Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Little did they know that it was not just two steps ahead of them, but one step behind!" blares the legend on the VHS cover of this ambitious independent horror film. Unfortunately you won't be behind the sofa when you watch it, you'll be sitting on the edge of your seat - with your finger poised on the fast forward button.

Made at the end of the Eighties, this is very much a product of its time, a wannabe video-nasty with a monster that looks like something out of Star Trek and plot holes you could drive a bus through. Probably the scariest thing about it is the acting. "I don't know what to say," mumbles its cop hero in one of many interminable filler scenes, which pretty much sums up the dialogue. But for connoisseurs of bad horror films, there's still plenty to entertain.

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In the pre-credit sequence, we see a voodoo ritual in a Nigerian desert village go dramatically awry. Exactly what happens is unclear, but suddenly everyone is running about and screaming. This event then repeats itself in downtown Miami, and this time, in one of the few genuinely exciting bits, a guy's head gets cut off. We are then introduced to our heroes, a mustachioed Eighties macho cop (with one of those maverick attitudes we used to see so much of) and his partner, a plucky blonde who pouts a lot and wears awful salmon pink ankle socks.

Cop number one (played by the producer, with predictable results) has recently split up with his wife, so we get a snippet of domestic violence when he visits her and her goth chick girlfriend, which is apparently supposed to make us sympathise with him. This means he has to move in with cop number two, at which point he gets to make fussy paternal remarks about her dimwit boyfriend. When they visit crime scenes, they spend most of their time engaged in idle gossip. They uncover evidence only when it throws itself at them. Then, without any real attempt at explanation, the monster starts hunting them.

This film makes more sense if you imagine the monster as a young teenager. Instead of killing people right away, it takes an inexplicable interest in trying to seduce them, eating Chinese food, and throwing furniture around. Because it has some kind of fire-related power, we get to see a lot of sparks fly around - this was presumably meant to be exciting, but it's more like the sort of effect created when one inadvertently plugs in a dodgy bit of electronics. The final showdown involves a hopelessly inadequate chainsaw, an axe, and a lot of random falling over. In someone's garden. Presumably the director's mum's.

Curiously, there's some genuinely inventive camerawork in this otherwise execrable film, and somebody has also made quite an effort with the set dressing. If only they'd chosen to make a film about interior decorating rather than demons, this might have counted for something - and the result would probably have been more exciting.

Reviewed on: 30 Mar 2009
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An ancient African demon visits Miami to chop off people's heads, and a mustachioed cop tries to stop it.
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Director: Francis Schaeffer

Writer: Len Spinell

Starring: Wayne Crawford, Kay Lenz, Steve Kanaly, June Chadwick, John Fatooh, Helena Kriel

Year: 1988

Runtime: 88 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US, South Africa


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