Thursday, June 9, 2011
Lamberto Bava (1985)
Starring: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinney, Fiore Argento, Bobby Rhodes
I grew up watching this on a beautiful Anchor Bay VHS tape (the one in the shell box, which I still own), I've seen it many times in the theatre and I just watched it again last night as a double feature with Soavi's Stagefright. It's hard not to love Demoni and it certainly stands the test of time.
The way I see it, it was almost impossible for this film not to succeed. It was directed by Lamberto Bava, son of the greatest horror director in history, Mario Bava. It was produced by Dario Argento and co-written by Lamberto Bava, Argento, Dardano Sachetti, the greatest Italian horror screenwriter in history, and Franco Ferrini (one of Argento's regular screenwriters). Michele Soavi, a great Italian horror director of the late '80s and early '90s, has a bit part acting and is the assistant director. There's a rockin' '80s soundtrack featuring Claudio Simonetti, Motley Crue, Billy Idol, Saxon and more. The absolutely disgusting effects are by the great Sergio Stivaletti.
A strange man in a metal mask hands out free tickets to people for the opening of a new theatre. A girl tries on a promotional mask and accidentally get a small abrasion on her face. Two girls cutting class, Cheryl and Hannah (Fiore Argento, Dario's daughter and occasional actress), sit with two random guys, George (Urbano Barberini from Argento's Opera) and Ken. The movie turns out to be a horror film about a group of teens (Michele Soavi among them) who discover Nostradamus's grave and accidentally unleash a plague of demonic terror on the world. In the theater, the girl with the scratched face begins bleeding and turns, to no one's great surprise, into a demon. She makes quick work of the theater patrons, who band together and try to escape from the growing number of demons. When it becomes clear that they can't get out, they try to barricade themselves on the second floor to fend off the demons.
Demons is surprisingly gory, but also surprisingly funny, thanks to the fantastic Bobby Rhodes, who has some of the best dialogue. "What the hell happened to Rosemary?!" "SMASH EVERYTHING, SMASH EVERYTHING!" It is, however, ridiculous. Suspend all disbelief, particularly during the part where they realize they are somehow walled into the theatre or when you have to watch the coke-snorting punks in the stolen car.
Overall this movie is fun, violent, and totally metal. It also goes out with a bang, constantly escalating the level of craziness. I mean, how can you go wrong with a motorcycle and a samurai sword? If you like horror and you haven't seen Demons, you owe it to yourself. It is also Lamberto Bava's best film and certainly the best place to start with '80s European horror.
The region 1 Anchor Bay is cheap and uncut. Seeing it in a theatre at 5 a.m. is really the best way, but if you can't do that, just make sure the volume is turned up really loud.