‘The screams you hear may be your own!’
The Demon is a 1979 South African slasher film co-produced, written and directed by Percival Rubens (Survival Zone; Sweet Murder). The movie stars Cameron Mitchell, Jennifer Holmes (Raw Force), Craig Gardner and Zoli Marki. It has also been released as Midnight Caller
Fourteen-year-old Emily Parker (Ashleigh Sendin) is kidnapped from her rural home and murdered by a faceless, heavy-breathing maniac. Later, the maniac hitchhikes to the city with a gregarious truck driver (John Parsonson). The maniac kills the truck driver, steals his cash, and takes up residence at a hotel in Johannesburg’s Doornfontein neighbourhood.
Two months later, Emily’s parents — frustrated by the failure of law enforcement officials to either locate Emily — enlist in the help of Bill Carson (Cameron Mitchell), a retired Colonel in the U.S. Marines who now works as a freelance psychic detective. Joan Parker (Moira Winslow), the distraught mother, needs to know whether Emily is alive or dead — but the angry Mr Parker (Peter J. Elliot) is preoccupied with bloody revenge, and aggressively implores Col. Carson to find the man responsible.
Carson gravely intones that the entity they seek is “an aberration of the species. Something hallucinating evil” — and warns the Parkers that it would be best if they didn’t find him!
Meanwhile — for reasons left unclear — the maniac decides to fixate on a young, American pre-school teacher named Mary Jones (Jennifer Holmes), who shares a bungalow in Johannesburg’s Saxonwold neighbourhood with her eighteen-year-old cousin, Jo (Zoli Marki). Mary first sees the elusive maniac lurking outside her classroom — disappearing and re-appearing in the fog — and later, spying on her at the mall.
When not stalking Mary, the maniac holes up in his hotel room — doing push-ups, growling, and tearing up girly magazines. He also prowls Johannesburg’s Hillbrow district at night, attacking various women…
‘We can’t escape the scriptwriting shipwreck of the character development parts, which are snooze-inducing, and they seem to have let Cameron Mitchell loose on the quaaludes before he turned up on set. Does this make The Demon a total waste of space? Well funnily enough, no. We may be somewhere off Halloween with what we have here, but there’s enough in the extremely cute actress, remorseless assailant and idea that a place in the world exists called Boobs Disco to have kept me engaged.’ A Slash Above…
‘ …the film was clearly influenced by Halloween with its ambiguous killer whose face is hidden and who wears a brown leather jacket and gloves with razors on them. There’s at least one unexpected development in the movie, but most of it is over-familiar. That’s too bad, because The Demon isn’t badly directed and has some good scenes, although the ending is a mite dragged out.’ Great Old Movies
‘There is no explanation about the demon, who he is, what he does, and why he does it. He just terrorizes a town and kills people that cross his path. The Parkers are a poorly structured family and things are just cut off to the point that there is no explanation whatsoever, especially the way it ends.’ Caponomics
Main cast and characters:
Jennifer Holmes … Mary
Cameron Mitchell … Col. Bill Carson
Craig Gardner … Dean Turner
Zoli Marki … Jo (as Zoli Markey)
Peter J. Elliott … Mr Parker
Moira Winslow … Joan Parker
Mark Tanous … Bobby
George Korelin … Dr Stuart
Vera Blacker … Mrs Janet Stuart
John Parsonson … The Truck Driver
Ashleigh Sendin … Emily Parker
Graham Kennard … The Demon
April Galetti … Girl in alley
Jannie Wienand … Punk in Knife Fight
The Demon was released direct-to-video in the USA on March 1st 1981 by Thorn EMI. On April 28, 1983, the film made its US television debut through Gold Key Entertainment. It was released in the USA by S.J. International Pictures in 1985 under the title Midnight Caller. The film has since become public domain and has been released on DVD several times.