Sunday, October 18, 2020

DEMONS (1985) Blu-ray Review

SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 17
Total First Time Views: 9
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,212.44

Demons (1985) d. Lamberto Bava (Italy) (88 min) (5th viewing)

Classmates Cheryl (Natasha Hovey) and Cathey (Paola Cozzo) blow off their nightly lecture to attend a free screening at the newly renovated Metropol Cinema, mingling with a wide array of individuals ranging from pimps (Bobby Rhodes) and prostitutes (Geretta Geretta, Fabiola Toledo) to amorous teens (Fiore Argento, Guido Baldi) to a cranky old married couple celebrating their anniversary (Stelio Candelli, Nicole Tessier) to a blind gentleman (Alex Serra) and his niece Liz (Sally Day), as well as a couple of “nice guys” George (Urbano Barberini) and Ken (Karl Zinny). As they all settle in to watch a new horror movie, the terrifying events in the theater begin to mirror those occurring onscreen, resulting in a cavalcade of bloody, gory, outlandish, and thoroughly whacked-out proportions.

When I was just getting into Italian horror, my good friend David White did me the favor of passing along a number of “gateway flicks” to introduce the various flavors of the genre: Mario Bava’s black-and-white masterpiece Black Sunday, Dario Argento’s Opera, and Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery. But he wanted to save a certain film until we could watch it together, or more to the point, when he could watch me watch it. As Lamberto Bava’s fifth feature film unspooled before us (and yes, that is the proper terminology, as we were still watching VHS at the time), I understood exactly what he meant.

With a script by Bava, Argento (who also produced), Dardano Sacchetti (City of the Living Dead), and Franco Ferrini (Phenomena), Demons pretty much does its humble best to quickly gather everyone in one place before proceeding to throw everything and the kitchen sink at them. Yes, the film is ostensibly about a haunted mask and/or movie that transforms everyone who is bitten, scratched, or looked cross-eyed at by one of the afflicted parties into ravenous demons, but it’s much more akin to a tightly packed string of pearls, with each moment its own perfect example of jubilant splatter and insanity. (Insplanity?)

From pustules bursting on a lovely woman’s face to lovers being strangled in a death kiss by theater ropes, from motorcycle-riding samurai sword-wielding heroes to chair-flinging pimps, from hideous monsters emerging from people’s backs to random helicopters falling through ceilings, pretty much everything that can happen does happen, all set to the hard-rocking tunes of Billy Idol, Motley Crue, Saxon, Accept, Pretty Maids… and Rick Springfield.

However, unlike Fulci’s nonsensical nightmare scenarios, Demons manages to create and sustain a bizarre inner logic, powered by a frantic energy that never flags. Characters are quickly sketched out and breathed into being by an enthusiastic ensemble that goes straight for the chandeliers with reckless abandon, while Sergio Stivaletti (Mother of Tears) delivers jaw-dropping special effects that literally stop the show so we can watch every grotesque and gruesome detail.

For folks looking to ease their fellow blood brethren into the Italian horror pool, you would do well to follow Mssr. White’s lead and introduce this to your friends post haste. (I also understand a certain Film Deviant, Bryan Martinez, is also a fan, so check out his passionate discourse HERE.) 

Trivia: That's little Nicoletta Elmi from Bay of Blood all grown up as our fetching redheaded usher.


High-Definition 1080p transfer from original vault materials in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio, featuring all-new color correction supervised by Synapse Films

Contains both the “International English” stereo language soundtrack, as well as the “U.S. Mono” English alternate dub soundtrack

Original U.S. theatrical trailer

Newly-translated English SDH subtitles provided for both English versions

Demons is available now on Blu-ray from Synapse Films and can be ordered HERE:

SPECIAL BONUS: Watch the Kicking the Seat round table, recorded October 16, 2020 featuring Ian Simmons, Bryan Martinez, Jon Kitley, and Aaron “Dr. AC” Christensen HERE:


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