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Demon of Paradise


Title: Demon of Paradise
Year Of Release: 1987
Running Time: 87minutes
DVD Released By: Shout Factory
Directed By: Cirio H. Santiago

Writing Credits:
Frederick Bailey, C.J. Santiago

Starring:
Kathryn Witt, William Steis, Laura Banks
Taglines:
1. It waits underwater...to skin you alive!
Alternate Titles:
1.
Demon Paradise
Review Date: 10.1.20

Shadow's Title: "Dumbass of Paradise"

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Demon of Paradise

 

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Characters
Keefer – He was once Sheriff in Reno, but after failing to stop a serial killer, he decided he’d had enough of such “psychotic bullshit” and took a job in Hawaii where the worst thing he had to contend with was people selling illegal explosives. Little did he know that he’d be dealing with a monster straight out of local myth. He as the personality and demeanor of a block of wood, which apparently, is appealing to some people other than lumberjacks.
Annie – A herpetologist and no that does mean she studies sexually transmitted diseases. It means she is an expert on reptiles and amphibians, which is an amazing coincidence, since the monster of the film just happens to be a dormant reptile/amphibian man that was woken from its slumber. She shows more personality and emotion than Keefer, but I guess someone had to in this movie.
Cahill – Wave your fist at the film’s evil capitalist. She exploits the monster situation in order to increase business at the resort she owns. I’m not sure who would want to go there anyway. It’s miles from the ocean. The water is murky and brown. There are no beaches, just muddy shores. The sky is always overcast and to top things off, there’s a killer fishman disposing of the guests. I’d rather take my chances with the sharks.
Ike – The incredibly obnoxious reporter who gets wind of a death that may have been perpetrated by some kind of monster. He doesn’t believe the story for a second, he just wants to cash in on it. Sensing the opportunity to make some big bucks, Cahill hires him to be the PR director for the resort, which apparently involved wearing silly costumes and then being violently murdered by the monster he didn’t believe in. Irony thy name is Akua.
Gabby – A former nude model that is staying at the resort with her photographer and then uses the surrounding area for a photoshoot. This means we get to see her in some revealing outfits and even get a quick glimpse of boobs. She has aspirations of getting a movie contract and becoming a serious actress which has about as much a chance of happening as a leper becoming rock and roll’s greatest guitarist.
Ted – This was Gabby’s poor photographer. In addition to taking the pictures, he had to constantly manage her because all she wanted to do was party, whether that meant over indulgence in booze, drugs or petty larceny. He was rewarded for his dedication and diligence by being shot when bad guys took Gabby hostage.
Shelton – This loser heads up a bunch of guys who are manufacturing and selling illegal dynamite to fisherman. Of course, all the locals claimed they were not using dynamite, so I have to wonder who really comprised his market, since the only ones who seemed eager to buy his stuff blew themselves up in the very beginning. After taking Gabby hostage, he meets Akua, which does not go well for him.
Langley – This was Shelton’s partner. They were always together, hanging out at the resort because that’s where they would meet potential buyers as well as whoever was supplying them with the materials to make the dynamite. Like so many other people in this movie, he wasn’t killed by the monster, but was on a boat when it exploded. I’m not positive this was his name, but the IMdB page left little options.
Blue – This guy gets stuck out in the jungle with Snake making sticks of dynamite while Shelton and Langley get to kickback at the resort. Resentful of this, he ventures to the resort one night and meets Gabby, whom he lures back to their jungle barge to share in the cocaine stash and no doubt hoping she’ll blow him. When he and Snake are distracted by Akua, she steals their coke and bails. Soon after he gets blown. Blown up that is.
Snake – This moron was stuck out in the jungle with Blue. An old barge that had been washed ashore in a small river inlet was where they spent their days packing sticks of dynamite and complaining about damn near everything. He’s the first to notice something splashing around out in the water, but unfortunately for him, he waltzed into their shack just as Blue was in the process of being an idiot and blowing it up.
Koby – This young kid lives in a nearby village. His dad does not believe in the myths and legends of Akua, so when the villagers are performing a ceremony to appease the beast, he takes his son fishing. The very first thing they catch is the monster itself, which pulls the canoe underwater, taking Koby’s dad with it. Koby manages to escape and later his dad’s mangled corpse washes up on shore.
Akua – A monster that last appeared to menace people fifty years ago and has now been awakened from his long sleep by dipshit fisherman using dynamite. It’s some sort of humanoid reptile/amphibian thing that amazingly enough, has shown up in the local myths and legends, but not the local fossil record. It spends its time clearing its territory of these annoying humans who seem to be everywhere.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Dopamine FedorasThe first thing we see is a body of water, green foliage on the hills in the background. A pair of boats float next to each other and text informs us that this location is Kihono, Hawaii. Don't bother with google maps, the place, like Hogwarts, is entirely fictional. A couple of explosions in the water send up plumes of froth. On board the larger of the two boats are several guys and it seems one pair is selling dynamite to the others and the explosions were samples of what their wares could do. Impressed, the buyers fork over the money.

The two sellers, who are named Shelton and Langley, now take their smaller boat back along the waterway to a small inlet off the main river. There they have set up shop in an old run down barge where two other morons named Snake and Blue spend time handling the materials and creating the dynamite. These two are angered over the fact that they are stuck out in the heat, sitting on top of all that explosive material while Shelton and Langley get to hang out at some fancy resort. The first pair explains that the resort is the contact point for potential customers and material deliveries so they have to stay there. They depart, leaving Snake and Blue greatly annoyed.

Back at the other boat, we see the guys who purchased the dynamite now drunkenly lighting it and tossing it overboard, engaging in illegal dynamite fishing. Just as they light another three sticks bound together, the boat starts rocking violently. We see a scaly pair of hands emerging from the water, grasping one of the boat’s outriggers and shaking the shit out of it. A loud growl-like rumble is heard. The sudden movement causes the idiot holding the dynamite to drop it. He and another Caucasian stand there and looked confused while several native-looking – and dare I say it, smarter – guys, immediately throw themselves over the side and into the water. KABOOM!

Elsewhere, local law officers are patrolling the river on an airboat. Among the three men is Sheriff Keefer who is never without his cowboy hat, its sides turned up. They see and/or hear the explosion and head in that direction. When they get there, all there is to see is debris floating in the water. There are not even any bodies…or body parts. So I guess none of those fools managed to clear the deck before the boat went kablooey. Either that or there was something waiting for them in the water. Figuring the dynamite fishermen blew themselves up (which is exactly what happened, even if the morons had some help in doing so) they turn and leave. As the boat speeds away, the back of a scaly head and shoulders rises from the water to watch it leave.

Our title card and opening credits now unfold over a long, wide aerial shot of the airboat racing over the water. Don’t tell me this is Hawaii because it doesn’t look like it at all. No, I have not been to Hawaii myself, but never having been to China, I know would not confuse the Great Wall with say, Hadrian’s Wall in Great Britain. Likewise, I can see that despite sharing a tropical climate, this place is in no way Hawaii. The airboat pulls up to a wooden dock along the river and Keefer disembarks. He makes his way through a small village of simple huts and addresses the locals, telling them that using dynamite in the river is against the law. The village leader assures him that they only fish the old fashioned way.

One of the local youths named Koby runs to a larger house and calls to a woman named Annie. She is working in some sort of lab set up within the place and comes when the youth tells her that Keefer is here. Well, it sounded more like “Skeefper” when he said it. She arrives at the group just as one guy is espousing his theory that “Akua” is responsible for the boat disaster. Another guy brushes it aside, saying that Akua hasn’t bothered them for fifty years, so why now? Another guy suggests that the moron dynamite fishermen woke up this Akua and upon hearing that, the village leader says they need to perform a ritual to appease him. The skeptic wants no part of it and claims he is now going fishing (without dynamite of course).

Noticing Annie, Keefer half-jokingly suggests that she is the new expert on the local wildlife and maybe she can be of help. She smiles and thanks him for the endorsement. We cut to her lab next, where she and Keefer discuss her research. Turns out she is a herpetologist and is indeed an expert on reptiles and amphibians. She’s been working in this spot for three months now and Keefer cannot figure out what she is looking for. She claims to be on the lookout new species and mentions this Akua which the locals fear. He thinks it’s bullshit. She tells him to learn the difference between myth and superstition. Well, duh, one was a series of computer games and the other was a supernatural horror film from the early 80's.

The appeasement ceremony must now be underway because we see two guys down at the wooden dock, blowing into conch shells. Then a lone women starts singing in the local tongue. Soon she is joined by several other folks and they start singing and dancing. I was really beginning to think that this was the local variety hour or talent contest but after the singing and dancing, they each took up a long flowered vine and tossed it into the river. I guess this Akua really, really hates the smell of flowers and stays away, or he is flattered by the attention and doesn’t bother the villagers. Next up is more dancing from a group of pretty young ladies with percussive accompaniment from several guys beating pieces of wood with sticks. This is followed by a guy rapidly twirling a torch that is burning at both ends. Are we positively sure this isn’t a local edition of Star Search or something?

“I told you I wasn’t a fishnets kind of guy!”As this is going on, we see young Koby join his father, who happened to be the skeptic that decided to go fishing rather than partake in the ceremony. The two push off in their canoe. I’m not sure how far away from the show…er…ceremony they get, but we see dad cast out a fishing net and then begin to pull it back towards the canoe. It seems to be stuck on something. What should be entangled in the net and now pokes its head out of the water? A friggin’ monster, that’s what!! This thing has huge hands, a short snout with a big wide mouth, plenty of sharp teeth and lots of scales. It grabs the net, twists it and then turns and dives under the water, pulling the net – and the canoe – along with it. The canoe is pulled rapidly along by the monster and dad tells Koby to jump, which he does. The youth dives into the water and then climbs the stump of a dead tree that sticks up near the shore. He watches as his father, whose foot is entangled in some rope, is unable to free himself as the canoe vanishes beneath the water. He calls to his dad, but there is no response. This whole sequence is intercut with shots from the show…er…the ceremony, as if to really drive home how spectacularly it has already failed.

Two cars now race down a roadway. The first is a police vehicle with Keefer and two other officers. The second is driven by Ike who is a reporter and as a member of the press, wants to speak with Keefer. He follows Keefer to a small resort run by a woman named Cahill. As they arrive, his car starts to overheat. As he dances around and swears, trying to pop the hood without burning his hand, Keefer just laughs at his predicament. Cahill storms out and wants him to move his piece of junk vehicle, while we get a quick glimpse of the two dynamite sellers who use this place as their contact point. A tall, leggy blonde in a skimpy bikini waltzes past to provide some eye candy. Her name is Gabby and she walks off to shoot some pictures with her photographer, Ted.

Keefer is called away when he is informed that “the boat” is ready. Wherever he is off to, Ike wants to tag along, so he grabs his stuff and runs after Keefer. Cahill is not amused and threatens to have his crappy car towed away. Apparently Ike has gotten wind of a kidnapping and wants tag along for the story. Keefer does not answer any of his questions, but allows him on the boat. As they head out, they spy Gabby nearby posing for photos. Apparently she was a recent centerfold in a nudie magazine.

As the boat races across the water, Ike reminds Keefer of some bet between them. It seems the wager was whether or not Ike could dig up Keefer’s past, which he has. Keefer was once Sheriff in Reno, but was practically run out of town after failing to apprehend a maniac killer. Keefer says nothing aside from insulting Ike’s shirt. They arrive at the village we saw earlier, where the body of Koby’s dad has been laid out for all to see. Ike snaps photos while Keefer remarks on the lacerations inflicted upon the body. The village leader claims they were caused by “the claws of Akua.” Nearby is Koby, who sits along the shore, being comforted by Annie. Keefer tries to talk to him but is interrupted by Ike who practically shoves a camera in Koby’s face in order to snap a photo. Annie runs him off and Keefer walks away as well, seeing as how Koby doesn’t want to talk.

They return to the resort, where Ike uses the phone to call his editor and tantalize him with the story of a murderous aquatic beast, despite believing that no such critter exists. Cahill overhears him and then reaches over and hangs up the phone. He is annoyed, but she says that she wants to talk.

Elsewhere at the resort, the two dynamite sellers are discussing business. It seems the mob wants in on the action and they somehow think this will be fortuitous for them. They talk about easing Blue and Snake out of the business since the Mob will now be supplying them with stolen dynamite rather than just the materials to make it. By "ease" do they mean pop a cap in their asses and dump them down stream? Cuz that’s what I think they mean. They look over and see Gabby being photographed by Ted. A few seconds of her posing for pictures now follows. That woman has some long legs.

Next we see Cahill bringing a drink to Ike, who is working on his hoopty car. She thinks the whole monster thing could be good for business. Rather than play it up as a tragedy, she wants Ike to present it as a mystery to be solved, along the lines of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. She envisions all manner of tourists and researchers arriving to look for it it…and all of them staying at her resort. If he can pull that off, she offers him a full time job as public relations director. He gets a big grin and says that he is in. He’s in, all right…in over his head.

Meanwhile Keefer and Annie are visiting the county morgue where the coroner has performed an autopsy on the body of Koby’s dad. Oddly enough, he has no half-eaten sandwiches nearby. I thought all coroners were mandated by their union to eat a sandwich when performing an autopsy. He cannot determine what type of weapon caused the deep lacerations. He presents the only thing he found: an object that looks like a piece of bone or claw. Annie wants to take it to her lab for further testing. The coroner says that this will be the first recorded murder in Kihono. This upsets Keefer, who claims he took this job to get away from such “psychotic bullshit.”

A quick scene shows Ike boasting about how his story will draw crowds of people to the resort. He says he has a bestseller under his belt, no doubt thinking about cashing in even more with a book. Cahill asks if that’s all he has under there. I don’t think he heard her, because he just keeps blabbering on and on. Idiot.

Holy shit! The Geico Gecko has gotten pumped!Back at the village, Keefer and Annie return to find many of the villagers packing and leaving as if county officials just announced a homeless shelter was going in and property values were about to plummet. In her lab, Annie shows Keefer an artist’s rendering of what a hypothetical lizard man from ages past might have looked like. One that purportedly bridged the gap between reptiles and early primates. She then expounds on the history of reptiles and how they’ve been around for millions of years, predating other life forms on Earth, yadda yadda yadda. It seems she lends more credence to the legend of Akua than he does, but he does agree to help her find the missing boat belonging to Koby’s dad.

At the resort, Shelton confirms to Langley that a shipment from the Mob is on its way. A couple more days and they plan on bailing. As they walk they spy Gabby. Langley whistles appreciatively at her, but she says, “take a hike spaz ass," and walks away. Spaz ass? What kind of insult is that? Call the guy monkey dick or Tiny Tiki Dicky or anything that insults his manhood, but spaz ass? I think I would have been booed out of class with that one in the fifth grade.

So now Keefer, Annie and a couple cops are searching the river on an airboat. I’m thinking the film’s production rented that thing while filming and really wanted to get their money’s worth out if it, because we have certainly seen it a lot. Eventually they locate the tattered wreckage of the canoe in an inlet along the river. Looking it over, Annie finds another claw like the one found with Koby’s dad. A POV shot lets us know that something is watching from the water nearby and then submerges. Sheesh, that is some murky water. How can it see a damn thing? Later at her lab, Annie compares the claw she found with the one given to her by the coroner. The two line up perfectly, one having been broken off of the other.

We return now to dipshit incorporated aka the dynamite making fools hiding out elsewhere along the river on their flimsy barge, which looks like it is sitting more on land than in the water. Snake is kicked back with a fishing rod in his hand while Blue is packing dynamite sticks. Blue decides he’s had enough of it and announces he is going to go see Shelton and that they’re going to sell the remaining stock right away. Snake just tells him to bring back a couple of six packs. After Blue stomps away through the jungle, Snake gets a tug on his fishing line. He tries to reel it in, but the line breaks. That’s all that happens. I guess the filmmakers just wanted to remind us that these two morons were out here.

We return to the resort, which when viewed from the river doesn’t really look all that big. There seems to be one main building and a handful of beach chairs scattered in the grass along a stretch of river. Maybe there are more buildings hidden by the thick jungle growth. Maybe on the other side of the hill there is much more to the resort, including cabins, bars, restaurants and places to safely swim. Then again, maybe this is one of the worst resorts in Hawaii. Blue has met with Shelton, who is telling him to return to the barge. Blue wants to get rid of all the materials and fast. I guess he won’t be happy to learn that the Mob is moving in.

Keefer and Annie arrive and try to convince Cahill to quarantine the lake until they get handle on the situation. They are saying that this Akua is real, but they are not exactly sure with what they are dealing. Naturally, Cahill is aghast at the suggestion and has no intention of doing so, especially with a big tour group arriving soon. Boom, just like that we’re back on the airboat with Keefer and Annie. I guess they are going back to her lab. She is convinced there is a strange beast out there, having examined that claw. For him, it’s not enough evidence to convince him that the whole affair isn’t a hoax.

Night has fallen and at the resort model Gabby is complaining to Ted about the lack of "real” booze, cocaine and dancing. Ted goes to get a drink. Blue is near and overhears this. He offers her some coke and she follows him. Ted stumbles back and sees that Gabby is gone. Blue takes Gabby out to the barge where Snake is looking at the water with concern. While Blue sets up Gabby with her nose candy, Snake tells him that he keeps hearing something sloshing around out in the water. A quick shot shows Akua sticking his head out of the water before ducking back down. Snake calls Blue over to look and thinking that they see something, they walk off a bit down the shore. Gabby takes this opportunity to abscond with the pair’s supply of cocaine, stumbling back to her car and racing away back to the resort.

Blue and Snake return to their cabin to discover Gabby gone…along with their coke. They’re quite naturally upset, but they have more pressing concerns as a growl now comes from the water. As they look, Akua’s head rises up from the water and the creature waves its arm at them in a threatening manner. Snake races to get his shotgun and opens fire. Akua vanishes back beneath the water. Blue runs into the cabin to retrieve some dynamite, but knocks over the lantern in the process. Almost instantly the floor is on fire. Oddly enough, each of the previous times we saw someone enter or exit the cabin, there was no lantern there. Now all of a sudden it's right there for Blue to conveniently knock over. Snake pokes his head back in to the shack at the same time Blue turns around. They both see the flame approach the crates of dynamite sticks. You know where this going, right? Yep. KABOOM. The place goes up in a fireball. Akua watches from a distance and then dives back below the water.

A jolting transition leads us to Keefer standing over the remains of the shack/barge sometime the next day. Nearby is a small intact outboard motorboat (the same one Shelton and Langley were using in the very beginning to transport the finished dynamite to the buyers). Keefer tells his officers to find out who owns it.

“I don’t want to see anyone spanking the monkey.”At the resort a bus full of tourists arrives. The guests seem really happy to be there, but Cahill has to assure the tour leader that there is nothing to the stories he has heard about deaths in the area. She passes it off as just a gimmick. One guest named Luisa introduces herself to Ike, who is jumping around in a gorilla costume and acting like an idiot. There are no gorillas in Hawaii! Shelton and Langley notice the activity and plan on lying low, as they need to take possession of the Mob’s shipment the next day. They figure the more guests there are, the easier they can blend in. On the opposite side of the river, Annie is setting up a tent as part of her field research and looks dismayed at the arrival of so many potential victims for Akua. As the guests enjoy the amenities, Ike seems to be hitting it off with Luisa. Keefer arrives and isn’t too happy about all the people being around when he’s trying to investigate a murder. Cahill reminds him that his job is an elected position and if he wants to keep it, he had better do his job. She also wants him to detail an officer to patrol the resort grounds to ensure the safety of her guests.

Keefer spots Annie out on a boat in the middle of the river, decked out in scuba gear and preparing to dive. At the bottom of the river she finds an old rusted barrel with a human skull inside.

Pow. Night has arrived again. Annie sits on the bank near her tent. Keefer approaches and asks what she was doing earlier. She says she was just collecting specimens. They talk about the Akua and he says that if it does exist, they should not have much to worry about as without a mate, it will not reproduce. The chemistry between these two has been flatter than an anti vaxxer’s EKG, so why now all of sudden does she have the desire to kiss a man in a cowboy hat? They smooch, but she breaks it off when she thinks she hears something. They look around and what should come jumping and screaming out of the bushes? Nope, not Akua, but Ike with Luisa. Keefer pulls his pistol, but sees that it is just Ike. Annoyed, he tells Annie that he will buy her a drink and the pair departs. Wait! I thought Annie was on the other side of the river/lake? How did Ike and Luisa get there? Or was Annie now sitting on the resort's side? I'm lost.

Alone, Ike and Luisa walk along the shore to a canoe. A quick cut to the resort shows us Gabby all strung out and Ted trying to get her in gear so they can finish their photo shoot for the magazine he works for. They make plans for the following day, but all she seems interested in is partying afterwards. Back with Ike and Luisa, we see that they are lying in the canoe and have shoved off, now floating out on the lake. They are laughing and giggling, so I’m sure that at this point both of them are more sauced than a Peking duck. As they make out, we see Akua’s silhouette a short distance away. The creature submerges and draws closer. There is a splash and one of the oars is yanked away. Ike and Luisa look up to see Akua, who strikes out with a huge clawed hand and swipes at Ike. Luisa screams, jumps into the water and swims for shore. The blow that Ike took has left him a bloody mess. He falls over and Akua capsizes the canoe, spilling Ike into the water. He vanishes from view. Akua then notices Luisa making for the shore. Akua submerges and as we see Luisa swimming like mad, she is pulled beneath the water without so much as a squeak on her part. This turned out to be a pretty shitty vacation for her. I can see the T-shirt now: I went to Hawaii and all I got was murdered on the first night by a river monster.

Hearing the commotion, Keefer and Annie come out to investigate. All they see is a lone paddle floating a few feet from shore. Keefer wades out to retrieve it, but as he reaches for it, a hand juts from the water to grab his arm. It’s Ike! Keefer pulls him back to shore, but the reporter/PR director/gorilla suit wearer is quite dead, his face and chest all scratched and torn up.

Morning comes and Keefer and Annie are telling Cahill that with a dead man on the beach and a missing girl, there is a threat to her guests. Cahill thinks it was just a boating accident where Ike fell over, got run over by the motor and Luisa just ran off out of fear. Keefer wants to shut her down, but she says he would need a court order to do that. Keefer thinks there is a maniac on the loose while Annie believes it to be an animal that can survive up to half an hour on land if need be. It’s like each one of them is having a different conversation. Annie wants the lake and resort closed, but Cahill will not budge on the issue and wants them to leave.

Outside, Annie is upset with Keefer for not shutting down the resort. He says he cannot get a court order based on a myth. She thinks his idea of a human killer has no weight and hints at his past failure with such a case. She storms off, presumably back to her tent on the other side of the river. Keefer hops in a car with another cop. Shelton and Langley see them and try to nonchalantly back away. Keefer tells the other cop – who is driving – to go check them out. I'm not sure why that line was in there, because nothing more comes of it in the movie other than the cop identifying Shelton's name.

Meanwhile Cahill is organizing the great Akua Egg Hunt wherein the guests search the area for eggs hidden by the staff. Inside one of the eggs is a grand prize consisting of a free vacation. Gee, I hope it’s a free vacation somewhere else and not this dump. She jokingly warns them to look out for Akua, as the beast doesn’t like people messing with his stuff. They’re probably expecting Ike dressed in another idiotic suit. Speaking of Ike, Cahill doesn’t seem the slightest bit sad, annoyed or even bothered that the guy is dead. Yeah, he was annoying, but she should at least appear to be somewhat upset by his demise.

Try new SLIME body wash.“I get such a kick out of this!”The guests now run all over the place, trying to locate the eggs. Some staff members wear masks and jump from the water to scare guests and then do a little dance, while others are made up to look all torn and scratched up like they just tried to bathe a cat. After a lot of running around and goofiness, one guy finally locates the grand prize egg, which is nothing more than a soccer ball, hidden in the stuffed head of an alligator.

Out on the lake, atop a houseboat, Ted is snapping photos of Gabby. She’s getting bored with the whole process and whines about not having a movie contract. Ted assures her that once people see the results of this shoot, the offers will be pouring in. She wants to be taken as a serious actress, which is just about the most knee-slapping, gut-busting, side-splitting, pants-wetting funny thing I’ve heard in a long time. Gabby now claims that she is hot. She removes her top, revealing her boobs and then jumps into the water. Ted snaps photos as she frolicks in the water, but after thinking he sees something, claims he has to go change the film in his camera. Again, nothing comes of this moment.

Elsewhere, Annie is suited up and preparing to dive again. This time after swimming around along the bottom, she locates the body of Luisa, held down under an old log. Freaked out, Annie returns to her boat, races to shore and heads for her tent. There she just sits and stares at the water with a blank expression on her face, as if practicing for a career as a professional poker player.

At the Kihono community center, which also seems to house the Sheriff’s office, Keefer gets a report on the boat they found. It’s registered to a mainlander named Leon Shelton who was convicted of illegal possession of explosives and who jumped bail before his sentencing. Figuring Shelton’s connection to their own dynamite fishing problems, Keefer wants to go arrest him ASAP.

Night has come again and the festivities at the resort are in full swing. People are drinking and some are dancing with all the slick moves of a brick on skates. Cahill presents the grand prize to the winner of the egg hunting contest, which also is the same guy who was the tour leader. Coincidence?

Somewhere out in the dark, Shelton and Langley are making the rendezvous with their contact and taking into possession a bag of dynamite sticks. This is when Keefer and three other cops arrive. Shelton and Langley see the law officers and run. They produce hand guns and open fire. The cops take cover and return fire, and just like that the movie has turned into an episode of Hawaii Five O! Hearing all the gunfire, the guests scatter like kids caught urinating on the neighbors’ prized roses and run in all directions. Shelton and Langley race into the resort, the cops hot on their asses. They encounter Gabby and Ted. The former is quickly grabbed as a hostage while the latter is pushed to the ground and shot when he tries to pick himself up. Poor Ted. I guess that’s a better way to check out than being ripped apart by the monster.

Shelton and Langley back towards a boat on the shore, holding Gabby up as a shield as Keefer and the other cops pursue. Langley goes to start the boat while Shelton continues to hold Gabby hostage. She manages to break away and runs down the beach. Shelton chases after her. Langley fires his gun from the boat, prompting Keefer to return fire with his shotgun. It was one hell of a shot, because the entire boat explodes, taking Langley with it. Maybe he hit the dynamite? Out in the water, Akua watches the flaming vehicle.

Shelton catches Gabby again and forces her to run down the beach. He trades fire with the cops a time or two, but no one can score a hit until Shelton manages to take out one of the officers. Now backed up against some empty docks with nowhere to go, Shelton and Gabby end up waist deep in the water. Suddenly Shelton gets a look on his face as if something just swam into his shorts and bit his nuts. Then he is violently pulled under the water in a single splash. Gabby begins to scream, but then really lets loose like Fay Wray when Akua pops up a few feet away and snarls at everyone. Keefer looks shocked to see the beast, but only for a second. Gabby starts running away from the creature and the cops begin firing at it. Akua turns and dives back under the water.

Morning comes and it’s a near stampede as the guests rush to board their tour bus and get the fuck out of dodge before they are the next one shot, drowned or eviscerated. Cahill is pleading for everyone to stay, but they cannot get on that bus fast enough. The last time I saw people flee the premsies so fast was during an Andy Dick performance. We see poor Gabby loaded into her own car and driven away as well. What, does the county not have the funding for a single ambulance? Keefer arrives with a court order shutting down the resort. Cahill wants to know when she can reopen. He says once the creature is on ice, but the governor’s office has informed him that the National Guard cannot be mobilized to help in the hunt for another couple of days.

Keefer and his men head out on their airboat. Annie races from the other shore to meet up with them. She wants to accompany them on the hunt but Keefer refuses. She then gives him some tips on how to attract it and gives him a tranquilizer gun, asking him to try not to kill it. He won’t make any promises. She heads back to her camp while he and his men press onward.

“I think we’re gonna regret taking a leak in his river.”Time passes and we see them sitting stationary on the water, night having fallen. One guy is dangling a metal rod into the water and clanking it with another one, hoping to attract Akua. One guy then spots some bubbles in the water and everyone draws their weapons on it. Nothing emerges but then the boat starts to spin in the water like a top. They go to start the engine – which is just a great big fan at the rear of the boat, but Akua reaches up from the water and prevents the blade from spinning. They take a shot at him and he ducks back below. One deputy now starts to really lose it and starts crying for the other to start the engine. He looks like at any moment he’s about to drop a turd in his shorts. Another deputy grabs a radio and calls for help. A few seconds go by and everything seems calm. As they stand there staring at the water, a reptilian hand comes crashing through the boat from below. Keefer angles himself to shoot at it. As everyone recoils, one deputy falls over into the water. He splashes around and another deputy reaches for his hand. Then Akua appears behind him and tackles him. Akua then swipes at the guy with the outstretched arm and yanks him onto the water. Both deputies are never seen again.

Annie has conveniently decided to go for a boat ride herself and we see her cruising along in the dark. She comes along right after Akua tips over the boat with Keefer on it, sending him and the sole remaining deputy into the water. She sees them struggling in the water and races to their position. They manage to climb aboard just as Akua pokes up out of the water again. Keefer tells Annie to get them out of there, so she fires up the engine and they haul ass away from the monster. They return to the resort where Cahill berates Keefer for not killing the beast. She doesn’t give a shit that he lost two of his men.

Day comes and we see a helicopter flying over the river. You’d think this would be a military craft of some sort, but it looks like your average eye in the sky traffic reporting chopper from the local news TV channel. Aboard is Keefer, who is dropping dynamite into the water below as the pilot flies around. I wonder if that is dynamite they confiscated from the late Shelton and Langley. At the resort, National Guard soldiers are deployed and Annie watches as the chopper makes its sweeps. In the water, we see Akua's head as it tries to avoid the explosives. After a few more passes, the chopper lands and Keefer disembarks.

The commander of the guardsman has one of his men replace Keefer on the chopper and the vehicle takes to the air again. Everyone watches as the chopper makes several more sweeps. Then the guardsman spots Akua in the water and tells the pilot, who lowers the craft closer to the water. Bad idea. Like some sort of rocket, Akua comes flying up out of the water, grabs the chopper’s landing gear and pulls it back into the water. The guardsman in back bails and swims for shore while the vehicle explodes into flames. Everyone on shore just stares at the burning wreckage in shock. These entire sequence is goofy for several reasons:

1. The shot of the chopper with Akua holding on to it was obviously done with miniatures. The model chopper didn’t look too bad, but the action figure standing in for the monster was about as stiff as a cow patty that’s been baked in the sun for three weeks.

2. When we see the full size chopper lying low in the water, the blades have completely stopped spinning. I mean they went from full speed to absolute zero in about 2.5 seconds. I don’t believe that would have occurred without the chopper flipping over.

3. Almost instantly the vehicle bursts into flames. Why? It basically just landed really hard in water. Why would that cause it to catch fire? Plus, it’s half submerged! That’s some shoddy workmanship. Lowest bidding contractor indeed.

4. Finally, how could Akua bring down the chopper? His legs were almost fully out of the water. Without anything to ground him or brace himself against, thus anchoring his position, he could pull all he wants and the chopper would have continued to rise upward. It violates the laws of physics, unless his mass was much, much greater than that of the chopper and the pull from that much weight was more than the chopper could counter. All in all, it’s rather silly.

So once again it is night and now it is pouring rain. The commander of the National Guard is pulling his men, leaving only a token unit behind. He’s convinced the chopper explosion killed the monster, but when Annie asks why the body didn’t float to the surface if that was the case, he just answers, “There was nothing left of it.” You just gotta love these dipshit military guys in these movies. The writers have them acting so damn stupid and incompetent. In real life, I don’t think anyone would just assume the monster was killed by the explosion and then bail just as fast as he got there. I’m sure much more effort would be made to ensure that the creature was truly dead.

So a small unit of men are staying overnight in a tent on resort grounds. The commanding officer tells Keefer that nothing is moving around, so he’s going to post some guys on sentry duty and have the rest turn in for the night. Keefer’s lone surviving deputy takes some coffee to the guardsman and we see two sitting by a tent. A sudden roar breaks the night air and Akua appears in the bushes. One guy throws his coffee at it as they back away. All the other soldiers see it and start shooting at it. This is the first time in the movie that we get to really see a full body shot of Akua and I must say, I’m slightly disappointed. The make-up for the face, arms and hands has been quite excellent, looking far superior to many other cinematic monsters. Alas, the body is another story. I guess they didn’t have the funds to make the rest of the creature as good looking as the head and face, because it looks like nothing more than a baggy rubber suit, the kind of which you would have seen in some old Kaiju movie. The creature also has a long tail, which I’m sure is great for when it’s in the water and needs propulsion, but on dry land seems more of hindrance to the suit actor. Up until now the monster looked like a worthy successor to Universal’s Gillman, but now it just seems like a third rate foe for Ultraman to fight.

“What? Nobody here! Those damn kids are playing doorbell ditch again.”Akua approaches the resort, so Keefer, Annie, Cahill, the last deputy and two soldiers run inside and barricade the doors and windows. After a few seconds, the monster crashes through a glass window, so everyone rushes upstairs. Those with guns keep them trained on the stairs. Akua, never one to do the expected and not wanting to throw away a trick that works for it, pops up through the floorboards and grabs Cahill. She grabs desperately at the floor, but before anyone can try to help her, Akua pulls her down to her doom. The rest now race out a sliding door, down some stairs and out into the jungle. Akua breaks down the wall and comes after them.

I have two questions at this juncture: One: What happened to all those other guardsman? Did Akua kill them after it jumped out of the bushes? There were several and then suddenly we are down to two of them. What happened? Two: Why in the hell are these morons running into the damn jungle? Don’t the soldiers have a jeep nearby they can use? Failing that, surely Keefer and/or his deputy has a car nearby, why not use that? I mean, cramming five people into the vehicle might make for some cramped quarters and an uncomfortable ride, but given the circumstances, I’m sure everyone would be willing to endure it. There’s no need to bypass a ride Burial Ground style and go floundering off into the woods. How does that help their situation? What will they do now?

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

Lucky for them they run right into another group of guardsman. Seeing Akua coming, they spread out. Eventually they all convene at some old ruins along a hillside. Don’t ask because I don’t know what the ruins are supposed to be. The remnants of some ancient Hawaiian people? Who knows? Anyway, they decide to make a stand there and everyone readies for a fight. As the commanding soldier walks the perimeter, a hand from the bushes grabs him by the ankle. He lets out a truly girly scream for help and when the others look, we see Akua pulling the guy away through the jungle, only now they seem to be about fifty yards away. How did Akua get that guy over there so damn fast? As the guy screams for someone to help him, Akua drags him behind some bushes and we no longer see them. We do get to hear the guy’s continued cries for help and then he makes this horrible sound as if Akua was discovering the hard way whether his new captive was female or not. The guy’s cries finally fade away.

Daylight approaches and the entire group is still hunkered down at the ruins, keeping a watchful eye on the surrounding jungle. Akua can be heard growling and moving about, seemingly getting closer. Everyone preps their weapon, which in Annie’s case is her tranquilizer gun. Akua sees them and is about to attack when, like it does in real life, the sun rises over the hillside in about one second flat and can now be clearly seen in the sky. Akua looks at it, raises his arms to shield his face from the light and then turns and buggers off back to the river. Annie tells Keefer that they have an advantage in the daylight and if they are going to get him, now is the time. So Keefer leads the group in pursuit of the beast. Sixty seconds ago they were running for their lives from it, now they are chasing after it. I haven’t seen such a drastic turn in events since the Keystone Kops.

The group tracks the monster along the river shoreline and comes to a waterfall and small pool of water. When Annie asks, the Deputy says there is a cave up on the hillside. Annie bets this is where the monster is now, so they begin to make their way in that direction. They climb up and enter the cave. They split up, with the Deputy leading three guardsmen down one passage while Keefer, Annie and three others investigate another. After several minutes of watching everyone walk gingerly around the place, like they were Bilbo trying not to wake Smaug, Annie finally sees Akua leering at her from around a corner. She readies her tranquilizer and fires. It hits Akua in the mouth. The creature roars and pulls it out. Keefer now fires his gun and the commotion brings everyone else running to this location.

Akua falls over, seemingly from the tranquilizer, and lies still. Annie and Keefer approach but when they get near the creature rouses itself and stands. Everyone opens fire. Akua stomps towards a few of the soldiers, while both Keefer and Annie reload their weapons. One soldier cannot get his gun reloaded in time, so he unsheathes his knife and tries to take on Akua in hand to claw combat. One powerful swipe from Akua and the poor bastard is laid out on the ground, his neck no doubt snapped. Annie fires her tranquilizer gun again, scores another hit in the exact same spot and watches as Akua just pulls it out. The creature now turns to flee, and everyone continues to shoot at it.

“Well, it’s all over. Think we’ll ever act again?”Looks like a bloody Sasquatch turd after eating too many peppers.The monster runs outside and is making for the water when gunfire from all the pursuers brings it to a stop. It stands there as everyone unloads their magazines into it. A couple guys throw grenades, which don’t seem to help. Then one soldier gets the bright idea for all of them to toss their grenades in unison at the same time. The resulting explosions kill the monster, its head blown clean off and doing a spin in the air before hitting the ground.

Annie looks sad that such a specimen could not be captured alive. “I guess that’s the end of it,” Keefer says. “Ever pull the tale off a lizard?” Annie asks in way of reply. We then see Akua’s bloody severed arm floating down a stream and over some rocks. Cut to black.

 

The End.

 

Review

 

I decided to review this movie immediately after Up From The Depths solely because they were on the same disc together as a double feature. Cirio H. Santiago, who directed Demon of Paradise and was one of the writers, also produced Up From The Depths eight years prior. I am sure this accounts for why so much of this film is just a retread of the previous one. Philippines standing in for Hawaii? Check. An aquatic monster threatening guests at a resort? Check. The resort owner/manager more interested in making a buck than in the safety of the guests? Check. A hot model staying at the resort and doing a photo shoot nearby? Check. Just change the mentally deficient characters from the first film for the wooden ones in this movie, swap out the horrendous comedy and exchange it for some goofiness about criminals manufacturing and selling illegal explosives, and you have Demon of Paradise. In truth, it sounds worse than it really is, but not by much.

I’ve got to say, Up From The Depths did a much better job at convincing viewers that Philippine locations were set in Hawaii. There were sandy beaches, blue skies and clear water. In this film we get overcast skies, murky water and muddy shorelines. The resort seems to be situated more in a swamp than at any tropical lake that I’d want to visit. There are also no extras that can be mistaken for native Hawaiian people. I would have had a much easier time believing that the resort was in the Philippines, the scenery is just that much different. The film also suffers from inadequate editing. Many times continuity in these films is never that great, with people and objects changing position from to scene, but here we have a guy not only change his shirt and back, he also loses his mustache and then grows it back again! They must be putting something funny in those oversized drinks.

The one good thing the film has going for it is its monster. Akua – at least that’s how I assume it is spelled, looks fantastic and fortunately gets a lot of screen time. There’s a subtle sense of fear when it pokes its head up, gazes around then vanishes again beneath the surface. It makes you wonder where it might pop up next and given the brown murky water, that could be right next to you. Other times the beast lifts a clawed arm out to wave at somebody. I’m sure it was meant to look menacing, but to me it resembled the motion a dog makes when playing with another dog. Still, like I said, the monster looks really good…in the water. Unfortunately, once the creature rises from the river and begins ambulating around, it looks much more silly. The entire body is nothing more than a one piece rubber suit that doesn’t seem to fit the actor very well, resulting in a monster better suited for an old 50’s creature feature. This is rather a bummer because it is at the film's climax that we get the full on monster rampage, which would have looked so much better with a better suit.

In the end, there isn’t a lot I can say about this film that I didn’t say about Up From The Depths. It has the same weak points – bad characters – but for different reasons. Here they’re just wooden to point of being indistinguishable from the Tiki totems around them. The scenery is rather lackluster and the music is utterly forgettable. The only good thing is the look of the monster, which doesn’t exactly score a home run, either. Aside from the creature itself, this movie is only watchable because it hits so many of the same beats as earlier movies in the same genre. If you like monsters, give it a look. If you’re looking for anything else, you’ll most likely be disappointed.

 

Expect To See:
Action – There’s a shootout with criminals at one point that’s about as exciting as watching blind people play Ping Pong and then later there is a running firefight with the monster that has all the thrills of a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Gunplay – When you call out the National Guard, you can expect to see a lot of guns and in this film, quite a few of them get fired at the monster. Plus there’s a shootout between good guys and bad guys…and no, that doesn’t include the film producers.
Jungle Hijinks – The Philippines stand in for Hawaii and since the bulk of the movie takes place outdoors, there are numerous instances of people running, screaming, hiding and dying in the jungle. So in other words, it’s just like Florida.
Monsters – One bipedal humanoid with reptilian and amphibian qualities. Won’t attack until it is threatened, then look out! Is more likely to drown a human female than exhibit any desire to hump her, much to the relief of human females everywhere.
Mythology – Akua is a mythical monster that the local Hawaiians instantly blame for the mangled corpse of a fisherman. Their myths and legends lead them to perform an appeasement ceremony which does about as much good as a milk bucket under a bull.
Nudity – Don’t get too excited guys, cuz there will be very little of this. Model Gabby shows off her boobs at one point before diving in the lake for a swim. Yes, she’s in excellent shape, and so are they.
Romance – The movie spends almost zero time explaining the relationship between Annie and Keefer. They kiss at one point, but it has all the chemistry and passion of me kissing my aunt. No, not that aunt. The other one. Yeah, that one. Uh.......don’t ask.
Underground Hijinks – The final segment of the movie takes place in a system of caves and caverns as our plucky heroes hunt down the monster. The only time spelunking is less exciting is when you use it in a game of scrabble. 17 points, bitch!
Undersea Hijinks – A couple times Annie goes diving in the river, so technically it’s underwater and not undersea, but who’s going to quibble? She doesn’t encounter too much, except for the dead body of one of the monster’s victims.
Violence – Plenty of people meet unsavory ends, but for the most part it all happens off screen. We do see the scratched up remains of two victims, but the lacerations are only marginally worse than those suffered from anyone trying to hold a cat.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 21
Cigarettes smoked: 3
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 35
Cups of coffee consumed: 7
Boobs: 2
Trips taken in airboat: 7
Gunshots: Stopped counting at 100
Explosions: 32
Exploding boats: 3
Exploding helicopters: 1
Total number of destroyed watercraft: 5
Percentage of movie set in Hawaii: 100%
Percentage of movie shot in Hawaii: 0%
Percentage of movie set underwater: 1.54%
Percentage of movie I was drinking heavily: 35%

Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time someone says KEEFER or AKUA, take a drink.

02 Min – Rock-a-DIE-baby. Kablooey!
11 Min – That’s not a fish!
18 Min – What happened to the sound?
22 Min – That looks like a used condom. Ewww.
33 Min – Actually, yes…you do look like a liar.
36 Min – He was just waving hello!
36 Min – Kablooey!
45 Min – Apparently he travels with his own backlighting.
45 min – That’s gonna leave a mark.
51 Min – Boobies!
58 Min – Kablooey!
64 Min – Random act of violence against an airboat!
70 Min – Kablooey! Damn, a lot of shit blows up in this movie.
74 Min – Random act of violence against a window!
75 Min – Random act of violence against a floor!
75 Min – Random act of violence against a wall!
85 Min – Tripped over his own tail. Klutz.

 

Images Click for larger image

“Hey Captain, do you know if this
thing goes to the engi…”


Chuck liked showing off his
lizard to the ladies.




Be sure to drink your sea snail juice.

 
“Oh mighty log, we beseech thee,
please refrain from splintering our asses.”

Here comes trouble.

“I think I finally got that itch!”

 
Two fisted drinking is exactly how
I got through this movie, too.


 
“Yeah, I’d like know how I can
get out of this damn movie.”

Another Tiki-themed college frat
party comes to an end.

“Earl Grey, just like Picard drinks.”

Akua was a natural for the
water polo team.

Annie’s idea of roughing it meant
only bringing the small latte machine.


“Is it contagious doctor? Doctor?
Doctor? DOCTOR? DOCTOR?!!!”

“Smile and say ‘Bulimia!’”

When the boss asks who wants
to work overtime.

“Here’s your new script pages. The
director agreed to my suggestion
that you and I have a sex scene.”


“Here fishy fishy fishy.”
“That’s not how you attract fish, Carl.”

Get to da choppa!

"Sorry, we’re out of coffee and donuts,
but we do have Kool-Aid and crackers.”

“Raar! I’m a mons…Shit! I am so lost.”

 

Immortal Dialog
Keep In Mind

Annie wants Keefer to keep an open mind when it comes to the legend of Akua.

Keefer: “Sorry. Cops are just suspicious of pranks. We’re naturally skeptical.”
Annie: “I don’t know. All the pan fried toxic muck we throw at this planet…you never know what it might throw back at you.”

Shadow’s Comment: The answer to that is simple: Covid-19.


  • Hawaiian ceremonies to appease local monsters resemble variety shows.
  • Contrary to the brochures, Hawaii does not have clear water or blue skies.
  • Aquatic reptile men are appeased with flowers and dancing rather than fish.
  • Monsters should always be exploited for monetary gain.
  • Beer in Hawaii is tinted green.
  • When purchasing illegal narcotics, always follow the seller to his jungle hideout.
  • People are transferred to the hospital in their own vehicle rather than an ambulance.
  • The National Guard rents or borrows civilian helicopters when needed.
  • The ambient light in your average cave is about 200 lux.

Discussing who the killer may be.

Keefer: “Look, I think there’s a psycho on the loose but whoever it is…”
Annie: interrupting “I’m telling you Keefer, if I am right this thing is not confined to water. It can exist for half an hour or longer on land.”
Cahill: “I suppose it could just waltz right in here and make a phone call, too.”

Shadow’s Comment: It has to get in contact with its agent somehow!

 

Movie Trailer
This Film & Me
This was the rare movie that I had never heard of at all until it popped up on DVD. There was a VHS release, but if I ever saw it in the video store back in the day, I completely forgot all about it. Given how much time my friend and I haunted those places looking for horror movies to watch, I’m willing to bet that our area never had it. I had heard of Up From The Depths, which was produced by the same man who directed this one, so I understand why the films were paired up back in 2012 for the DVD double feature. I bought the disc as soon as it came out based on Up From The Depths, so Demon of Paradise was a welcome bonus. Yes, the two films are very similar, but Demon has IMO the better looking monster. At this point, I don’t feel any great need to upgrade to Blu-ray…if it ever gets a blu release.


 

Rating
Shadow Says


Shadow's rating: Four Tombstones



The Good

  • Monster's head/face looks great
  • Boobs!
  • Lots of monster action

The Bad

  • Monster's body looks rubbery
  • Phillippines are poor stand in for Hawaii
  • Damn near a remake of Up From The Depths

The Ugly

  • Wooden characters
  • National Guard portrayed as morons
  • Physics thrown out the window

 

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