too!
This one is a lot of fun. It does take a little bit of time to get going, what with all the hanging out in Mexican scenes that take place after the awesome killer cult in a cave opening sequence, but even in these slower parts we get some neat mummified corpses, nice Mexican scenery and ‘weird locals’ doing the types of things that weird locals do in movies like this. So slow doesn’t equal dull during this stretch. One we get to about the half way mark, however, and the Baines’ bring that metal hand thing out of the mine? All bets are off and the movie throws logic and buildup out the window in favor of more and more killer hand attacks. That’s a good thing, and each and every one of these scenes is pretty awesome and they are directed and performed with an impressive amount of energy.
Eggar is pretty fun to watch here as the female lead. She’s wild eyed and pretty intense throughout the film and she and Roy Jenson made a pretty fun team. Stuart Whitman isn’t always completely convincing as an ‘Irish’ priest but he’s Stuart Whitman and he’s awesome, putting him in your movie is always a good idea. It’s fun to see Haji pop up here too.
Vinegar Syndrome brings Demonoid to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in a new 2k scan taken from the original 35mm negative. There are some shots, the early ones in the cave for example, that don’t look so detailed but the scenes shot in better light and/or outdoors look excellent. Print damage is little more than small white specks now and then while colors look great. Black levels are also fine and skin tones quite good. This looks really nice in HD actually.
Audio chores are handled by an English language DTS-HD Mono track. No alternate language options or subtitles are provided. There’s good clarity here, nice range and balance and at times some noticeable depth. There are no problems with any hiss to note but there is some occasionally distortion noticeable in the higher pitched dialogue here and there. Nothing all that serious or distracting but it’s there. Otherwise, things sound just fine.
The main extra on the disc is the inclusion of the alternate international version of the film under the Macabra title. This is presented in your choice of French or English with optional English subtitles. This version runs roughly eleven minutes long and it does away with the opening prologue in the cave. The death scenes and finales are also a bit less bloody but it’s got a bit more going for it in terms of character development and Whitman gets a bit more screen time in this cut too. This cut also features completely different music than the Demonoid version.
From there, be sure to watch the new video interview with Director Alfredo Zacarias in which he talks about how he came to make this picture, working with his partner to produce the film, how Samantha Eggar and Stuart Whitman wound up in the picture, the reason that it is the left hand that goes bad and not the right, similarities to movies like The Hand and The Exorcist and quite a bit more. Rounding out the extras are trailers for both versions of the movie, a still gallery, static menus and chapter selection. It’s also worth noting that the cover insert artwork for this release is reversible. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie with identical extra features.
The Final Word:
Vinegar Syndrome have rolled out the high definition red carpet for Demonoid an unlikely but completely deserving candidate for a special edition release, but here it is just the same. If you’ve seen it before you’ll appreciate just how much better the film looks here compared to past presentations and on top of that you get both versions of the movie and some great extras too. Fans of wonky supernatural horror should get a kick out of this one, it’s plenty entertaining.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!