Wednesday, 3 February 2016
The Demons of Ludlow (1983)
From 1974 through 1988, Bill Rebane directed a movie roughly every 18 months. Which is pretty impressive. Doubly-so when you consider he did it from his own film studio on a ranch in Wisconsin, without any kind of major studio backing. It would be triply-so if any of the movies were actually any good, but frankly they peaked at "so bad it's good" with the 1975 release, The Giant Spider Invasion.
Like a lot of the other Rebane films I have seen, The Demons of Ludlow feels very familiar in its basic plot concept, though it's not as obviously "inspired" by a specific work as say The Alpha Incident obviously is by The Andromeda Strain.
Ludlow is a small town - basically just five families - and like a lot of small towns it is slowly withering on the vine. There's no new development and few jobs, and most of the younger generation have left for greener pastures. The mayor's not willing to give up without a fight though, so he's arranged a big (by the standards of a town of 40 people) celebration for the town's bicentennial. He's even managed to track down and retrieve an antique piano that belonged to the town's founding father.
Which is going to turn out to be a mistake, because the founding father had rather a falling out with the other townsfolk, back in the day. The piano is inhabited by his vengeful spirit, and it's perfectly content to get revenge on the descendants of the folk who wronged it, now that it has the chance.
There is some fun to be had here mocking the terrible lighting, "unconventional" camera work, and dreadful scripting (not to mention the premise of a killer piano), but ultimately this film boils down to a bunch of scenes where characters we're given little reason to like are killed off by clumsily executed hauntings. It's likely you'll be tired of mocking well before the film has had the decency to reach its muddled and arbitrary conclusion.