Demonoid (1981)

What is it that they always say – “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop?”

Yeah, that probably best sums up this week’s new B-Movie Enema review. We’re making a run for the border, and, no, it’s not for Taco Bell… unless you want me to have explosive diarrhea. Well, maybe you do, but I don’t want that for myself. No, it’s for Alfredo Zacarías and his supernatural thriller, Demonoid!

You know what’s great about that? This is the second time we featured a movie written and directed by Zacarías. Oh yeah, I covered him way back in 2018 with his nature-gone-wild epic, The Bees. Even though the reviews of this movie isn’t exactly kind, calling Demonoid a “tedious possession movie” and what have you, I know what I saw in The Bees. I could argue that one was also sort of tedious in how it was made, but goddammit if it wasn’t fucking bonkers at times too. That gives me a tad bit of hope that I could get something decent here in Demonoid.

Like with The Bees, Demonoid is Alfredo Zacarías making a movie that is mostly to appeal to audiences north of the border. This one stars two fairly recognizable faces – Samantha Eggar and Stuart Whitman. Eggar is known to us around these parts in films like David Cronenberg’s The Brood and the anthology movie that centers around cats The Uncanny. She also had a role as Mary Morstan Watson in the Nicholas Meyer-written Sherlock Holmes mystery The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. Eggar’s career goes back to the early 60s where she would eventually get a role in the original 1967 Doctor Dolittle as Emma Fairfax shortly after being nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for The Collector. Later in her career, before retiring, she did voice work as Hera in the Disney Hercules movie and TV show. Her final role was as Whale in two episodes of Metalocalypse.

That’s pretty metal.

Stuart Whitman is also an Oscar nominated actor. His came for 1961’s The Mark in which he played a child molester who was released from prison only to find himself accused of another molestation and beating of a child. Some pretty dark stuff for 1961. Whitman just passed away three years ago from cancer. In his career he racked up nearly 200 roles. His final appearance in a film was in a documentary released in 2020. His career began with two uncredited performances in The Day the Earth Stood Still and When Worlds Collide. Later, he appeared in a lot of westerns and war dramas, as was the usual for male actors paying their dues to eventually become leads. He stayed busy after The Mark made him a high caliber actor. By the 70s, he appeared in movies like Night of the Lepus and the supernatural thriller Ruby. He also appeared as the sheriff in Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive about a man-eating alligator and its deranged redneck owner. Eaten Alive is also notable for featuring Carolyn Jones (Morticia Adams) and Marilyn Burns from Hooper’s breakout The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Eaten Alive will make its way here to this blog because it also has site favorite Roberta Collins in a role.

Enough pussyfootin’ around. Let’s get into Demonoid that has one of those things that shouldn’t ever work, but dangit, it’s fun anyhow… A disembodied hand that is controlled by a demon!

Another thing I will say that, goddammit, just works for look at this menu from the Vinegar Syndrome release. Holy shit. Granted it’s at the bottom of the poster as well, but you have to a devil guy whose tail we see in this menu screen. You got a gnarly hand reaching out for you. But you got two scantily clad bitches who are very likely not going to be ever seen in the flesh in this movie. The girl on the left has that sweet late 70s/early 80s feathered part. The girl on the right is enraptured and reaching up for devil guy. I’m into it. This is some hot business. Whoever drew this should get an award.

I’m not sure what award, but I just think he should get an award for his devil-slave bitches.

We do kick things off with what appears to be some hooded monk guys looking for and chasing after a woman who is also wearing the same robe. The guys eventually trap her and begin tussling with her. She, kind of surprisingly easily, lifts one of the dudes up by his throat and snaps his neck with just a single, bare hand. Two more guys come in and restrain her, somehow ripping open her robe to let them jugglies flop out, and then chain her to a wall where another member of this group approaches with an axe to cut her left hand off.

Now, good news, the girl is no longer really all that restrained anymore. With her left hand removed, she’s not totally chained to that wall. Bad news, though, that hand is crawling away on its own. The monks stab it and lock it away in a hand shaped box.

All this is to basically set up the ritualistic stuff that occurred a few hundred years ago when the members of this satanic cult would cut off the left hands to their devil deity which is also missing a left hand. In the present, Samantha Eggars, playing Jennifer Baines, is visiting her husband, Mark, in a mine in this part of Mexico where these sacrifices took place. She stumbles upon a buried body in the wall of the mine. With the bodies is a bag of silver. This is something that Mark was looking for. However, the locals are quite frightened by the fact that the bodies are missing their left hands.

When Mark shows Jennifer an exhibit of various mummies unearthed in this region, she spots that many of them are missing their left hands too. One of Mark’s local associates explains this is the legend of the Devil’s Hand. The legend was something of the predecessors. This isn’t something that locals believe in anymore. Mark seems to simply be interested in eventually finding treasure.

Later, the workers at the mine refuse to work. The mine and the discovery of the handless mummies has the crew spooked. Jennifer comes up with the idea that she and Mark will go in without them. Surely seeing a woman going into the mine will get the male workers off their duff and back to work.

So, that’s what Mark and Jennifer do. They descend into the mine and discover a cavern that might very well be the reason why the workers have stopped. There’s a rather macabre chamber that Jennifer calls a torture chamber. Mark missteps and sinks into something that looks like quicksand, but it’s just a trap that sinks in and causes Mark to fall into a lower chamber. This lower chamber is basically the temple of that cult that cuts off left hands.

They find the hand-shaped container we saw at the beginning. Mark kind of mocks the statue of the devil dude by saying he broke the curse of the Devil’s Hand. They go outside and all the workers abandon the couple when they see that he’s removed that hand container from the mine.

That night, Mark laments the money he’s borrowed to do this work in the mine. He thinks he’s soon to be flat busted. Jennifer doesn’t think he should be so hard on himself. He stays up to get wasted on cheap tequila while she sleeps. Drunk on the devil’s hooch, Mark opens the hand container only to find it is full of fine powder.

Yeah dude… One, you shouldn’t have opened the ceremonial cult hand container thing. Two, you are probably going to be broke soon because all you got is powder. Three, you are going to be massively hung over tomorrow from all that tequila you drank.

Oh, yeah, and four, you probably let out a demon thingy.

Mark stumbles to bed and, sure enough, the music and the devilish chanting lets us know that devil shit is afoot in Mexico. The powder reconstitutes back into a solid hand. That newly reconstituted hand begins moving on its own. It crawls into bed with Mark and Jennifer and begins sliding up Jennifer’s leg. When she realizes her husband is asleep and not the one feeling her up, she screams and wakes him up. He tries pushing the hand off her leg and the hand and Mark start fighting until it crumbles in his hand.

Mark says it must have just been a nightmare, but, you know, both of them saw the hand and both know the hand grabbed Mark. When she sees the hand container, she picks it up and approaches Mark wanting to see his hand, but he has a very negative reaction to the container. He backs away from her and repeatedly tells her to get the container away from him.

Mark backed out of the hotel room and wasn’t seen until the next day when she finds him at the mine. There, in a crazed state, Mark apparently forced all the workers back into the mine where he then set off dynamite and trapped them inside. Later, Mark goes to the Sands in Vegas and shoots craps with that devilish left hand. He wins a shit ton of money.

Jennifer follows him to Vegas where she learned of his presence there from a newspaper article about how Mark Baines is in a hot streak and a big winner at the Sands. Mark eventually leaves with a woman who is a honey pot and helps another man knock him out and drive him out into the desert to ask him how he was able to throw 23 straight passes without switching the dice at the table.

We should talk a little bit about who this pair is, or at least who plays the pair. Frankie, the guy who wants to know about how Mark is pulling this off, is Ted White. Ted White was a character actor, but best known as a stuntman. If you were a stuntman during the 80s, it’s probably going to become somewhat likely that you will play a masked slasher killer at some point. Ted White played maybe the best known of them all – Jason Voorhees. He played Jason in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. That’s a pretty damn good one and one that kicked off a trio of films featuring the character Tommy Jarvis. In that film, Tommy was played by Corey Feldman. It’s said that White thought Feldman was a bit of a brat and would have liked to have done some real-life Jason Voorhees stuff to the kid.

White’s stunt work is rather extensive. He did work for Escape from New York, a couple of the Fast and Furious movies, the 1976 King Kong, Road House, and a ton more. As for the honey pot, Angela, that was with him to kidnap Mark, I thought I recognized her. That beauty is none other than Russ Meyer alum Haji. We’ve seen Haji before when I covered some of Meyer’s flicks. Haji wasn’t in many movies, but she usually stood out with her kind of exotic looks that featured an olive complexion and very light brown eyes. She often stood out and certainly Meyer used that to the best of his abilities.

Anyway, Frankie makes an offer – tell him how he’s able to shoot craps like he did and they’ll all get out of there rich and happy, or he’ll cut off Mark’s hands. The devil hand takes matters into its own, um, hand, and kills Frankie before turning on Angela and smashing her face to bits causing her to die kind of horribly. Mark realizes that something is wrong, and tries cutting off his possessed hand. The hand protects itself and causes Mark to scorch himself with gasoline and a lantern. As he burned, the hand buried itself in the sand to stay protected.

Jennifer finds out that the woman Mark was last seen with was found dead. She finds out that the other body belonged to Frankie who was a lifelong criminal, and possible hater of Corey Feldman. A third body was believed to belong to someone who lived in the neighboring shack next to the one that Frankie and Angela took Mark to. She refuses to believe that third body wasn’t her husband. The police tell her to go to the church in Inglewood, California where Father Cunningham (Whitman) performed the burial.

Jennifer asks Father Cunningham if he actually ever saw the body. He says no. She asks then if an autopsy was ever performed. Father Cunningham says it wasn’t necessary… you know, because the body was a pretty crispy critter? She insists that the body be exhumed. Father Cunningham says she’ll need proper clearance from the authorities because, legally, the opening of a grave is quite complicated.

She asks to see the grave, and before they can get there, Mark reanimates and busts out of his grave. They examine the empty grave to see that it wasn’t dug up, it was dug out. The coffin is also splintered as if it exploded out. Father Cunningham refuses to believe anything other than this is an act of vandalism. He calls the police and tells a cop he’s friendly with where he’ll find the disturbed grave. The cop goes to take a look, and what he finds is… pretty gross.

Mark’s charred corpse has crawled to the cop’s car where it disposes of the possessed hand. The hand called the cop back to his car by honking the horn so the hand could possess him. Father Cunningham and Jennifer find the corpse but couldn’t stop the cop from driving off after they heard gunshots.

Father Cunningham meets up with the cop, Leo, the next day at the boxing gym. Leo says he didn’t hear any gunshots but doesn’t really have an answer for why he took off so quickly. Leo is acting kind of cagey with the priest. As Leo watches Father Cunningham work the bag, he suggests they should spar for a bit in the ring. Leo starts landing some pretty hefty blows with that new left hand of his until Father Cunningham’s crucifix wards him off.

Father Cunningham seemingly starts thinking things over. However, just a little bit later, he meets up with Jennifer and she wants to know if maybe Leo was possessed by the hand. Father Cunningham basically says she’s distraught and attempting to find reason for everything that’s happened and that there is no devil hand. When she walks off to go back to her hotel room, Leo approaches her and tells her that the car she’s rented is stolen and arrests her on the spot to take her downtown for questioning. She asks what the hell this is all about, he says she knows what this is about.

I’ll say one thing about this moment in the movie, as pictured above. Allow me to start by saying that Demonoid is fairly unremarkable as a movie. It feels a tad more like a TV movie than it does a feature. It’s not exactly shot well. It’s a little stilted in its acting. It’s just kind of bland. However, there are times in which things get a little interesting. The charred corpse was cool. But this above is maybe one of the best thought out moments in the entire thing. You have a hand that’s possessed a cop. That cop has some authority and uses it. He’s kind of menacing. Think the T-1000 in Terminator 2. We have Samantha Eggar trying to signal to the biker behind the cop car for help. The cop is looking in the rearview mirror in a menacing way. All the while, what’s he driving with? The left hand that is possessing him. That’s actually a pretty decent thought to leave that guy’s left hand in the shot at all times. It’s the thing that isn’t just driving the car, but what actual drama and suspense there is in this movie.

The cop doesn’t take her to the station, but to a clinic. He tells the doctor to cut his hand off or he’ll kill them. He cuffs Jennifer to a chair and tells her that he’s going to give her the hand. She set it free, it’s hers to keep, and she’s its to possess. Leo doesn’t resist having the hand removed from him. Clearly it knows it’s going to have another host soon, so he doesn’t shoot the nurse or the doctor performing the procedure.

After thinking and praying over why Jennifer was sent to him, he tries calling her at her hotel. Of course, she’s not there. Instead, she’s at this clinic watching Leo slowly approach with his hand to possess her. And we finally get some pretty bonkers shit in this movie. First, we gotta get rid of the sexy, big-titty nurse.

Then, we gotta have Leo’s possessed hand attack Leo.

Finally, Leo’s possessed hand needs to crush Leo’s face and snap his neck like a twig.

Bravo, movie. You finally kind of did something that feels kind of interesting and unique. You took 45 minutes to get there, but cool. I will say that in that first gif above, you can definitely see the wires pulling the prop hand off the tray to go to the gun. Anyway, let’s also think about this for a second. Why did the hand feel the need to shoot the big-titty nurse? Because she thought this shit was kind of gross? I guess. Seems a bit petty if you’re a literal demon hand with all kinds of body possessing and face crushing powers. I also like how impatient the demon hand is. I thought the plan was for it to possess Samantha Eggar. I guess it didn’t feel like crawling all the fucking way across the room to her so it just possesses the doctor anyway. After all, the doctor was trying to pull it off the cop’s face, so I guess it’s opportunistic and decided to go with that guy who was already touching it.

Wait… Maybe it can only possesses what is touching it once it rids itself of a host? Oh fuck it. Jennifer is able to slide the handcuff off the chair’s arm to try to get away. However, the doctor, now fully possessed, tracks her down and uses the anesthesia that was going to be used on Leo on her to knock her out. He carries her to the operating room.

That night, Father Cunningham notices Jennifer’s rental car is still parked outside the church. He finds the hand container in her front seat. Father Cunningham calls the cops and the patrolman takes him to the plastic surgeon clinic where the doctor is planning on cutting off his arm to give the hand to Jennifer. The doctor escapes and knocks over the patrolman who brought Father Cunningham here. Thus begins our exciting police chase that has some bitchin’ late 70s-early 80s cop action music.

Man, this movie is dumb. I mean it started kind of, like I said, unremarkable. But now it’s gone fully dumb and kind of living its best life as this incredibly dumb movie. We had a cop get attacked by his own hand after it killed a big-titty nurse. Now it’s playing out like a really weird Halloween episode of T.J. Hooker. Anyway, so the hand liberated itself from the doctor’s body and hopped a train like a hobo.

Jennifer explains to Father Cunningham that because it was she and Mark that ultimately freed it, it basically belongs to them. Once Mark died, the hand now wants to come back to her and it feels as though it belongs to her. So it is going to find a way to work back to her until they put it back into that hand container.

That night, Jennifer discovers the hand waiting for her in her hotel room. Father Cunningham, after realizing that the hand possessed someone else and had to be nearby to her, returns to save her from the hand. He brings her back to his church. Now you might think that clearly they are safe, but, oh lordy you underestimate that hand. It hitched a ride by launching itself onto the back of Father Cunningham’s car and held on for dear life.

Once at the church, it cut off the phone and the electricity. Once it trapped Jennifer and Father Cunningham inside the church, it starts to kind of mess with the pair by making a cold wind blow through the building and blow out all the candles and stuff. Now, this is what gets me… Earlier, the hand was afraid of Father Cunningham’s crucifix, right? When it was possessing Leo and they were boxing? Now it clearly has no issue with the church that is flooded with iconography of churchy shit. Also, it seems to be exerting some sort of power inside this church. Doesn’t that kind of make the church, the religion, the Jeebus, the everything kind of useless against the devil hand?

Well, at the very least it seems that Father Cunningham is useless against the hand.

So, yeah. The hand attacks Father Cunningham and it’s about to either kill or possess the priest when Jennifer begs the hand to take her not him. It starts to crawl toward Jennifer when Father Cunningham grabs it and it possesses him anyway. Now, I guess you could say that Father Cunningham did, a couple times, make it seem like maybe he’s got some crisis of faith going on in the sense that he seems to be a little rudderless, but… the movie didn’t really lay the groundwork to make it seem like he would be powerless to stop the hand from taking him over?

Also, all this is possible because Jennifer wanted to capture the hand in the hand container again in the hotel room. However, the hand somehow was able to destroy the container. How? Again, the hand was put off by things like the cross and the container, but I guess that shit didn’t bother it in these final 20 minutes or so of this movie. I guess it needed to not be so easily defeated by shit like hand containers and Jeebs even though it was deterred earlier on by these things. Oh fuck it.

So Father Cunningham has the power of the HAND and wants to keep that power by killing Jennifer so that it can rightfully belong to him. He begins chasing after her in the church, but to show that he is a bad dude now, he starts trashing the place too. Fuckin’ metal.

I mean, it’s only the left hand. Left hands are useless. Even to left-handed people! You ever see them writing in a notebook without smearing shit all over the place? Left-handed people need special scissors and special backwards notebooks. They’re a wreck. This hand isn’t going to do much more than just be extra weirdo for everyone regardless of your dominance.

Father Cunningham is nearly able to kill Jennifer to keep the hand for himself, but she maneuvers in a way that ultimately causes him to stab himself in that left hand. Momentarily free from the control of the hand, Father Cunningham uses a blowtorch to destroy the hand. That shit burns down to the bones. Father Cunningham survives and takes the ashes of the hand to the ocean and sprinkles it into the water.

Back at home, Jennifer hears a knock on the door, On the way there, she sees a bunch of water on the floor. The guy at the door has a package for her and she accepts it. She’s on her way back into her study with the package when she spots seaweed in the puddle. Before she opens the package, she finds more water on her desk. Inside the package is a weird black candle and it lights itself on fire when the hand, somehow reconstituted, suddenly attacks and ultimately kills Jennifer by forcing her head through a glass table.

Boy… I guess that’s one pretty powerful devil hand, huh?

Anyway, Demonoid isn’t a particularly good movie. It has its moments. It certainly has a good idea. There’s this cult that follows a one-handed demon devil. That demon devil dude apparently has the ability to possess people by way of that left hand he’s missing. I don’t know exactly how bad the hand was. The most we saw the hand do was do a bunch of gambling. It only killed when 1) it was threatened and 2) it wanted to be delivered back to Jennifer. If anyone else was particularly murderous, it was because they coveted the power, or whatever it was, that the hand gave the person. So what the hand was REALLY good at was shooting craps? That doesn’t seem too bad. The cop only sparred a little too roughly with Father Cunningham. The whole abuse of cop powers was to get Jennifer to the clinic to ultimately get the hand herself.

I guess the hand did shoot the big-titty nurse. That was evil. She was a looker. But she was also possibly going to spill the beans to, uh, I guess somebody who could then pose a threat to the hand? Eh, I dunno.

I do know the back half of this movie was where it really got either decent or goofy or both. I can dig that part of the movie. We’ve got the bonkers shit going down at the plastic surgery clinic. We got the T.J. Hooker style chase and cop show music. Those parts I was perfectly fine with. It’s no bees telling John Saxon he needs to go talk to the United Nations about giving the bees a sovereign status, but I guess the chase segment of this movie will do nicely.

I guess it’s time to hand this one off to the next review. Next time, I’m serving up another review for a movie that I’ve held off for a little too long. I’ve been sitting on a copy of 1983’s House on the Edge of the Park starring David Hess of Last House on the Left fame and directed by the infamous Ruggero Deodato of Cannibal Holocaust fame. So, until next week, no matter what, no matter how great you think the handy will be from a demon devil hand might be, for the love all that is super rad, do not free it from its hand container, got it?

2 thoughts on “Demonoid (1981)

  1. Oh hell yeah! Remember going to see this when it came out, just on the strength of the title. Couldn’t believe how lame the actual film was.
    Still one of the most metal movie names ever, though. In fact I’d 100% go to a gig with Demonoid on the bill. Maybe they could open for Ghost.

    Liked by 1 person

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