Tuesday, June 2

A Classic in Retro: Demons (1985)


"They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs.
"

A.K.A. Dèmoni
Directed by Lamberto Bava
104 Minutes / New World Pictures VHS from 1986 / Cropped from 1.66:1 to full screen

As noted before, 1985 was a fantastic year for Horror output outside of the Freddy/Jason lexicon and even though darker times were ahead--the Italians were seeing their film industry as they knew it rapidly crumbling around them. Demons represents one of the last meaningful alignments of the old guard, just before the once great or merely infamous pasta-lovin' directors began hittin' the skids with undeniably mediocre offerings. You knew it was truly dire when Italian television became an option for Fulci's soft focus nightmares. Then Claudio Fragasso had to fucking go and ruin this wilder brand of his country's horror for all times with the incredibly out-of-control ineptitude of Troll 2 in 1990.

Yet still we have Demons; the pinnacle of free-for-all, exploitation-free, heavy metal-laded horror from the boot-shaped country. Despite most seeing it as an emulation of the lighter teenage American horror of the era, it acts more like a European answer to the increasingly theatrical hack and slashes the American mainstream was lapping up.

The title says it all, the makers weren't going for the creation of a new slasher icon, instead opting for a rapid fire spin of the tested Night of the Living Dead formula. Bava never has lived up his father's genius, but to his credit his film still feels relatively fresh and he had the balls to shoot downright zany things like demons jumping over twenty rows of seats while our very Nordic hero blazes through the aisles on a dirt bike armed with a samurai sword with das Metal in step. A metal-faced Michele Soavi passes out golden tickets to Wonk--Metropol theater. A greasy neanderthal scrapes blow from a baby-faced punk bitch's nipple. A black pimp takes control before being hanged with evil green shit dripping into his horrified mouth. A demon's hand is blown off as it grabs a gun and you know it don't matter since mankind just got itself proper fucked. Also check out the blonde in the jeep at the very end for one of the worst performances ever accomplished with so little in record time. As if we needed any more confirmation, Demons proved the Italians could stand toe-to-toe, still deliver rowdy crowdpleasers in their death throws, and exceed beyond the usual perception of merely aping popular American horror box office trends.

How could any self-respecting Horror not love this? It's like a fever dream after watching vintage Fulci sick in bed with mono, except real and readily available on video. Speaking of video, this New World Pictures VHS features a different sound mix than the well-known Anchor Bay releases. There's some new/different sound effects and different dubbing on the blonde punk girl as well as the crotchety white-haired old man. Nothing really worth a recommendation over the AB releases, but fans might wish to take note. I'm unsure about the Japanese Laserdisc also pictured above as I'm never opening it.

Film: 9/10
VHS Picture: 6/10
VHS Sound: 7/10

2 comments:

venoms5 said...

I kinda preferred the New World sound mix over the Italian one. I thought the way they cut the Pretty Maids song, 'Night Danger' was done better on the New World version for example. I guess it's because I had seen it so many times prior to picking up the AB disc. I rented that tape so many times. I remember the first time I saw it, I watched it along with the killer elevator movie, THE LIFT.

Carl (ILHM) said...

That VHS cover scarred me for life, I would run past it when I was a kid in the rental store

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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