With 13 Days of Shot On Video I’ll be reviewing a new shot-on-video horror film every weekday for the last two weeks of October. You can view all entries HERE.
Despite clocking in at just an hour long (barely), Demon Queen still somehow manages to feel three or four times that length. Let’s take a look at the description straight from the box cover to get an idea of what we’re dealing with:
Lucinda is the ice cold, flesh eating, evil Demon Queen on a rampage of lust and terror… a sinister demon assassin who brutally murders her victims one by one. Jesse thinks he has escaped the bloody massacre but, for him is reserved the worst fate of all…
No friends, I assure you: the worst fate of all is reserved for we, the watchers of Demon Queen.
This is gonna be a shorter review than normal for two reasons: first, the length of the movie leaves less than enough material to expound upon. And second, I have no idea what it’s about.
After some requisite SOV snazzy opening credits, we’re introduced to Jesse. He’s a drug dealer who lives with a really terrible girlfriend and he apparently owes a lot of money to his supplier, a vertically-challenged pimp-type who makes up for his lack of height with major attitude.
One day, Jesse is confronted by this temperamental procurer and one of his surly henchmen. In the middle of beating Jesse up, the henchman is attacked by a mysterious woman, who ends up biting his throat out. Jesse comes to, sees the dead henchman, and realizes the woman has saved his life. She tells Jesse she needs a place to stay, so he offers to take her in. Naturally, Jesse’s awful girlfriend becomes very jealous and opposed to the idea, but the strange and peculiar woman is allowed to stay.
From there, the movie kind of just says up yours! to the audience and flies in all sorts of directions, willy nilly. The questions just start piling up:
- Is she actually a demon succubus or a vampire? Why does she like biting necks so much?
- The people she bites, do they turn into zombies? Monsters? Vampires? What the hell are they?
- Who is the other random unseen murderer that stalks and strangles that girl coming out of the video store?
Even by typical SOV standards, the movie doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The director tries to trick the audience by distracting them occasionally with a few glimpses of some major league yabbos, but in the end bare chests are not nearly enough to make the movie even slightly interesting. If you cut out the padding — which includes opening and closing credits, a few snooze-inducing love scenes, and one totally murky indecipherable night driving scene — you’re left with about 40 minutes of utterly head-scratching “plot”.
There are two redeeming things about the movie, however!
First: the special effects, as seen in the picture at the top of this article, are quite impressive. I mean, it’s not KNB or Tom Savini level stuff, but it’s decent enough that the director made sure to allow certain shots to linger (borderline excessively) on the gore. Hey man, when it’s really the only thing you got going for your flick, you gotta make it count! Gotta showcase it. Some good flesh tearing and heartbeat spurts of blood.
The second thing I appreciated was the video store schlub who popped up in a few scenes. Why were there scenes set in a video store? That part is unexplained. But the brief scenes with the VHS jockey do provide a bit of comic relief. You can tell the makers of Demon Queen are genre fans themselves, particularly during one scene where a girl comes in to rent something romantic: the video store geek counters with, “Perhaps I can suggest something you wouldn’t normally go for, something with Udo Kier….Michael Berryman?” It got a smirk out of me.
There’s also the curious case of the box art. I won’t get into it here, but I suggest you check out the storied history of that screaming woman from the cover. Pretty fascinating stuff, really!
For a movie that was supposedly shot in 4 days, I suppose Demon Queen could be a hell of a lot worse — but I’d probably only recommend it to the masochists who really get a kick out of true z-grade shot-on-video horrorstuff.