Black Demons (1991)

Umberto Lenzi‘s Black Demons is notable because it’s a zombie movie where even the zombies can’t act. When you think about it, that’s really a hard thing to accomplish. I mean, how hard is it to shamble around with glop dripping off your face while some ugly, no-name starlet is tripping over some imaginary tree stump in the front yard of her isolated Brazilian villa? For the six guys they pulled out of the mission and dressed up in fake eyeballs, it turned out to be nigh impossible.

Just six guys? Well, this isn’t your typical zombie deal where a meteor landed on the heads of some corpses or a secret government nerve agent got tipped over in a graveyard. These zombies have been brought back to un-life through the machinations of a headache-inducing voodoo ritual that involved a lot people gyrating around and playing the drums.

Once back, they seek revenge for their own death a century ago. As it was so clumsily explained through some dull exposition, they were slaves who tried to rebel, but got blinded and hanged. Now they are looking for six white people to kill to even the score.

The zombies though are really only a minor bit of the trouble as it relates to the general quality of the film though. This movie comes across as a “bad acting derby” as soon as it starts when we meet our three main characters, Kevin, Jessica, and the unfortunately named Dick.

The funniest bits in the movie were whenever someone was looking for Dick and had to yell over and over “Dick! Dick! Has anyone seen Dick?” The best one though had to be when Kevin and Jessie had all their stuff packed but couldn’t locate Dick. Kevin says, “I see his bag, but I don’t see Dick.”

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The first thing you notice about these three is their looks. Kevin is apparently an English guy who has feathered hair and looks like a Italian horror version of Ted McGinley.

Dick (Joe Balogh from Lenzi’s Hitcher in the Dark) is a repulsive skinny guy who dresses in that late eighties style that involves brand new blue jeans, a royal blue Izod tucked into his dungarees and a short white jacket only a preppie sissy boy would ever be caught dead in. He spends his time pouting about how they are running around Brazil like regular old tourists, instead of hooking up with black magic priests and voodoo witch doctors and stuff.

His half-sister Jessica is far and away the single worst performer in the movie (or in any movie for that matter) and utters her lines with all the nuance of a Speak-N-Spell.

One wrecked Jeep later and all three are crashing at the villa where the slaves were hanged years ago. Dick has gone and gotten himself an audio tape of this voodoo ceremony he went to the night before and once he’s at the cursed villa he gets bored and decides to relax by listening to some good old fashioned Macumba music.

At the haunted villa there is a mysterious housekeeper named Maria who gives Dick the evil eye because he smells like Macumba. The most mysterious thing to me about Maria was how she kept her job as housekeeper since there was this big tarantula crawling around on the living room wall!

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Dick heads out to the graveyard full of executed slaves that’s in the backyard and plays his favorite Macumba tune and it somehow has the effect of turning on a fog machine.

Then all the graves (and by all, I of course mean six) open up and the slaves come out and wander around. They all still have chains on their feet and each of them sports a particular weapon.

One has a knife, one an axe, one has a hook, and so on. I have no idea where they got these things since I find it difficult to believe they were buried with them.

These zombies aren’t terribly impressive and for some reason they sneak around like some kind of slasher, even though their chains make a ridiculous clanging noise as they get dragged across the grass. There’s even a few moments where you’ll giggle as you catch the facial expressions of these zombies and they seem to be saying, “Uh oh! I think they almost saw me! I better slip out of sight!”

Everything ends when Kevin announces that the only way to defeat the undead is by fire. How he knew this (especially since he and his posse spent the bulk of the movie babbling about how it was almost the twenty-first century and they didn’t believe in revenge-seeking-slave-zombies) I don’t know, but I’m sure glad he did!

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Kevin makes a bunch of magical Molotov cocktails and heaves them at the zombies. I say that they were magical because even though they might land six feet in front of the zombie, they still managed to explode with a thunderous boom and engulf the zombie in flame. One time, the cocktail even managed to explode several times!

Like Shriek Show’s Zombie 4: After Death, the interview of the director alone makes the DVD a must have. Lenzi (Ghosthouse, House Of Witchcraft) admits that Black Demons didn’t really turn out as great as he would have hoped and he spends much of the interview complaining that everyone in the movie sucked except Dick!

He called the guy who played Kevin a “fool”, but reserved his harshest comments for the gal that played Jessica. She was a last minute replacement for someone good looking that could act and Lenzi says that in addition to being a “mediocre” actress, Jessica was “short and unattractive.”

If that wasn’t enough he follows it up with a story about she had personal problems on the set that stemmed from drinking milk that wasn’t pasteurized. She got so sick, they all thought she had AIDS! Exactly! If this gal wasn’t so short, ugly, and didn’t drink poisoned milk, this film would have been awesome! Thanks for ruining an otherwise hideously incompetent and nonstop painful viewing experience with your total and complete suckiness, Jessica!

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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