At the height of the indie-flick boom of the late ’90s and early 2000s, filmmaker Chris Smith released a documentary titled American Movie, which took the piss out of no-budget cinema by introducing viewers to Mark Borchardt, a hopelessly untalented Midwesterner who makes godawful horror movies. For all the world’s high-minded talk about how anyone can make a film, alas, there’s still a reason why most of the features that get widespread attention are made within the Hollywood system. Amateurs tend to be, you know, amateurish. This context is useful for discussing a 1977 atrocity titled The Demon Lover, which has exactly the same grungy vibe as Mark Borchardt’s magnum opus, Coven. Shot in rural Michigan with a cast mostly comprising doughy Midwesterners, The Demon Lover concerns a coven leader who freaks out when his acolytes refuse to have an orgy. (Never mind that the coven leader is an overweight slob in a mega-mullet who looks as if he spends his life attending Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts and eating at KFC—orgy material, he is not.) Every single cliché of amateur horror is present in The Demon Lover: a demon costume that looks like a third-grader’s art project, George A. Romero-style gore created by fanboys who believe all they need for realism is caro syrup and ingenuity, sets featuring the anemic issue of low-rent smoke machines, weird voices on the soundtrack employed to create the illusion of tension, and so on. It’s all quite embarrassing to watch. Nonetheless, sporting viewers could easily derive 83 minutes of MST3K-style amusement from watching this train wreck, which is occasionally marketed as The Devil Master. The performances are delightfully incompetent, the pacing is nonexistent, the shock scenes are laughably cheap-looking, and the movie even features such choice dialogue as the following: “I don’t care if you drop Bufferin in your tea, I just want to talk!” One can only imagine how mortified the participants were upon seeing the final product.
The Demon Lover: SQUARE