When I saw this movie years ago it was called Demon Possessed and it was on a VHS put out by the 90s direct-to-video extravaganza known as Action International Pictures. I thought it was nonsensical, and my review reflected that at the time. Now Arrow has put it out as The Chill Factor with special features like it’s a real movie and whatnot. I watched it again last night with my husband, thinking that maybe my standards for a horror movie have lowered after subjecting myself to (and enjoying) movies such as The Abomination or Through The Fire for so many years. Here is the standard Demon Possessed reaches: we were able to watch the whole thing so my husband could find out what happened. A really bad movie is either so confusing you turn it off in the first 15 minutes, or is so wtf that you have to watch it all. Demon Possessed isn’t either of those things, but it does boast some notably unsympathetic characters, a few good if underused effects, and people chasing each other around on snowmobiles which the characters insist on calling “sleds.”
The movie begins with a voiceover by the final girl, 30 years in the future. So, nowish. I should look her up. Let me tell you as a tangent but not really, there was a chain of convenience stores here in south Georgia that used to play a recording from the register whenever someone bought a pack of cigarettes or some alcohol that was a lady saying “HEY! Check that ID!” This lady sounded like she’d swiped all the booze and smokes from everyone who ever tried to buy them underage and consumed them all at once. You can hear this person’s voice in your mind, I know. That is the quality of the voice providing the narration in Demon Possessed. Spoilers to the approximately 32 or perhaps 28 year old movie will follow after the photo.
Meanwhile, back to the movie, I have now figured out that the movie was made in 89 and put out in 93, which means the narration was probably added as an afterthought to the filming in an attempt to make it make SOME sense. But we’re not really told why the “check that ID” lady is reminiscing about this story because 1. why would she admit that she once witnessed all her friends get killed and then didn’t alert the police or their families and 2. why would she still have sweet dreams every night about having the sex with her dead and demonically reanimated boyfriend, and then alert me, the viewer, about it. Maybe she watched Hellraiser too many times.
Ugh, I guess I have to give a synopsis. Six buttheads on snowmobiles walk into a bar. They are harassed by racists because one of the group is black. The bar owner apologizes for the racists, gives the sledders free drinks, and then baits two guys in the group who are competing over the same woman to go on a suicide mission, racing across Black Lake. Black Lake is 30 miles from town and no one lives out that way, so if you have an accident there’s no help. Also, you know who else is out on Black Lake? Old Gregg! Also, the woman the two guys are competing over is the main character’s boyfriend’s SISTER. That’s right, and the film never really addresses it other than their respective partners staring gormlessly, but while this douche who eventually gets demon possessed and then cornholes the narrator is still in the bar in front of God, demons, and everyone, he just starts rubbing his sister’s ass.
So they go on their race, and let me tell you this also: two of my least favorite groups of people in the world to hang around with are people who are into taking risks for the sake of taking risks, and people whose entire personality consists of “I’m horny.” So this movie is the Venn circle of those two kinds of people. When the narrator’s boyfriend falls off his “sled” and hits a tree with his face and the bones are sticking out of his hand, everyone else takes him to an abandoned religious summer camp where there is a ouija type of game that spins in a circle with an eyeball in the middle. So of course they play it and we find out the final girl is psychic.
Now they have fucked up: a statue of Jesus is crying blood tears and the dead guy comes out of his coma which makes his sister so horny that she and her boyfriend get down and have sex in front of everyone (but there’s no nudity), which makes the one girl (whose boyfriend already went out to get help but ran into a barbed wire fence with his throat) go looking around the camp and find evidence in the office that something evil was going on at the camp, but she gets chopped into pieces by a ceiling fan in a walk in freezer. Then the sister and her boyfriend are killed by hanging and a falling icicle, and the narrator and the demon have the sex.
When she wakes up in the morning she finds all the dead bodies plus her boyfriend in a black robe and he has grown coke nails and he’s going through all the paperwork in the camp office reminiscing aloud about doing some evil. SO she escapes and there’s another exciting chase scene on “sleds” with the zombie demon sister loving boyfriend, but the final girl gets away and never looks back and also the camp was burned down the whole time anyway. That’s the architectural version of The Sixth Sense: the building was dead the whole time.
I wrote about this movie for an earlier blog and I did the same thing that time, I just laid out what had happened so I could make fun of it. Which is a type of review I don’t like to write. I don’t know why this movie strikes a chord in me that makes me want to do that. Maybe it’s because I hate snow. Maybe because it’s pointed out so often that one character (the one who got chopped up by the fan) is OMG black and dating a white guy. Maybe it’s because I don’t know if the woman in the bar who sent them out to the lake to die knew what was going to happen; surely a town with a haunted camp would have local legends!? Mostly I don’t know what is implied by the reminiscing voiceover; is she possessed too, did she give birth to a demon baby, who the hell is she telling this story to? If they were going to add narration four years later surely they could have wrapped everything up? And as always, the worst part about watching supernatural horror movies is wondering how the lone survivor can just walk away from a massacre and not be charged with murder.
I tried to explain the plot of this movie to my mother when she called me on the phone in the middle of writing this, and she said, “I don’t know how you can sleep after watching something like that.” And I said, “horror isn’t scary anymore when you watch too many,” and she said, “no, I wouldn’t be able to sleep because I’d be trying to figure out what happened in the movie!” And that is my problem too. My brain is always going to try to figure crappy movies like this out. And it’s not just what the characters are doing, it’s also my confusion regarding why someone wrote this script and said, “this is fine.” And then a producer read the script and said, “this is fine, here’s some money.” And still other people read it and said, “Hell yeah, I want to be in this movie.”
There’s a lot of layers of decisions here, and I don’t understand it. But I’m just a blogger doing this to amuse myself. Maybe that’s why anyone, from the bar owner to the demon to the producer, does anything. To amuse themselves, and everyone else. Because what would life be without bad movies to make us feel dumber for watching them, and smarter for not being the characters in them.