Demon Keeper

A phony clairvoyant accidentally unleashes a killer spirit on his clients in this budget horror effort from the King of the B-Movie himself, Roger Corman.

This opens with a bizarre sequence in which robed dudes tie up a witch for the crime of using her body as the “the Devil’s post.” We don’t find out what that means, but the punishment involves setting fire to the confused offender after rendering her topless. The leader of the group decides to remove a talisman from around the witch’s neck and promptly regrets that decision, as she responds by projectile vomiting orange beams of energy which kill half of the crowd. Some corks just won’t go back in the bottle.

Next, we jump to present-day Connecticut, where we meet characters who desperately need a psychic. Chris and Dia need one because their marriage is breaking up due to Dia’s alcoholism and fondness for bar studs who are willing to ply her with booze. Then there is the rich widow who misses her husband but should really concentrate on ditching her money-hungry attorney, who is owing a local mobster for a steep gambling debt. Finally, we have a real psychic named Alexander. He’s a certified ESP master who comes complete with a Dr. Strange goatee and faux English accent.

Fearing that his usual séance will be exposed by Alexander, Remy decides to go with a simple conjuring spell from an ancient text. This turns out to be a very bad idea. The spell actually works and a demon named Asmodeus is now in the house. He has a special talent for possessing humans via their weaknesses and then using the host to kill the nearest human. Considering that this group lacks a moral focus, Asmodeus’ only concern is where to start the carnage.

This turns out to be pretty entertaining thanks to Corman. He makes sure that the director, Joe Tornatore, follows his playbook, which includes a blood-soaked opening, lots of potential victims, and a nude scene every time the movie starts to get bogged down. Unfortunately, it looks like Corman cancelled this flick a few days before it was set to finish shooting in an effort to avoid going over budget. It is pretty obvious since the last kill is a cheezy sword killing, shown in silhouette, and the Demon vs. Alexander finale is ended before it starts with a convenient lightning strike.

Corman had a deal to shoot on the cheap in Sun City, Africa, when this was made, so you are also in for a Connecticut setting that bears no relation to the actual state. It also explains why no one sounds American except for the two leads.

Edward Albert tries hard as Remy and delivers his lines with conviction, but he is undermined by Dirk (“The A-Team”) Benedict, as Alexander. Dirk phones this one in and does a total William Shatner on his dialogue by stretching out every sentence so slowly you would think he was back on set after a three Quaalude lunch.

Fun and economical. I say that because the film only costs around six bucks new and it is only 75 minutes long, despite a 90-minute listed running time. Don’t worry though, ‘cause it feels like a three-hour movie, so you really win out in the end.