Demon Divas and the Lanes of Damnation is a low budget horror film that tries to hearken back to exploitive eighties flicks like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (with which it shares the presence of scream queen Brinke Stevens), but it can't quite live up to the campy exuberance and fun of the films it is attempting to emulate. The ultra low budget and superfast production time doom it to mere mediocrity, and sometimes less.
Lisa and Taffy (Nikki McCrea and Sofiya Smirnova) are a couple of college girls getting by working as waitresses in a local bowling alley. Unfortunately, they have somehow earned the undying enmity of bitchy sorority girl Rochelle (Stephanie Bertoni), who hatches a plan to rent out the bowling alley for a party, and humiliate the girls in front of Johnny (Aaron Bernard), the average looking guy that both Rochelle and Lisa are inexplicably attracted to. Complicating matters, the women who own the bowling alley are actually ancient and powerful demons who set up conflicts just like this to sow enmity and discord, furthering their work of ensnaring souls, with some human flesh on the side as an appetizer.
The five demons are played by such B-movie stalwarts as the aforementioned Brinke Stevens, Debbie Rochon and lesser knowns like Lilith Stabs and Robyn Griggs, along with Amy Lynn Best, who is also a producer. The story isn't terribly complicated: the sorority girls are bitchy, shallow and stupid, and their fraternity friends are as equally simpleminded, with the exception of Johnny. Rochelle and her friends abuse Lisa and Taffy, pouring water and ketchup on them ala Carrie, and as a result the put upon friends make a deal with the demons to get revenge. Hijinks, murder and cannibalism ensue.
The film only clocks in at an hour and five minutes, and that's with credits. There's not a lot going on here, and assuredly the general shoddy appearance and slapdash feel of the affair can be credited to the very fast turnaround time, apparently only four months from conception to the end of production, according to Best on one of the commentaries. Low budget films can sometimes be forgiven for their bare bones plots and mediocre performances if they deliver on the fun, the gore or the scantily clad women, the areas that the mostly young male fan base is really interested in. But Demon Divas doesn't deliver in any of these areas. The effects are mostly cheesy, and the performances only so-so, though Nikki McCrea and Stephanie Bertoni do passable work. And the most bared flesh we see are a couple of the girls in their underwear for a couple of minutes. And it's really not that much fun. The jokes are broad, juvenile and ill timed, but definitely not funny. Characters and situations seem jammed in and awkward. The over the top gusto that saves many a low budget film is mostly absent. Certainly there's much less to like than the average seventeen year old is looking for.
While certainly constrained by time and money, the producers of Demon Divas and the Lanes of Damnation just can't seem to weave this hodgepodge film together into a coherent hole. It's too schizophrenic, and not scary, funny or sexy enough. At best, you'll want to rent it.
The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and has some issues. There's a lot of aliasing, and some corona visible around objects from time to time.
The audio, Dolby digital 2 channel, has a lot of problems, a fact that the filmmakers acknowledge in the commentary. The sound is muddy, and has a lot of background noise, and the quality shifts dramatically in the same scene when different characters speak. Despite this, the dialogue is generally discernible with little effort. No subtitles or additional language tracks are included.
There are a few extras included. They are:
Short Film: The Night We Didn't Discuss Myra Breckenridge
This is a short film (six and a half minutes long) showing the back story to a demon hunting book club that makes an appearance in Demon Divas. The short film is of about the same quality as the feature.
Behind the Scenes
This is around twelve minutes of behind the scenes video, plus some deleted scenes. Set pranks and hijinks are highlighted.
Trailers are included for Happy Cloud releases Demon Divas, The Resurrection Game and Splatter Movie, as well as a general trailer for Happy Cloud Pictures.
Two commentary tracks are included: one featuring writer / director Mike Watt and actor / producer Amy Lynn Best, and the other featuring actors Nikki McCrea and Aaron Bernard. By far, the more interesting is the Watt / Best track. These two have been working together for many years, and have a lot of knowledge of low budget filmmaking, and are quite engaging. McCrea and Bernard seem nice, but prove decidedly dull.
Demon Divas tries call back the mid eighties feel of the bimbo fueled, goofy horror film, and can't quite make it. The producers seem to lack the verve and raw talent that a lot of the exploitation filmmakers of yesteryear had in great abundance. David DeCoteau and Fred Olen Ray made (and make) schlock, but they also were able to rise above the ridiculous subject matter they dealt with and create films that were genuinely entertaining. Demon Divas seems to have a lot of terribly sincere folks working on it, but is not terribly entertaining. Rent it.