Thursday, March 10, 2011

'The Demons of Ludlow' is one of Rebane's best

The Demons of Ludlow (1975)
Starring: Paul von Hausen, Stephanie Cushna, Carol Perry, James R. Robinson, C. Dave Davis, and Angailica
Director: Bill Rebane
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A curse that's haunted a small New England town since its founding two hundred years ago is brought fully to horrible life when a piece of its secret history--a piano that sounds like a harpsichord (or is that a harpsichord that looks like an upright piano?)--resurfaces. Will the town preacher (Von Hausen) and a pair of young journalists (Cushna and Robinson) stop the curse, or will they fall victim to it?

I watched several of Bill Rebane's movies, and I don't know whether my ability to tell crap from quality started to erode when I got to this one, but I think that "The Demons of Ludlow" is actually pretty good for a low-budget horror film. Compared to some of Rebane's other efforts, it's downright brilliant.

Unfortunately, like another of Rebane's almost-good movies--"The Game" (aka "The Cold")--he and his writers simply can't seem to pull off the ending. Remember my question im the summary above as to whether the preacher and the journalist escape the curse? That remains a question at the end of the movie, and it's not a question that hangs there in a good way. The ending is so abrupt that seems as though Rebane ran out of film and had no money to buy more. The film simply feels like the ending was left off.

If a little more care had been taken to construct a story with a decent end, this could have been a solid 5 rating. The soundtrack is decent, the acting is better than most of what you see in films of this kind, and there are even some pretty scary scenes--the sequences where the preacher's alcoholic wife is being tormented by the ghosts' of Ludlow's past are particularly well done. But, again, Rebane screws up the ending.