FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Sep 18, 2009

this is not my movie

Think on back with me, child, to that magical long-ago time called "earlier this week" when I reviewed a little sumpin' sumpin' called Cathy's Curse. Wasn't that a great day? It sure was. Unless I'm thinking about last week, when I had some frozen yogurt...or was that yesterday? Eh, I have no clue. My days tend to mush all together to form a big blob of amorphous solid (not unlike silly putty), only broken up by occasional trips to my mailbox or, when I'm feeling particularly wicked, the local branch of the library. But! I am not here to blather on and on about my glamourous life, no- I'm here to talk about...wait, what am I here to talk about?

Oh yeah! So listen, Cathy's Curse was a selection from my awesome 50-pack of Chilling Classics (or, as the package is labeled, "CHILLLING CLASSICS"), right? And when I took it out of my DVD player, guess what I noticed! I noticed that the B-side to Cathy's Curse is a little sumpin' sumpin' called The Demons of Ludlow. Imagine my surprise! Go on, imagine it. IMAGINE IT I SAY.

Now, to those few of you who're all, "What's the big effing deal about a movie called The Demons of Ludlow?", well, if you'd been paying attention around here you'd know that I recently made a movie called Ludlow. So now you know what the big effing deal is...and you, too, can imagine my surprise!

Reading the synopsis of the 1983 film clued me in that it has nothing in common with my movie, save a bit of the title...but still, I had to size up my competition in my quest to claim the sweet, sweet Ludlow pie.

I'm sorry, that doesn't make much sense. I'm gonna tell you right now: none of this post will make much sense because boy oh boy, I'm in a mood. I've been really hyper today, and I've had an inordinate amount of there's no telling what might happen. Bear with me...but don't worry, The Demons of Ludlow makes no sense either, so who the frig cares what I write about it?

As the helpful banner indicates, the town of Ludlow is celebrating its bicentennial. It's a right ol' hoe-down!

The Mayor...or whoever he is...gets up to give his little speech about how wonderful it is that Ludlow is one of the oldest settlements- one of the very first!- in the United States. Never mind that by 1783 the entire Eastern seaboard had long been settled already- Ludlow is 200 years old and one of the very first, dammit! When the Mayor claims they're all one big, happy family, it's clear that the crowd enthusiastically agrees. My heart shed a crystalline tear, for I was so very touched by their response.

Anyway, it seems that a descendant of Mr. Ludlow, the town founder, has sent a gift- all the way from England!- to commemorate this momentous occasion. It's a beautiful (not at all tacky) white piano...and when someone busts out a few tunes, the citizens of Ludlow are so fucking dazzled you could just puke.

It's worth noting that this magical white piano sounds an awful lot like a Casio keyboard set to "organ".

Now then, let's meet some of the town's finest, shall we? There's...
  • The Mayor, who we already know...
  • The Writer, who was raised in Ludlow until she was nine- but now she's back and she's nosy and she knows there's something hinky 'bout that piano...
  • The Reverend, who knows that Ludlow has a secret...
  • The Horny Teens, who sneak off to a barn to make out...and make out they do, until a green glowing hand rises out of the ground and...smears hay and chocolate sauce on the girl's stomach ...
  • The Weirdo, who is either mentally ill or mentally stunted (it's never really specified)- either way, she spends a lot of time talking to her POSITIVELY EERIE doll collection...

...which includes Smurfette.

Once the piano is played, bad things start happening in Ludlow- or, at least, bad things kinda happen every twelve minutes or so. Thank goodness the scares were so spaced out, 'cause I don't think my nerves could stand a full 90 minutes of such unrelenting terror! It was hard enough to make it through sequences such as...

The one where a poker floats in the air, takes a swing at The Reverend, and WHIFFS!

Or the one where the piano ekes out a teeny tiny amount of blood!

Or the one where The Weirdo's Mom gets pulled up into the ceiling after a couple of colonial chicks throw a noose around her neck!

Or the one where The Weirdo has a flashback to Ye Olde days, when people engaged in such debauched behavior as eating copious amounts of bread and engaging in powdered wiggery!

It seriously looks like someone from the FX or costume department took a trip to the Halloween Store and stocked up on blood, "witch nails", and "Billy Bob teeth". I am not saying this is a bad thing, I am just saying.

Now, I realize I've made The Demons of Ludlow look like it's jam-packed with action, thrills, and frights so frightening your eyeballs will pee their pants in fright...and while that may be true for the scintillating sequences I've relayed above, the truth of the matter is that this movie is boring with a capital DULL. The Writer tries to piece things together regarding the piano's history and Mr. Ludlow, but she never gets anywhere beyond "He did something and was exiled to England". Meanwhile, The Reverend is concerned that people are dying, but in typical jerk Mayor fashion, The Mayor doesn't want to cancel the parade piano festival just because there are a few dead bodies around. I'm gonna be honest: once this flick hit 59 minutes and I was bored outta my gourd, I hit the FF button, only stopping when it looked like something was happening. I was tired of all the blah blah blah- so sue me! This is the last half hour of The Demons of Ludlow, on speed:

A tree stump explodes- repeatedly- in a shower of fireworks.

The piano plays itself.

Some Three Musketeers-looking dudes show up and cut off The Mayor's head.

The piano loses a leg for no reason and starts to smoke.

This dude shows up.

The Writer is suddenly in Ye Olde Clothes...she runs about Ludlow, encountering colonials with poor dental work everywhere she turns.

The Writer cannot escape because there's some sort of force field around Ludlow...but then a car drives through it- and her- and she's back in her regular clothes.

She falls down, the driver of the car goes to her...freeze frame THE END.

You know that if this movie was so bad it was good, I'd tell you, right? I would, because I'm here to spread the love, friendos. I know you're looking at those pictures up there, thinking that exploding tree stumps are just what you need to cure what ails ya- but trust me, The Demons of Ludlow is only gonna ail ya even worse. For every second of magical sparkles and fireworks, there's ten minutes of nothing. It's a disjointed mess that's a chore to sit through, even on fast forward. Reading this post is all the time you need to spend with this one, I'm sorry to say. And I swear, I'm not just saying that because I want to hog that sweet, sweet Ludlow pie all to myself...

...although I do wish I'd worked an exploding tree stump into my movie somehow.


Ben said...

I've got a VHS copy of "Demons of Ludlow" that's been knocking about for ages unwatched; it has a cool cover, but what little info I could find online suggested it was probably pretty worthless and boring, so I've just never bothered.

Despite your best efforts to further this notion though, your post actually makes it look/sound fantastic - I'm gonna go home and watch it TONIGHT!

Jason Adams said...

You don't have an exploding tree stump in your movie? I don't know, Stacie. That sounds dangerously like what you have there is an exploding-tree-stump-LESS movie. But at least you've got a Smurfette cameo, right?

... RIGHT???? Oh dear.

Marty McKee said...

Congratulations. You're now the second person in the world (after me) to see this horrible movie. I agree with everything you wrote. DEMONS was directed by Bill Rebane, who, THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION aside, may be the worst filmmaker who ever lived.

Stacie Ponder said...

@Ben- You've got me feeling all Crazy Ralph in here. Heed my warnings! You're dooooomed!!!

@JA- I know, I KNOW! Now I just feel like my Ludlow is an hour's worth of missed and/or wasted opportunities.

@Marty- The only other Rebane flick I'd seen before this is The Cold...which I love. It's atrocious, sure, but there's a shark in a swimming pool! It's inept on every level, but enjoyably so. I was hoping for the same here, but...err, didn't happen.

Honestly, I don't think he gets enough recognition as one of the worst- surely his terrible films are worth...some sort of attention?!

Daniel said...

If you simply must have an exploding tree stump, then put it on the cover of *your* Ludlow experience. I mean, if that other Ludlow movie can have a floating hand on its cover that has nothing to do with the contents of the actual movie, well, that's just precedent. You might even start a tradition.

"Hey, why is there a picture of a rubber duck on this Superman Returns Again poster?"

"We're Ludlowing it."


Megan said...

Dang, I was hoping this was going to turn into some crazy meta shit.

Pokemon Postmon said...

I'd completely forgotten about this film (probably for the best). Thanks for restoring that part of my noodle that carries the memories of sitting through this shocker! Your blog has done this to me several times. Any more flashbacks may induce 'From Beyond' like results as my frontal lobes try to escape the restraints of my skull in an effort to protect themselves from further harm.

Douglas A. Waltz said...

I've seen this flick. It was alright for what it was.

Antaeus Feldspar said...

Ah, "The Cold"... back when I thought I was going to be doing a regular column for a group blog (you can see the only part of it that ever saw the light of day here I planned on using "The Cold" for a future installment. (That 50-movie pack is really heavy on the Bill Rebane, isn't it?) I regret sometimes that I didn't go further with that column, so that I could have shared my experience watching the film:

"When the TV in the room invited viewers to stay tuned for the movie 'The Giant Spider Invasion', which was of course Rebane's own work, my first thought was the advice offered by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew: 'Never remind the audience of a good movie in the middle of your crappy movie.'

"My second thought was: 'My God, how far have you fallen when "The Giant Spider Invasion" is a good movie by comparison?'"

Thomas Duke said...

"I've had an inordinate amount of there's no telling what might happen"

Boy, how I wish my life was as exciting as yours. Anyway, by any measure, Bill Rebane has to be one of the worst filmmakers who's ever lived (or not lived, for that matter). I'd venture to say that Demons is his best film, from a craft standpoint, although Giant Spider Invasion is his best from an "awesomeness" standpoint. It feels like an old timey haunted house attraction (I mean like 19th century old timey).

His worst might be The Capture of Bigfoot, which does have one amazing shot of the Bigfoot throwing a dummy straight up into the air. Other than that, the movie is just some dudes walking around in the snow, with nary a shot exposed properly. Then again, the Yeti costume was kinda sweet. I would look pretty bitchin' in one of those things.

Thomas Duke said...

Whatta ya know, Capture of Bigfoot is on Netflix on demand. What a fucked world we find ourselves in. At 4:58, the Yeti grabs a dude and throws him like a ragdoll, and there is also a awesome pratfall by the Yeti at 33:38 after he gets shot. He also busts out of a cage 124:42. The rest of the movie is a big giant piece of shit. But Rebane did manage 30 seconds of gold in a 90 minute movie, to which I applaud him.