The Demon's Rook (DVD)
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"A glimmering gem in a sea of low-budget splatter, The Demon's Rook is flat-out unlike anything previously put to film — a mindbending tour de force of DIY filmmaking that delivers in spades what films ten times its budget cannot. The fever dreams of Lucio Fulci collide with ’80s creature features in this surreal horror/fantasy, wherein a young boy named Roscoe is lured into a parallel dimension by the good demon Dimwos. Raised to manhood in this dark realm, a Christ-like Roscoe (played by writer/director James Sizemore) pops out of the Earth decades later, bringing with him the secrets of the netherworld. Unfortunately, a trio of malevolent demons is none too pleased with this and, after turning a group of dimwitted construction workers into marauding ghouls and slaughtering a gaggle of campers, is after Roscoe with a maniacal vengeance. Now, Earth’s only chance at survival is a hipster raised in Hell and his damaged childhood chum Eva, whose path to glory is lit in every colour of Argento’s rainbow.
The homage-loving Sizemore has created a low-budget orgy of grue that can only be described as Return of the Living Dead by way of Jodorowsky, having lensed the entire head-scratching fantasy in his native Georgia and employing a nearly all-amateur cast and crew. The results, however, are astounding — with all manner of throat-ripping, head-smashing, and limb-severing from the self-taught Sizemore (who also handled a large majority of the film’s ample effects) and his band of skillful Southerners. And thanks to a helping hand from Ultra 8 executive producers (and TIFF superheroes) Colin Geddes and Katarina Gligorijevic, the finished product is polished and tight, while still feeling as indie as a feature can get.
Featuring supernatural mind melds, fog-drenched weirdness, and naked women with blood oozing from their gaping eyes, The Demon's Rook is the sort of surreal cinematic oddity that will set your head spinning while simultaneously blowing your mind with its unabashed devotion to bucking the studio system and keeping things gleefully odd. By the time Roscoe and Eva face down the demons with their super-psychic, head-poppin’ powers, our nightmares have successfully made the leap from fantasy into the strange lo-fi world Sizemore has created for us. And regardless of his limited budget, this self-taught, first-time feature director has delivered a wonderfully weird film that will not be soon forgotten."
- Ted Geoghegan