Film Review: Sex Demon ★★★★ – plays select cities October 2023

Turns out there was a “Demon Twink” out there all along. He was just hiding in a previously believed to be lost film that had stopped circulating in the corners of gay adult films for almost four decades.

Following screenings in Los Angeles and New York in 2021, J.C. Cricket’s Sex Demon plays Manhattan’s IFC Center this October 27th and 28th as part of the late night The Red Eye series (plus showings in Seattle, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco – see below for details), with a digitized scan of a recently recovered print after never being reproduced on video after its short shelf-life at gay theaters in the late 1970s. The film is the gay porn loose remake of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist and while there’s no prosthetic head spinning, levitation, or pea soup vomiting, this film is just as disturbing, discomforting, and frightening as the horror classic. Cricket’s film is audacious and miraculous in its ingenuity, while also getting really under your skin with its intensity. Sex Demon is unforgettable.

Cricket—who also went by various other pseudonyms when making later gay adult films like Linus Terri, Peter North, and Jimminy Crickett—was a trained dancer, sex worker, and burlesque performer in New York. He was only in his twenties when he concocted the plot that sees a gay couple, John and Jim (Jeff Fuller and Steve Spahn), whose anniversary is turned upside down thanks to a cursed medallion (John’s anniversary gift to Jim) purchased at a Christopher Street antique shop.

Released in 1975, Sex Demon is much more envelope pushing than a mere porn spoof of a popular film. The scares, violence, and angst are very much tied to the rough sex acts that are wrought under one character’s demonic possession. This is to say anybody looking for an ironic viewing to laugh at may find themselves feeling queasy at a few choice moments. While any person with limits regarding a certain hardcore sex act that involves a clenched fist should tread lightly. But if you want a pretty ambitious vintage porn film that delivers more than cum shots and cheap thrills in the dark, dirty heart of 1970s New York, this film is for you.

While there were other gay adult films from this period like Peter de Rome’s extremely unsettling The Destroying Angel and Michael Zen’s eerie gallery of the bizarre Falconhead that intersected art, horror, and all-male pornography, the low-budget jagged, grime of Cricket’s Sex Demon adds a sense of texture and spirit that feels more unsafe than those films. The allure of the fact that this film was found (although not completely rescued with part of the opening credits missing) adds a kind of mystique to it. Almost like finding a demonic amulet in a Christopher Street antique shop.

The depraved and disturbed individuals who are responsible for unleashing this film to the public include Elizabeth Purchell, whose tireless work in queer archiving has included recovering several believed to be lost gay adult films and producing a podcast, Instagram page, and collage film—all titled Ask Any Buddy—should be commended. These screenings of Sex Demon are a reintroduction to a piece of queer cinema history with body horror that makes Julia Ducournau’s maximalist arthouse hit Titane look like a Herbie film by comparison.

By Caden Mark Gardner, Film Critic

Sex Demon plays New York’s IFC Center on Friday October 27th and Saturday October 28th at 11:30pm as part of the weekly late night The Red Eye series programmed by Evan Schwartz, preceded by the North American premiere of a new Fire Island set short film by Todd Verow, Last Year at Belvedere (also screening at the 18th PFF Berlin).

Sex Demon also plays on October 6th and 7th at Northwest Film Forum, Seattle; October 10th at
Stray Cat Film Center, Kansas City; October 13th at Spacy, Dallas; and October 30th at 4 Star Theater, San Francisco.

SEX DEMON (dir. J.C. Cricket, 1975)

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