My Demon Lover / 1987
Dir.: Charlie Loventhal
Starring: Scott Valentine, Michele Little, Arnold Johnson
Movies that cram in as many genres as possible are the best. What could be more special than a movie that wants to cover so much ground? And what could be more fascinating than watching that fail? Enter My Demon Lover, a romantic comedy with an OUTRAGEOUS twist: its main character Kaz (the attractive male lead played by attractive male human Scott Valentine) is secretly a hideous monster. Even TWISTIER? His grotesque features only show themselves when he is sexually aroused. But he still believes in LOVE, goddammit, and he’s seeking it out the only way he knows how: groping women on the street.
My Demon Lover is a massive failure, but not because of the wild concept – this is obviously a great idea for a movie. It’s the execution. There’s a fun way to do the classic “man-turns-into-ugly-beast-when-horny” trope and there’s My Demon Lover’s way, which makes Kaz out to be a sexual deviant and serial killer for half its runtime. The movie could be amusing and cute; instead the inconceivably vulnerable Denny (the attractive female lead played by attractive female human Michele Little) always appears so desperate that it comes off unsettling and cruel.
The film opens with Denny’s boyfriend Chip dumping her via burglary, leaving her with nothing but garbage and a tin of tuna (but no can opener – HA!). “I could’ve made it work…I can make anything work,” she says to her man-eater Sassy Hispanic Friend, who probably has a name, but whatever. From the opening montage, you can tell this movie is meant to be A Real New York-style Rom-Com! – cute, with a little bit of artistic edge, but super cute – but Denny’s weakness and submissiveness is more suited to a Lifetime Original Movie about a chronically abused girlfriend holding on to unrealistic ideals of love who just doesn’t understand that before a person can be happy in relationships, she must be happy…with herself.
So, when Denny chases down Chip’s van shouting, “I think this relationship isn’t working!” it’s not cute, it’s depressing. When she blames herself and makes excuses for Chip, who, she explains, left her because he didn’t want to come to her birthday party, you’re not on her side, and you’ve already thrown your VCR out the window. HEY but look at her kooky outfits!!!
Cut to Kaz, busking in a subway car, apparently homeless, coated in a fine layer of sexy movie-grime and dressed like a reject from a Hall & Oates-themed Sears catalog photo shoot. He plays the saxophone, perhaps a metaphor for the yearning that drives him, or maybe just a funny instrument for a guy in a surprisingly well-lit New York City subway car to be playing at the beginning of a movie about a gnarly sex monster.