Demons 1 & 2. Film Review

DEMONS 1 & 2

Arrow Films

Starring:Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Bobby Rhodes

Rating: 18

Duration 88 & 91 mins

Reviewed by Guy Adams

I’ve seen Demons more times than I can count and each time my opinion of it is different. I first bought it on VHS in the early nineties, drawn, like so many, by the name of Dario Argento. I had just seen Suspiria and while I wasn’t altogether sure what I felt about it I knew I wanted to see more. I was young then and my tastes were rebelling. I’d love to say I fell in love with Argento immediately but in truth a brain used to Friday The 13th looked at the bright colours and screaming and wondered what the hell had just happened. The older me, the one who fell utterly in love with Argento, would think that again with some of his later work.

But that’s a different discussion.

Demons is the story of a crowd of people trapped in a cinema where the movie bleeds out into the real world. Produced and co-written by Argento but directed by Lamberto Bava, son of ‘the maestro’ Mario Bava. If nothing else we keep brushing next to genius.

Perhaps that’s the root of my problem with Demons: it’s associated with bigger and better. So much so that you can forget it’s nothing more than a silly piece of Pizza Schlock to borrow a phrase from Michele Soavi, assistant director and star of the movie. Soavi would go on to direct Stagefright, The Church, The Sect and Dellamorte Dellamore, all of which are also better than Demons. That association working against us again.

Not that Demons is bad. It is excellent at what it sets out to do, it’s just that we keep fooling ourselves into thinking it might want to do more.

It doesn’t.

Demons wants to give you ninety minutes of gore, grue and a soundtrack that punches you in the face. It’s a beer movie. A film where horror fans gather to share knowing winks and indulge in the simpler, baser fun that the genre can offer. It does that perfectly effectively. Now it’s on Blu-ray it does it with extra clarity and if, like me, you have a projector it does it on a size and scale that will make you feel coated in green muck by the time Claudio Simonetti comes to beat you up with his synthesizer during the end titles.

Then, a few years later, it would do it all again. Demons 2 is set in an apartment block, with a TV broadcast providing the portal for evil to enter our world (via a direct lift from Cronenberg’s Videodrome). Most folks think it a pale imitation of the first but, with the exception of an extended sequence with a demon baby (Pizza Schlock meets Fraggle Rock) it’s not so bad. People are trapped, gooey things want to tear their faces off and, by the time the movie’s over, they mostly have.

Both movies are fun, relatively stylish, escapist goo-fests. Accept them as such and they will repay you well, just don’t be distracted by the possibility of them aiming for a higher target.

Arrow’s Blu-ray’s look and sound good (bar four brief faults on Demons 2 that exist in the original footage and couldn’t be digitally corrected) and come with an array of special features (though listening to Argento speak is an exercise in patience akin to racing dead flies). At £24.99 for the whole package it’s well worth a space on your shelf.