Daemos Rising Review

Kate Lethbridge Stewart (Beverley Cressman), daughter of Brigadier Alistair, receives an urgent message from former UNIT man Douglas Cavendish (Miles Richardson). She travels to his house in the British countryside. Douglas is in a terrible state, hitting the bottle, and terrorised by a sinister statue in the grounds and a presence that haunts the house…

Daemos Rising is an unofficial spin-off from Doctor Who. David J. Howe’s script brings in a member of the race vanquished by the Doctor in the 1971 serial The Daemons. Kate and Douglas were supporting characters in a previous video, Downtime (1995). The story also brings in concepts from the Time Hunter series of novellas from Telos Publications, whose co-owner is Howe, an authority on Doctor Who and writer or co-writer of several books on the subject. That’s a lot of baggage for a story that runs under an hour, and Daemos Rising tends to be plod as a result, not helped by some clunky dialogue and an anticlimactic ending. The video-shot production is certainly very competently made on an obviously low budget and the acting fair enough – Miles Richardson is the son of Ian, who provides the opening narration – but Daemos Rising just lacks the vital spark. It never really takes off.

Daemos Rising was shot on video, and the DVD transfer is in the ratio of 1.78:1 but non-anamorphic. It’s a good picture, with some softness no doubt due to the video source. Shadow detail is somewhat lacking and there is some artefacting in darker scenes. Reeltime Pictures – the production company and distributor – have had previous experience with corporate videos and Who-related documentaries, and it shows. This isn’t up to the sharpness or the colour saturation of a major-studio product, but then it wasn’t shot in 35mm.

The soundtrack is certainly impressive. A 5.1 mix makes good use of the five channels, with much directional sound. The subwoofer fills in the bass, particularly in the opening narration and while the alien is speaking. Collectors of flashy soundmix moments will like the one where the camera zooms in and the offscreen voices move from centre to the surrounds.

There are twenty-one chapter stops but no scene selection menu, nor any subtitles. It says “Regions 2 +4” on the box, but Daemos Rising is in fact encoded for all regions.

The extras consist of six featurettes. “Behind the Scenes” (20:21) is a video diary of the seven-day shoot, with some jokey captions. “Cast and Crew” (9:02) interviews Keith Barnfather, David Howe and others in split-screen format with the interviewee in one box and an extract from the production or some behind-the-scenes footage in the other. “Guy Leopold Speaks!” (3:09) interviews the Barry Letts and Robert Sloman, writers of The Daemons under the pseudonym “Guy Leopold”. “Creature Feature” (4:24”) showcases prop-maker Philip Robinson, while “Making Music” (4:36) does the same for score composer Alistair Lock. Finally, “Kents Cavern” (4:14) is a short piece on the principal location, near Torquay. All the featurettes are presented in 4:3. On the main menu is a page of contact details for Reeltime Pictures, and a weblink.

Daemos Rising is one for fans of Doctor Who, people who are likely to seek out a spin-off like this one, produced at a time when the show was not on the air. Also, fans will be more likely to pick up the various references to Who than the general public.

Daemos Rising can be ordered from Reeltime Pictures.

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