Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
An audience full of strangers are invited to a mysterious screening of a horror flick at a West Berlin movie house, where one by one they are turned into flesh eating, pus spewing demons! Will anyone make it out of the theatre alive? And is anyone not so annoying that we would even care if they lived or died? Allow this Italian horror classic to solve all of your mysteries. Just don't put on the bloody mask, okay?
Is it good movie?
They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs
Okay okay, yes this is about as cheesy as 80's European horror can get. And it doesn't get any better. One of the main things that make this movie a classic is how bad some parts of it really are. Sure the story is terrible, and the acting is, in almost every scene, so painfully bad that it makes you want to run screaming from the room of kick kittens for field goals. But the terrible story is a uniquely original one, and both it and the horrible acting are setups for the real showcase of this movie: The Gore. Simply put, this movie does not disappoint when it comes to the blood and guts (and pus and more blood and crazy claw and fang growing scenes...the list goes on and on!).
Co-Written and produced by Italian horror legend Dario Argento> and directed by the sometimes great/sometimes not Lamberto Bava, Demons is not only a landmark film for Italian horror (bringing the same goodies to the horror party that Evil Dead did over here), but it is also a significant contribution to the genre as a whole. Mixing 80's metal music and a score by legendary composer Claudio Simonetti (who also scored Argento's Susperia), and featuring the at-the-time amazing effects of Sergio Stivaletti (who's other incredible work includes Cemetery Man), this movie can be seen as a piece of work that is the culmination of many of the Italian masters of horror. And what they did was make a really bad movie both entertaining and watchable.
Starting with the often used premise of a movie within a movie, and quickly degenerating into a survival horror nightmare of infectious demons and really stupid victims, lame street thugs, inept decisions and a ton of gore, Demons features some impressive animatronic and makeup effects work, and while the unique story never fails to disappoint. While it may not be to the tastes of the newest generation of horror fans (you know them, the PG13 crowd that thinks everything before Screm was crap and that the pinnacle of horror is Hostel), but for true horror fans it doesn't get much better than this, if only for the combination of talents that went into this friday night, beer chugging 80's party movie and guilty pleasure. Sure, for a movie made in 1985, it doesn't stand up to some of the groundbreaking horror from our side of the pond, but as far as European horror goes, this is when the shit started to hit the fan in the best of ways. This new version, in widescreen for the first time and with a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack, is nicely done and really does the movie justice. So, Rock On Anchor Bay, and keep giving us the best stuff.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1.
Audio: English (Dolby Surround 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0) and closed captioning.
There is an excellent Audio Commentary by director Bava, effects creator Sergio Stivaletti and moderated (and in some cases translated) by horror journalist Loris Curci. Bava's English is not too great in places, making this a chore to listen too, but some parts are worth it. The insight into the development of his genius as a genre director are great. We also get some very short Behind the Scenes Footage, which is notable only as it shows how they pulled off the infamous transformation scene with the teeth. Finally we get some Trailers for this and other Anchor Bay/Starz releases, including the inferior Demoni 2.
Not without it's flaws (and in fact, almost universally loved because of them), Demons is of that rare breed of 80's horror flick that is so bad that it is great. Whether it's the shitty acting mixed with kick ass animatronics and effects, or the mix of 80's metal and demon munching fun, it is a creepy, funny, and unapologetic movie that never lets up. Definitely a must have in every horror fan's collection (and far superior to it's crappy sequel, which oddly enough was done by the same people), this new widescreen transfer of a classic film both looks and tastes great. Anchor Bay really knows their shit.