Ludlow is a tiny New England town that is celebrating its 200th birthday. Now, when I say tiny, I mean that there appears to be about 17 people living in the town. Anyway, a mysterious piano is sent to the town as a birthday present and, uh-oh — guess what’s possessed with the angry spirit of a warlock who happened to be murdered by the citizens of Ludlow 200 years ago? Anyway, this warlock has a whole lot of other angry ghosts with him and soon, they’re exacting revenge on the citizens of Ludlow.
Okay, I think I can hear Arleigh going, “Uhmmm…Lisa Marie, remember a little film called The Fog!?” and yes, I guess the plot is a bit similar to John Carpenter’s film. It’s also reminiscent of another 1983 horror film called The Devonsville Terror. While The Devonsville Terror was directed by the infamous Ulli Lommel, Bill Rebane is listed as being one of the “associate producers.” I’m sure there’s probably a story there.
But anyway, back to The Demons of Ludlow. This is very much a horror film of the 80s, which means that it has a real nasty streak. As opposed to The Alpha Incident, where Rebane actually did appear to have a higher purpose in mind, the Demons of Ludlow is pretty much all about killing people. Yet, this lack of higher purpose actually makes Demons of Ludlow a far more entertaining film to watch. It helps that none of the 17 citizens of Ludlow are actually likable enough for you to get too upset once they die.
The demons of Ludlow themselves are far more interesting, if just because they challenge logic by their very existence. As the reviewer known as Scarina pointed out in her own excellent review, the film’s own internal logic states that the ghosts that are helping out the warlock in the piano are the exact same ghosts who ran him out of Ludlow in the first place. So, therefore, why are they helping him? Now, if pressed, I can accept that perhaps he used his warlock powers to take control of their ghosts. I mean, he’s had to kill 200 years doing something, right?
But what’s odd is that we’re told that Ludlow is 200 years old. Seeing as the film came out in 1983, let’s give the movie the benefit of the doubt and say that Ludlow was founded in 1782. Okay, that would mean that Ludlow was established during the final year of the American Revolution. Therefore, why are half the ghosts of Ludlow dressed like pilgrims from a community theater Thanksgiving pageant? I say half because the other half are dressed like decadent nobles from pre-Revolutionary France. Seriously, they’ve got the powdered wigs and the fake moles and everything! And then, to top it off, five pirate ghosts show up at the end of the movie. I mean, my God, I would have loved to have been back in Ludlow in 1782. Apparently, it was like the New Orleans of colonial New England.
Still, I have to admit I enjoyed the Demons of Ludlow. It doesn’t drag as much as The Alpha Incident and this is a film that definitely has more than enough “What the Fuck” appeal to be watchable. There’s even one sequence — in which one unfortunate citizen ends up getting shot by a musket-holding Pilgrim who suddenly shows up in a mirror — that is actually rather effective. This is one of those films that people like me tend to defend by citing its “dream-like” qualities. That may be going a bit too far in this film’s case but it’s still a definite success d’estime.