The Demoniacs (1974)

Taking a breather from porn, Rollin returned to the pulp adventure roots of Viol du vampire with this somewhat extraordinary tale. It’s a period drama (albeit of slightly vague period) concerning “wreckers”, pirates who lure ships onto the rocks of the Normandy coast to loot them. That’s how this begins, with the wrecking gang attacking two young girls who’ve survived a wreck and leaving them for dead; however, this carelessness will be their undoing eventually, given that the town also plays host to some sort of demonic entity… Needless to say, Demoniacs is a somewhat peculiar mix of stuff, like a mutated Hammer film, with more typically Rollinesque elements combining/clashing with the less usual (particularly the somewhat broad acting by John Rico as the wrecker captain and astounding sex goddess Joelle Coeur as the female wrecker); by all accounts the production was a nightmare from start to finish, encompassing recalcitrant cast and crew, disputes with the producer, money running out, weather, and more besides, and it has to be said the film does rather reflect its troubled genesis. And then there’s the sex, which is plentiful in the film (and the new DVD includes nearly ten minutes more of the stuff in the extra features, I presume these scenes were for export markets) but also gives a somewhat bitter cast to proceedings. Let’s face it, it begins and ends with protracted rapes, which are unpleasant enough but factor in Joelle Coeur’s character in the climax (sorry) having a vigorous wank while watching the captain and Le Bosco rape the two girls, and that gives the film an edge of nastiness we haven’t really seen in Rollin’s films before. Still, for all that the film clearly escaped Rollin’s ambition and resources, something kept me watching it, and Rollin’s gift for finding intriguing locations (the ruined abbey in this case) serves him well again… alas, though, that the Castel twins weren’t cast as the two girls, or I’d have been watching somewhat more closely…

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