Saturday, February 20

At the Edge of the Abyss: Demons 6: De Profundis (1989)

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A director (Urbano Barberini) and his actress wife (Florence Guérin) are intent on continuing the film legacy of Dario Argento's Three Mothers Trilogy by preemptively making the third sequel based on the Mother of Tears. The actress is disquieted by the proposal of playing the role of the Levana witch and soon begins having intense hallucinations. As the ball on the production starts rolling faster, the actress's baby comes into danger, as a hard-nosed producer (Brett Halsey) signs on and another actress (Caroline Munro) shows nefarious interest in taking the role. Then we have something about the moon or some paper mache planet coming within two feet of Earth and a fetus in utero in hackneyed allusions to Kubrick's 2001.

As this entry's title says, this is one of the end times flicks for genre product from Italy for most of the lesser talents. Much like the waxing days of '80s metal, the first few years of the '90s was the cut off point for the old guard to sadly hang it up. Luigi Cozzi's Demons 6: De Profundis (Ill gato nero / Demons 6: Armageddon) is one of the less embarrassing of these bottom of the barrel death knells from the once great boot country horror gristmill.

Playing on a bit of fan service, this sequel in name only has the nice feeling of being one strictly for followers of the subgenre. Cozzi doesn't rip off Argento's Suspiria or Inferno, but instead uses the potential for a third feature (finally poorly realized by Argento in 2007) as a springboard to spice up this cheap, simplistic quickie. Even going as far as to have bit of Goblin's Suspiria theme sound every time Dario's film is referred to. Edgar Allen Poe's The Black Cat is also evoked in the story, but all that amounts to is a black cat lingering about with no point.

The cast is slumming it with performances that barely pass serviceable. French actress Florence Guérin is really just vaguely Winona Ryder-esqe cardboard as the lead. Urbano Barberini should be recognizable from his turn as the blond hero George in Bava's original Demons. Brett Halsey was thoroughly in the process of having his will broken by Fulci and Mattei in films like Touch of Death, Demonia, and Cop Game. Caroline Munro basically mugs her way through while displaying her well sun-baked crow's feet and busty figure. The real star is director Cozzi, who gets surprisingly good coverage and keeps that late era Italian horror vibe alive, despite having a budget equal to a three foot by three foot square of a Hollywood craft service table.

The problem is Cozzi's many varying angles reveal one of Demon 6's biggest flaws. The shot-to-shot editing is so sloppy; it wouldn't be surprising to learn the film was cut on rusty, broken equipment by vagrants in a damp alley behind Cinecittà. Every splice, which happens often, is accompanied by an explosion of obvious print damage, bad tears, and sprocket jittering. It's the "dirtiest" looking Italian horror film I've ever seen and if this reflects the condition of the negative; an extensive restoration would have to be done to fix every instance. Like that will ever happen...

The splatter will leave you wanting; despite a showstopping body explosion, a gut spewin' TV (how original!), and close-up throat slash. And yea, the supposedly doom-bringing Mother of Tears does look like a meatball rolled in shit wearing a Party City witch gown. The inevitable good vs. evil showdown is unfortunately more of a goofy laserlight show than a crimson cage match. The soundtrack tries to conjure memories of Bava's first two Demons entries with some generic hair metal. One of the Levana attacks even blatantly rips off Golden Earring's Radar Love and another track over Munro bathing mimics Guns and Roses's Patience complete with a little faux Axl whining.

If you have more than a passing interest in Italian horror, give Demons 6: De Profundis a whirl if presented with the chance. It's not essential, but it's always cool to track another one of these bloody Italian candy bars down no matter how stale. Midnight Video's DVD-R is solid being sourced from a full frame Japanese VHS. The composition never seems cramped, so 1.33:1 is probably correct. The audio is in clear English, and one wonders why Part 5 never got a dub. The Japanese Demons 5: The Devil's Veil VHS is Italian-only. Trailers for Sergio Stivaletti's The Wask Mask and Argento's Trauma are included.
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4 comments:

Sarah from Scare Sarah said...

Great post! Thanks for the entertaining update!

Tower Farm said...

Wow...there's a "Demons" beyond part 2? Who knew?

But...

"the supposedly doom-bringing Mother of Tears does look like a meatball rolled in shit wearing a Party City witch gown"

...this description is really making me want to see this! Love it!
-Billy

Carl (ILHM) said...

This one was better than I ever would have imagined a DEMONS 6 could have been, was wondering if you would ever get to this one Jay!

Anonymous said...

Where on Earth can I find this movie?! I'm having no luck at all and I'm dying to see it!

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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