Written by: Frederick Bailey and CJ Santiago
Directed by: Cirio H. Santiago
Starring: Kathryn Witt, William Steis, and Laura Banks
Reviewed by: Brett G.
It waits underwaterÖto skin you alive!
If a Roger Corman-produced Creature from the Black Lagoon rip-off from the 80s doesnít sound remotely intriguing to you, I implore you to turn away now and check out another one of our fine reviews. Okay, for the nine of you still here, a fair warning is still in order: no matter how cool this premise sounds, you will be disappointed by Demon of Paradise, the second bill on Shout Factoryís latest Cormanís Classics Double Feature release.
The titular paradise refers to the Hawaiian islands, which apparently house an illegal dynamite black market. A couple of idiots end up blowing themselves up on the water, and everyone assumes itís an accidentÖor is it? Local legend persists that some sort of monstrous creature inhabits the waters, and the movie reveals this to be true when it continues to kill those who trespass into its domain. A local resort owner does the only logical thing and decides to use the creature as an attraction, despite the protests of a scientist and the local police.
Some movies are so stupid that you can have a lot of fun with it just by laughing at its ineptness. The brains behind MST3K made a career out of it (and often at the expense of Corman himself). Demon of Paradise canít even boast that, as it just uneventfully plods its way along to a typically explosive conclusion. One can hardly be surprised to find a bunch of B-movie schlock packed into this, but itís not remotely fun or even all that outrageous. Itís a 50s monster movie with an 80s aesthetic, and the results are tedious. The movie throws in some mob innuendo (thereís even a random shootout and kidnapping!) and the usual conflict that arises when some moron wants to stay open for business even when the tourists are being devoured, but youíll find it hard to care.
Needless to say, this isnít much of a paradise, and the demon itself isnít that impressive either. The creature is less Gillman, and more of a weird hybrid between a dinosaur and a werewolf. It doesnít do much besides pop his head up out of the water, as if to wink and nod at the audience and confirm that he is in fact responsible for the demise of the characters that just kicked the bucket. His attacks are pretty standard, and we really only see the aftermath a couple of times. All of the effects involved are shoddy, as the entire production was probably made with some money that Corman found under his couch cushions. If thatís not the case, itís certainly more fun to think so.
Itíd be easy to say that this is just another piss poor creature feature that bears Cormanís name, but this one is just alarmingly poor. Itís like Shout Factory has scraped up the barnacles off the bottom of the hull of the Corman canon, but theyíve at least done right by it. The filmís presentation on DVD is better than it has any right to be, as the transfer is anamorphic and boasts vibrant colors and some minimal print damage. The sound is also clear, not that thereís anything especially interesting to hear. Thereís also a theatrical trailer, which is only noteworthy because itís hard to imagine this playing in theaters. Up From the Depths is the other movie featured on this twin bill of aquatic terror, but I canít recommend you make it a double feature. Skip this one. Trash it!
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