A French Belgium co-production, DEMONIACS (Les Démoniaques) was primarily shot on the Island of Chausey in Manche, Normandy. Working with a slightly larger budget than he was used to, the location provided director Jean Rollin with several impressive coastlines to choose and take advantage from, the end result of which features some of his most impressive visuals. While the plot may be cloudy, Rollin's set pieces are strikingly clear, framing landscapes, both on the beach and within an impressive collection of overgrown ruins that are among his finest. With a wink and nod to the swashbuckling adventure yarns of the 1950s, DEMONIACS spins a tale of pirates, demons and random clowns that only Jean Rollin could somehow pull off.Paul (Paul Bisciglia, THE GRAPES OF DEATH), Bosco (Willy Braque, LIPS OF BLOOD), Tina (Joëlle Coeur, SEVEN WOMEN FOR SATAN) and the Captain (John Rico) are a small band of pirates known as The Wreckers. A motley crew of pillagers, The Wreckers earn their keep by coaxing ships aground by misled guide lights, whereupon the band of pilfers gather up any and all items of wealth that find themselves washed ashore. One night, having tricked a ship to its watery grave, the crew of bandits stumbles upon more than a few simple trinkets and charms while rummaging through the fresh batch of wreckage. A pair of mute freighted young girls (Lieva Lone and Patricia Hermenier), apparent survivors of the Wreckers' most recent handiwork, stagger their way down the beach, unaware they are about to request refuge from the very scoundrels which tossed them overboard. Weak and naive, the pair barely has time to catch their breath before Paul, Bosco and the Captain accost and rape the two, riled on by the treacherous Tina. Leaving the pair for dead, The Captain and his crew retreat to the local watering hole for the night, but visions of the girls begin to haunt the Captain, driving him into a panic. Determined to dispose of the young victims, the gang returns to the beach where they trap the pair in a decaying hull of a grounded vessel. Setting the wreck ablaze, the pirates chase the wounded girls down the coast, straight into the ruins of a cursed temple.
Inside the ruins, the twosome are greeted by a clown (Mireille Dargent, CAGED VIRGINS) who helps guide the duo deeper into the decaying castle and closer to the one who can grant them the power in which to enact their revenge. Rollin must have found Dargent an outstanding clown, as she would find herself in similar make-up a few years later in THE IRON ROSE (La Rose de fer). Once inside, the pale pair are told of a powerful entity, trapped within the ruins that only they can set free. If freed, this demon would be able to grant them supernatural abilities that would ensure swift vengeance towards the marauders that wrecked their ship and ravaged their bodies. Giving themselves over to the suave demon, the young pair trades their virtue for just such power, hoping to seal the final fate of The Wreckers. Such power is however limited, fading at night's end and with dawn only a few hours away, the young girls will have to hurry if they are to track down the band of pirates and taste their bloody revenge.
Rollin's attempt at incorporating swashbuckling elements into his tried
and true formula of trancelike erotic horror succeeds in as so much that the
gang of "Wreckers" come across as particularly nasty cutthroats, worthy
of any good pirate tale. Introduced via an opening role call that bares comparison
to the opening credits of "Gilligan’s Island", the band of callus
rogues is relentless in their pursuit of booty (pardon the pun) and, particularly
in the case of the Captain, self-preservation. Fear of the twins' reprisal,
be it earthly or from beyond the grave, becomes a driving force for the Captain,
altering his mind in a way that leaves one to wonder if half of the film's action
is not merely taking place solely within the confines of The Captain's psyche.
Given the expressionistic style and minimalist dialogue, John Rico’s over
the top performance as the Captain is quite apt and effective, his manic and
contorting facial expressions saying more about his character and fanatical
mindset than any lines spoken. However, if any actor stands out in DEMONIACS,
it is without questions Joëlle Coeur as the devilishly seductive Tina.
A painter by trade, Joëlle first worked with Rollin on SCHOOLGIRL HITCHHIKERS (Jeunes filles impudiques) followed a year later by a leading role in BACCHANALES SEXUELLES. Joëlle is an arresting beauty, whose performance is bound to stir up more than one's emotions. Nude, if not at least topless for the majority of the film, Tina is one of Rollin’s most ruthless creations. Hostile and antagonistic, Tina guides the men in her crew like a demonic Jiminy Cricket, enticing them to rape and pillage, all the while fondling herself to the rhythm of the carnage. As striking as Joëlle is in her birthday suit, I would dare to say that her most erotic scenes are those where she is semi-clothed as compared to fully nude. I know, it doesn’t make any sense, but there’s something about the way her thin, white blouse hangs open over her bosom that shivers me timbers.
upgrades its previous, 1999 release of DEMONIACS (through Image Entertainment)
with an anamorphic widescreen presentation, in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, that may
be its best to date. The print is noticeably clean and crisp, with naturalistic
fleshtones and deep black levels. Colors are accurate and well defined and detail
is strong throughout. Audio is presented in a French language mono track with
solid dialogue and only a minor distance hiss that is really only noticeable
during several long stretches that are sans dialogue. If I have any quarrel
about this release it would be that the English subtitles are far too small,
often blending together words.
Extras include the film's original theatrical trailer, a modest collection of stills and four steamy deleted scenes. In total the omitted French language scenes make up for about 20 minutes of softcore action, three of which are devoted to the naked antics of Joelle Coeur. The first scene is presented with no sound (not that it's needed) and features a gangly pirate’s bedroom session with a young tavern waitress. The second and longest scene is an extended cut of Tina and The Captain attempting to forget their troubles with an impromptu lovemaking session. While Joelle is a sight to behold, the scene is ruined by the brutish John Rico, smothering the luscious Joelle with his large, flaccid frame. The third scene again highlights Joelle Coeur, this time as she masturbates on the rocks and seaweed while her male cohorts molest the young shipwrecked twins. Joelle, withering in bliss, gripping her bosom and moaning in ecstasy is damn near worth the price of this release alone. The last and shortest clip is a brief, much more explicit shot of Joelle's seaside masturbation. The scene is an apparent import from the "Encore Collectors Edition" that was released in the Netherlands in 2005, as all close-ups feature a "copyright encore films" watermark. I had no idea you could copyright a vagina. A small handful of other Redemption trailers round out another memorable journey into the sexual dream world of a true auteur. (Jason McElreath)
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