Medium-strength French horror from the eighties thatís rather trashy
and overwrought, but not entirely unaffecting.
THE DEMON IS ON THE ISLAND (LE DEMON DANS LíILE; 1983)
was a rare horror entry in French cinema, which during the 1980s saw
very little genre fare. For that reason alone the film is worthy of
notice, although I think itís been overrated by many (it won prestigious
awards at two prominent fantastic film festivals).
THE DEMONÖ starred the beautiful Anny Duperey, whose
other film credits include 2 OR 3 THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER (1967), THE
BLOOD ROSE (1970) and BOBBY DEERFIELD (1977). The director was the late
Francis Leroi, better known for sexploitation fare like PRIVATE NURSE
(1980) and parts 4 and 6 of the EMMANUELLE franchise.
Dr. Gabrielle Martin heads to a semi-secluded island in
order to escape a recent trauma. There she confronts the eccentric Dr.
Marshall, who she was supposed to replace. Even stranger is the fact
that various domestic appliances begin going crazy all over the island:
a coffee makerís top blows and scalds the face of a young woman, and
shortly thereafter a man has his fingertips sheared off by an electric
Before long non-electrical objects become dangerous, as
when a little girl has an eye poked out by a drumming teddy bear.
Inanimate objects prove equally deadly when a man is cut by a bursting
wine glass, a womanís hand is cooked when an oven door slams shut on it,
and a young couple are incinerated by an exploding gas can.
With all this mayhem Gabrielle obviously has a lot of
medical work on her hands. She decides to investigate the killings, and
discovers that all the deadly items were purchased from the same
supermarket. Gabrielle stakes out the market, and while searching the
backroom spies an odd little person with a giant head stocking the area
and then disappearing through an unseen door.
Needless to say, something deeply odd is going on, and
Gabrielle herself isnít immune to whatever evil force is loose on the
island. In fact the ďDemonĒ appears to have Gabrielle directly in its
sights, as she discovers one night when seemingly every object in her
house turns against her.
French film haters will find much in this film to
validate their opinions, as for the most part itís every bit as trashy
and exploitive as the American splatter films of the eighties, complete
with much gratuitous nudity and a distracting electronic score. Overall
the film is about on par with the EMMANUELLE flicks for which director
Francis Leroi is best known.
Yet Anny Duperey is quite arresting in the lead role,
and there are many striking directorial touches. The frequent lingering
close-ups on various objects are utilized with notable skill, creating a
distinct sense of apprehension (itís what Stephen King was evidently
trying for in the similarly-themed MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE). A great deal of
suspense is generated by the mere presence of various appliances within
a scene, as in a particularly clever sequence in which Leroi intercuts a
family performing ordinary domestic chores--fixing a TV set, slicing a
carrot, turning on an oven--that we know full well will be the death of
at least one of the participants, but not precisely how.
THE DEMON IS ON THE ISLAND (LE DEMON DANS LíILE)
Director: Francis Leroi
Producer: Patrick Delauneux, Claude Zidi
Screenplay: Francis Leroi, Owen T. Rozmann
Cinematography: Jacques Assuerus
Editing: Caroline Gombergh
Cast: Anny Duperey, Jean-Claude Brialy, Pierre Santini, Gabriel Cattand,
Cerise, Catherine Alcover, Juliette Brac, Bruno Bruneau, Michel Caron,
Evelyne Dandry, Jean-Louis Foulquier, Agnes Gattegno