I love the low-budget horror curios that I stumble across. Drive-In Massacre, Spawn of the Slithis and The Incredible Melting Man are three such examples of this sub-genre. I watched The Demon (aka Midnight Caller) from 1979 last night and can add it to this category.

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I actually thought the film was based in California but it’s actually Johannesburg!  There’s a broad range of accents within the cast too with Americans, Brits and South Africans here.

A man seemingly without a face is stalking women (he’s actually wearing a thin white rubber mask which makes him appear completely expressionless. Yes, there are more Halloween reference points to come within the film).

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I actually chose to watch this film as I saw that Cameron Mitchell from the great Toolbox Murders starred in this. And his character of Colonel Carson who is employed by the parents of a missing girl to use his psychic powers to find their daughter is terrific. He produces sketches of the killer for them which completely exclude his face which is very eerie and unsettling.

Another thing that I love about these horror curios is that anything can happen meaning that we get some crazy shit to watch and lap up joyously. The demise of Mitchell’s character is a complete curveball and I was left thinking, ‘Damn! I didn’t see that coming!’

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And then there’s the ending that involves a shower nozzle, a bottle of shampoo and a pair of scissors. This is a booby trap foreshadowing A Nightmare on Elm Street by 5 years but probably influenced (again) by Laurie Strode and her resourcefulness. There’s also another ANOES foreshadowing as the killer wears gloves with metal tips at the end of each finger.

If you decide to watch this film, please don’t think that this is some kind of forgotten horror masterpiece. It certainly isn’t. But if you want to watch a left-field curve ball of a film that is full of quirks then there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half. You know the film is low budget right from the start as the titles are VERY cheap looking. The filmmakers run out of music during the closing title sequence and so the last half of the credit crawl is completely silent. I love that.

3 stars out of 5

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