Pack: Tomb of Terrors
Subgenre(s): Slasher, Supernatural, Demonic
Length: 78 minutes
Director: Charles T. Lang
Writer: Charles T. Lang
Starring: Sky Daniel, Garry Godfrey, Harold Allen
Synopsis: As a lark before a party on Halloween, two teenagers dig up a gargoyle statue. However, they unleash a murderous demon.
|I'm not saying it's a gargoyle, but it's a gargoyle.|
|"Don't tell my heart, my achy breaky heart..."|
|I wonder where the exit is?|
Review: In spite of being an obvious clone of Night of the Demons and looking like it belongs to the mid-'80s, Soul of the Demon isn't a bad movie at all. It's full of big hair, trendy "soft rock" music, and predictable teenagers who are all older than their characters, but it's the gore which really makes this stand out.
I honestly didn't expect such variety and inventive deaths (albeit with some ideas possibly borrowed from Italian movies) in a low-budget indie horror movie. There are some very clever effects including an exploding head, a couple of bodies torn in half, and even a sliced-in-half head with the eyes still moving that does better as a practical effect than the CGI version in Wrong Turn (2003). Some of the effects aren't so hot, and the demon mask/make-up is quite stiff, but overall, it's impressive work.
Even the acting is reasonably good although the two boys at the start, Joey (Sky Daniel) and Toby (Garry Godfrey), are far more interesting and have better chemistry together than anyone else. If you are a fan of The Willies (1990), or even The Goonies, The Monster Squad or Stand By Me, the same vibe is going on here. Joey almost makes it into the great "teenage horror fans in movies" list (which includes Mark Petrie from Salem's Lot and Michael from Brainscan) except that he has very poor taste in movies according to the posters which decorate his bedroom. If only he'd watched something better than Halloween 4 and The Blob, maybe things would have turned out better for him.
Production values are initially very good until the older brother, Joey (John Bonito), leaves the house to play basketball with his friends. The pacing is all wrong and the shot framing isn't so great which gives away the fact that this is an "indie horror" rather than something truly worthwhile. Shooting against the sun is a schoolboy error for sure. When the "teenagers" and their girlfriends end up partying in an abandoned house, a necessary lighting crew is completely non-existent.
If it wasn't for the gloominess of the main action following the séance, Soul of the Demon would score very high marks indeed. As it is, it's become a cult film in its own right, but it could have been so much more.
The girls aren't anything to write home about, and there's no nudity, but the guys are a good-looking bunch if you are that way inclined and like mullets. All of them can act a little bit although it's obvious why 99% of them never tried to act again. Maybe they did try but got knocked back and washed their hands of it. Who knows? Acting isn't such a great career choice for anyone, and I can tell you that from experience.
Soul of the Demon is very formulaic with all the stereotypes, clichés and tropes that have been done to death in every slasher movie ever made. That doesn't make it bad, but it does knock off a lot of points for originality. The twist at the end isn't too predictable, and at least it doesn't have a useless epilogue tacked on to ruin the punchline.
I'm not going to spoil Soul of the Demon by giving away any more details. Suffice it to say that it's the occasional gem like this which makes the Pendulum Pictures multipacks worth every penny.
Most Memorable Moment(s): The two boys finding the demon in a box by the lake at the start. It looks like (but isn't) the same lake from Creepshow 2 (1987).
Originality: Very similar to Night of the Demons (1988) but with much better gore.
Best Line(s): "I'm never coming to another party with you for as long as I live!"
Worst Line(s): "Smells like some righteous doo-doo, man!"
Best Effect(s): When Mike's head explodes.
Worst Effect(s): The demon animation near the end.
Goriness (out of 10): 7
Sexiness (out of 10): 2
Profanities (out of 10): 1
Hottest Actor/Actress: Traci Lera-Michelin as Rhonda.
|"Come on baby, light my fire."|
Picture Quality: Below average, worn VHS quality (4:3 ratio)
Audio Quality: Average
Rating (out of 10): 6
IMDb or Wiki: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0241973/
Final Thoughts: Surprisingly good and a lot gorier than I expected.