Undoubtedly an instant Alabama drive-in classic, this one has a detective and his partner defanging demons and pursuing powerful occult artifacts
I let this flick Demon Squad roll, and I learned something.
What I learned is this: New Orleans (or Norleans, as Joe Bob would call it) has the high-publicity glamorous creatures of the night. The voodoo mystique. Live and Let Die. Interview With The Vampire-type hoity-toity fashionable creeps who rip out your throat and drink your blood but prioritize looking positively glamorous while doing it. (Don’t get any blood on that Armani, Vlad LeBlanc when you’re biting people on Bourbon Street, OK?)
But you might not know this, and I sure as heck didn’t because I haven’t ever been there, but Mobile, Ala., has all these demons with horns wandering around getting limbs cut off and being turned into ground demon meat and hanging out at bars and beating the crap out of private detectives.
I had no idea.
There also are these creeps named Stitchers who morph into green smoke and have green eyes and their mouths trussed up like how Mom sews up that holiday turkey after shoving about 18 pounds of Stove Top in it. These creatures do the bidding of a REALLY evil fedora-wearing guy named The Stranger who has no eyeballs, dresses up like Dr. Strangelove and is looking for a demonic doomsday device that will create this monstrosity to rule or destroy or just simply give the whole world a light ravaging.
Had no idea about that, either.
Mobile also has a hard-boiled private investigator who gets called in by the metro PD named Nick Moon (Khristian Fulmer) who’s been around the interdimensional portal once or twice and has to order whiskey sours at 10 a.m. because of all the craziness he’s seen in his career. He’s got a vampire skull on his desk. When he kills a demon, he says “Vaya con dios, a—–e.” He’s mad because he has a young daughter he had to send away to live with one of his four ex-wives because he didn’t want one of the REAL monsters he fights showing up under the girl’s bed. He’s seen things that normally remain unseen, mostly with the help of his steampunk paranormal detection goggles.
But Demon Squad co-writer/director Thomas Smith knows all about this because he’s made at least NINE flicks showing us that there is something weird going out there in Mobile with this adventure being the fourth one out on DVD (if the Amazon marketplace is to be believed).
Moon and his psychic assistant, Daisy O’Reilly (Erin Lilley — Smith’s co-writer), are contacted by Lilah Fontaine (Leah Johnson), whose dad is missing. They’re hired to look around the city for a dagger that has mystic powers and its own supernatural power source that “every underground religion and cult with a large bank account wants to get their hands on.” Some of the creeps have horns, a third eyeball, fangs and they all wouldn’t be out of place in the original Star Wars cantina scene. All of them would be bad news if they got their hands, claws or tentacles on it.
But it’s The Stranger, an old enemy of Moon, who has control of most of Mobile’s nastiest and bloodthirstiest creatures.
Speaking of the red stuff …
- Best Way to Show a Demon Who’s Boss: Cuff him to a chair in a warehouse after interrogating him and then defang the sucker with some pliers. Didn’t see Clooney do THAT in From Dusk Til Dawn, did you?
- Best Service, Even After Death: Moses (Alton Landry) gets slaughtered in a bar fight, but before his death, he promised that Nick would have a suit for a date that night. By Hades, Nick got that suit and Moses kept his promise. He should be resurrected for a sequel because he’s that good a friend.
- Best Groundbreaking Dinner Scene: Eschewing the steakhouse, but not broken up too, too much about the death of the butler, Nick and Lilah grab some Chinese takeout. And yeah, Nick is still wearing the tux he was promised by his late friend, Moses.
- Best Splat: What happens to the Stranger (Eric Schmitz) when the New and Improved Demon gets unleashed.
Smith, Lilley and his cohorts have something fun and creative going on in ‘bama. This flick has heart (some of it in a bucket on a mad scientist’s floor), world-building (they like Rick James in one of the local monster bars) and oh yeah, some slime flying and a dead butler getting tossed off a balcony, all on a limited budget.
Give Demon Squad three stars — half-star deduction because of the absence of garbonzas, plus a bit of inconsistency in the lighting and sound in a couple interior scenes. If they can cut down on the dialogue a bit while getting the camera moving a bit more, they’ll be on their way to four-star drive-in glopola classics and a position in the Pantheon of Alabama Filmmakers …
Demon Squad, also known as Night Hunters, is available to stream on TubiTV and on Amazon Prime, but if you REALLY want to encourage and support Smith and this crew of indy filmmakers so they get a shot at making another adventure in the life of Nick Moon and Daisy, buy it on DVD.
Check it out.