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John’s Horror Corner: Def By Temptation (1990), an entertaining B-movie about a demonic temptress.

March 25, 2016

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This movie has a ton of different movie posters and release titles.

MY CALL: If you love bad 80s horror and make yourself watch this (the whole movie), I think you’ll appreciate it for its zaniness, gore, campiness and diverse effects. But don’t watch 20 minutes and decide “this sucks” and promptly stop watching. Trust me, it’s worth it. MORE MOVIES LIKE Def By Temptation: Vamp (1986) was a quality flick about a female vampire seductress that was occasionally funny and had decent effects. Another black vampire movie would be Vampire in Brooklyn (1995). Movies that share this level of bad 80s lunacy would be Nightwish (1990), Prince of Darkness (1987), Dreamaniac (1986), Night Angel (1990), Ghosthouse (1986), Manitou (1978) and Deadly Blessing (1981). ALTERNATE TITLE: Vampire in New York and Black Vampires.

This is gory, silly, bad 80s horror fun at its best…as long as you can make it through the first hour. Featuring distractingly horrible editing and abject storytelling, this movie stars and was written/directed by James Bond III, who thankfully never directed anything else. This alone should tell you all you need to know. But, just for funsies, let’s review it anyway…

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Back in the 70s-90s horror directors seemed to think that if you add a snake to a scene it makes it creepier.  Even if someone is just holding it.  Like the Salma Hayek striptease in Dusk ’til Dawn.

This film opens introducing us to a womanizer who earns a brutal fate at the hands of a supernatural seductress (Cynthia Bond). The scenes feature full frontal male nudity as the man runs, screaming for his life. I feel like they were trying to present this to elevate the intensity, vulnerability and desperation; to set a dire tone. It worked..

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Ah, yes.  The old “blood in the shower” trick.
So this is where Blade got the idea for the blood rave.

But in subsequent scenes, things feel more campy. As if, shortly after this scene, the movie decided to stop taking itself so seriously. Unfortunately, the writing, acting, and pretty much everything else about this film is similarly inconsistent.

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I can’t speak for everyone, but it strikes me as simultaneously creepy and sexy to have someone in the room playing the saxophone while I’m having sex.

The nature of our seductress remains a mystery for much of the movie. We don’t know how or why she kills. Just that she does. At one point I thought she was a demon or a succubus or some other manner of infernal temptress. A brief glance of a clawed (and maybe hairy?) hand made me wonder if she was later a werewolf.

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Is she a were-warthog?

As the story weakly progresses, we get glimpses of vampirism. But this movie neither follows “the rules” of vampirism nor demons nor does it clearly lay out its own new rules. She has no reflection in the mirror, walks around in daylight, holy water gives her thrashing indigestion and the right Biblical verse will make her head explode. At one point she seems pleased to have afflicted a lecherous victim with a disease and his skin forms perhaps blistering legions–but the scene is so poorly staged that I wasn’t entirely clear if it was meant to be caused by sunlight…or if it would continue until he died regardless. But then why is she not so affected? And what the Hell even happened to that guy? Did he die? We never know!

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The special effects, like most 80s and early 90s horror, is heavily biased towards the last third of the movie. Some blood here and there, wounds and skin lesions, and a clawed hand don’t make for a promising first hour. But the last 30 minutes offers someone being “eaten” by an evil TV, our succubus assumes her demon form (multiple different forms), and there are some scenes of spewing gore.

DEF BY TEMPTATION, Kadeem Hardison, 1990.

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 Bride of Pumpkinhead?

The other element that typifies the third act is LUNACY! It’s hard to keep track of precisely what’s going on…is this a dream, an illusion from mind control, a flashback mixing with the present? It sort of turns into a fever dream. For some reason in a single scene we see our protagonist fighting the succubus in New York City, his grandmother (who lives in North Carolina) suddenly appears in New York and his dead father lectures him…again, all in one scene! And no, it wasn’t a dream nor was anything explained. But therein lies the joyous madness of bad 80s horror.

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Despite being horribly edited, I enjoyed the flashback sequence with Samuel L Jackson (The Hateful 8, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) as Joel’s minister father and Bill Nunn (Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead) who we meet as a guy with a new lie for every girl he tries to pick up at a bar…like making kung fu movies with Bruce Lee or being a race car driver. But he also turns out to be an important character and even when he’s not trying to pick up hotties, he has by far the best lines! Kadeem Hardison (White Men Can’t Jump, Vampire in Brooklyn) also has his moments…good and bad (but mostly bad). But our writer/director/star simply shits the bed with his character’s attempts to be soulful and inflexive.

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If you love bad 80s horror and make yourself watch this (the whole movie), I think you’ll appreciate it for its zaniness, gore, campiness and diverse effects. But don’t watch 20 minutes and decide “this sucks” and promptly stop watching. Trust me, it’s worth it.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2016 12:47 pm

    ‘I can’t speak for everyone, but it strikes me as simultaneously creepy and sexy to have someone in the room playing the saxophone while I’m having sex.’ That sentence was so funny.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 25, 2016 12:55 pm

      Haha! I aim to entertain and if providing my unfiltered thought process on this website accomplishes that, then so be it.

      • March 25, 2016 12:58 pm

        Honesty is the best policy and your unfiltered thought process is highly entertaining.

  2. March 30, 2016 2:47 pm

    I absolutely loved that you reviewed this movie! This is one of my favorite Troma movies. You achieved your goal, you’re full of awesomeness. 🙂

    • John Leavengood permalink
      March 30, 2016 2:48 pm

      Well I’m glad you’re glad. Watching (and reviewing) this was pure joy after a slow start. Such bonkers-tactic fun.

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: Girlfriend from Hell (1989), an insufferably boring Devil uses sex to consume souls and drive us to prayer for a merciful death. | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: The Night Feeder (1988), an incredibly obscure film featuring a brain-eating mutant monster baby. | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: Evil Clutch (1988) aka Il Bosco 1, a horrible Italian flick that makes no sense. | Movies, Films & Flix

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