Doctor Who: The Daemons – DVD Review

The Doctor meets the Devil or something like that.  The Master, it isn’t much of a spoiler here, brings forth an alien that looks exactly like old Scratch and also evokes a good dose of Hammer horror. 

In the town of Devil’s End, an archeological dig is excavating the notorious Devil’s Hump burial mound.  Archeologist Prof. Horner (Robin Wentworth) is going to open the tomb at exactly the stroke of midnight with a BBC reporter (David Simeon) standing by and the whole thing being aired on live TV.  Local white witch Olive Hawthorne (Damaris Hayman) warns the professor that evil is afoot but he just scoffs.

Something is afoot since the new vicar, Mr. Magister (Roger Delgado), bears a striking resemblance to the Master.  Meanwhile, the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) is rigging his car Bessie for remote control, but when he sees the television coverage of the dig he senses something is up.  He grabs his assistance Jo Grant (Katy Manning) and heads for the sleepy village followed by Capt. Yates (Richard Franklin) and Sgt. Benton (John Levene). 

Sure enough, when the tomb is opened a hoofed, devilish force called Azal (Stephen Thorne) escapes and is summoned by the Master, placing the entire village under a heat barrier and reviving a stone gargoyle (Stanley Mason).  The Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) gets wind of the doings in Devil’s End and has to circumvent the barrier, grumble about his destroyed helicopter, and order that five round rapid be shot at that winged chap.  Jolly good. 

The Daemons is a personal favorite that successfully melds the likes of Dennis Wheatley, Hammer horror, and the science fiction styling of Doctor Who.  Add to it the fact that it stars my favorite Doctor, a devilish turn by Roger Delgado in full satanic priest mode, a hint of the Wicker Man, and even a cameo by the devil his-self or an alien approximation of – what’s not to love?  It even adds some juicy bits for Franklin and Levene who were usually reduced to standing in the background in the UNIT pantheon. 

The Brig would seem to get pushed to the sidelines but when he does arrive he gets to utter a line that makes you revel in him more, not to mention a bit at the end with he and Yates that turns out to have been made up by the actors on the spot.  Damaris Hayman is channeling Margaret Rutherford from Blithe Spirit and is even wearing her cape borrowed from the old girl herself or so she says on the commentary. 

The effects still hold up in a nostalgic way, except for Azal’s drooping tights.  Stanley Mason comes to life memorably as the gargoyle and surely scared the hell out of the kids.  The villagers were delighted when Doctor Who came to town and Pertwee and company even returned to Devil’s End in 1996 for a documentary (sadly not on this DVD).  The detriment is that the threat is wrapped up rather quickly and a mite illogically.  This episode still stands out as a highlight of the Pertwee years. 

The Daemons is presented in fullscreen.  Special features on disc one include a commentary by Manning, Franklin, Hayman, and director Christopher Barry and pop-up trivia notes.  Disc two has the 28 minute “Devil Rides Out” making of, the 33 minute “Remembering Barry Letts” about the late producer/director, the 6 minute “Amateur Film” 8mm footage that a local made, a 25 minute “Colorization Test” which is an episode, the 5 minute “Tommorrow’s World” about the restoration of the episode, a photo gallery, and the Radio Times Listings on DVD-ROM. 

The Daemons offers some Hammer frights and great performances.  It shows Jon Pertwee at the height of his powers and this new DVD offers a helluva lot of fantastic special features.  My highest recommendation as devil’s advocate. 

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Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.