Monday, August 1, 2016

Episode 16: Demented (1980)


“You hurt me... You’re never gonna hurt me again...”

While tending horses in an isolated stable, Linda Rodgers (Sallee Elyse) is viciously assaulted and savagely raped by a gang of cackling thugs, their identities concealed beneath bizarre jester masks. Though she is beaten and left for dead, Linda survives the attack, but the trauma gets her carted off to a psychiatric hospital. During her stay, the men who’ve accosted her are apprehended and sentenced to serve an undisclosed prison term. With the belief that she’s recovered, she is released to the care of her big-time doctor husband, Matt (Harry Reems, of Deep Throat fame, credited here as Bruce Gilchrist).

On the day of her return, Linda begins experiencing emotional meltdowns and suffers a multitude of terrifying delusions. It seems that everywhere she turns, the jester mask is leering over her shoulder and the men who’ve previously attacked her are somewhere lying in wait.

Though he’s promised to look after her, Matt’s priorities are elsewhere. He’d much rather spend time with Carol (Kathryn Clayton), an opportunistic mistress in constant search of a handout. Consistently left to her own devices, Linda’s downward ascension soon develops into a complete mental breakdown. It seems that everywhere she turns, there’s someone out to cause her both physical and emotional harm. Are Linda’s fears truly imagined, or is some menacing presence lurking somewhere in the shadows?


Produced on the heels of the rape/revenge sub-genre made popular in the 1970s, Demented differs from its formers in that the assailants are caught before the end of the first reel, so unlike I Spit on Your Grave or The Last House on the Left, the film doesn’t necessarily follow the same formula. Does this minor difference make Demented a superior film? Not a chance.

Demented is not what any sane individual would deem a “good” film. The script contains more holes than a brick of Swiss cheese, the amateurish dialogue is oftentimes cringe-worthy, and Sallee Elyse’s portrayal of Linda certainly garnered no acclaim. She spends most of the film’s running time chewing the scenery with an over-exaggerated portrayal of a woman in peril and, during the more “intense” scenes, expresses anguish by unleashing a shriek so impossibly shrill, it’ll be a small miracle if both your windowpanes and eardrums remain in-tact by the time credits roll.

I chose Demented for this episode of B-Movie Bonanza because it has been one of my go-to “so ridiculously bad, it’s good” movies for a number of years. Looking at it now, however, I realized (and convey this during the commentary) the film just doesn’t hold up, even as a novelty. Though there remains some minor camp value, Demented is downright boring at times. There are lengthy sequences where absolutely nothing happens. Not even a trace of dialogue can be heard during some of these scenes (which is probably a good thing, on second thought). Because of this, I run out of things to discuss about three quarters of the way through, making this by no means a stand-out episodes of B-Movie Bonanza. Nevertheless, I hope you’ll accompany me on this strange little journey and try as best you can to enjoy the show.

I used the Netflix streaming edition of the film, which runs 1:31:53, for the purposes of this commentary. If you’d like to watch with me, this would obviously be the best source. However, there are a handful of rips available on YouTube, which may also be adequate. I’m not sure if these versions are edited, but it’s worth a look. One source I would avoid is the Desert Island Films DVD available for just under $10.00 via Amazon. According to one review, this edition is a bootleg disc taken directly from the original Media VHS released way back in the early ‘80s. According to the product information included on the page, this version runs 87 minutes, which would make it trimmed by at least 5, so consider yourself forewarned.



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