AKA: Demons III
Director: Lumberto Bava
Starring: Virginia Bryant, Sabrina Ferilli, Paolo Malco, Patrizio Vinci. Italy. 1h 34m
So many classic horror novels are produced from the bizarre dream of the writer, Frankenstein was a fever dream so powerful that Mary Shelly had to get the essence down on paper in a male dominated world, going against the grain she knew that her unique mix of man playing god and the promise of some dark everlasting life was literary gold. Other writers have often marveled how they bring their nightmares and dreams to live in their writing and films, which is the premise of this scrawny horror. Made for TV in the mid 80’s there’s a lot of 70’s backlash in this Bava effort, which made up a trilogy of direct to video/tv film series.
Bava uses the tried and tested Giallo theme of an American visiting Italy and discovering something gruesome but with a slight twist, Cheryl (Bryant) is a inexhaustible horror writer, who is visiting Italy with her husband and young son Bobby (which seems to be a popular name for Italian directors to use for American kids). The film opens with her awaking in the night as a child in her home in Portland Oregon, hearing strange noises she discovers a pulsating painting that reaches out to her and a green glowing ogre embryo growing from the ceiling. It’s enough to freak out any adult but it really traumatised Cheryl, but despite this startling childhood encounter she becomes a horror writer, and while feeling burnt out she travels half way across the planet with her family to get into her next novel but once she discovers her childhood teddy bear in the cellar of their gorgeous rustic villa all of the fear from the past comes crashing down on her.
Visually the film is quite charming, the setting of the partly abandoned and dusty Italian home is on par with the aged mansion in other classics like Castle Freak or Burial Ground, it pretty much helped write the movies mood, and gives Bava the opportunity to make things that touch more disturbing, in some scenes bugs begin crawling all over the furniture, dropping off the taxidermy wall features, there’s long drapes and lots that creak and bump in the night, making this an atypical gothic horror. The rest of the creepiness comes from the tinkling lullaby music which plays through the darkness while ?? ambles around the villa at night all wide eyed searching for the monster.
Night by night Cheryl creeps further around the grand mansion finding more disturbing evidence that the Ogre from her childhood is coming into creation along with anything else she writes while in a semi dreamlike state. This part of the story really brings it along line with J.S Cardone’s The Slayer (1982) where an artist’s nightmare creature comes to life when she’s asleep and begins killing her friends. Tensions begin to rise between Cheryl and her long suffering husband Tom (Malco) but once their child becomes a target they soon team up as a dynamic duo.
The script is a bit poor, but it’s forgivable, the worst sin of the movie is just the lack of Ogre goodness, there are a few glowing green footprints, a hand print in some flour, so obviously a similar creature to the chicken foot demon from Paranormal Activity () and the rest is a bit ambiguous until the bitter end, but the body of the movie is the psychological effects of a nightmare that becomes a haunting. Ogre struggles to be a viable creature feature and refuses to really deliver any gore or in your face horror, it’s slightly whimsical approach is so out of place for an 80’s horror movie and it feels as if it was something written for the previous decade but wasn’t updated for the new wave of horror experience, it’s still a charming horror drama after all these years but rightly it doesn’t deserve it’s original title of Demons III, this is an entirely different ball game.
R: The Slayer (1987), Demons (1985), Delirium (1987), Troll (1986)
L: Ogre films, Goblin Films, A_Z of Creature Features
Vs: Ogre vs Troll.