Blu-ray Review: Demons (1985)

Demons BR CoverDistributor: Arrow Video

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: Lamberto Bava

Starring: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Bobby Rhodes, Geretta Geretta, Nicoletta Elmi

Demons is one of those cracking horror movies that crops up once in a while that throws in (or should that be up?) everything that is great about the genre, and a few things that aren’t so great, without any remorse or shame. And why should it? Horror movies are meant to be horrific and Demons is one of the purest examples this without any sort of romantic sub-plots or overly dramatical twists allowing for character development; Demons is total horror from start to finish and it loves it.

The plot goes something like this – a mysterious man in a metal mask is giving out free tickets to a cinema screening of a movie called Demons. As the patrons all gather in the lobby of the cinema, one of the lucky participants – a prostitute named Rosemary (Geretta Geretta) who has gone to the showing with a colleague and her pimp Tony (Bobby Rhodes) – puts on a metal demon mask hanging in the foyer. As she removes it she cuts her cheek. Thinking no more about it, all the patrons settle down to watch the movie which, ironically, is about a group of youngsters searching for evidence of demons, who come across a metal mask (like the one in the foyer) that cuts the skin of whoever wears it and they turn into a demon, a bloodthirsty zombie-like creature who infects everyone it touches. As the events of the movie unfold, Rosemary goes to the bathroom where the cut on her cheek explodes in a shower of blood and pus. Now a demon she runs riot in the cinema, which has suddenly been bricked up and locked so nobody can escape, and begins a rampage of infecting everybody with her demonic poison until only a few survivors remain…

Directed by Lamberto Bava (son of legendary horror filmmaker Mario Bava) and produced and co-written by Dario Argento, this pedigree does lend Demons an edge that a lot of similarly styled movies lacked, although anybody expecting full-on Argento-style flair are in for a disappointment. Clearly aimed at the American teen market, Demons is both brilliantly throwaway and essential viewing at the same time. Any movie that has a character racing through a cinema full of drooling demons on a motorbike, whilst wielding a samurai sword and hacking at anything that moves, all played out over German power metallers Accept’s ‘Fast as a Shark’, will instantly appeal to anybody looking for no-holds-barred gory action. If, however, you question why the motorbike was there, why were the keys in it and the petrol tank full, how were the exits blocked so quickly and wasn’t the survivors’ escape route convenient (unbelievably so), then this may not be quite the movie for you.

As you can probably tell, this is no Oscar winner. It is, however, exceptionally gory, overly violent and breathtakingly pacey, with some scary visuals and an overwhelmingly creepy tone throughout. The soundtrack is suitably thumping (Saxon, Accept, Billy Idol), the practical effects gruesome and the action non-stop. But as if the movie itself wasn’t exciting enough then this Blu-ray package from Arrow Video provides some essential bonus content for fans, particularly the first part of the Demons 3 comic that plays as an official sequel to Demons and Demons 2. It’s an interesting tale and one that would make a great movie if anyone dared to revisit this franchise, but that’s highly unlikely. Until then, though, you can watch this gonzoid ’80s gem – several times actually, as it is endlessly rewatchable – and marvel at the clean-up job that Arrow have done and then trace the link from this cult favourite to more modern infected movies like 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake, because Danny Boyle didn’t do it first.

Demons

Special Features: Four option reversible sleeve with original poster and video artwork with additional fifth artwork panel featuring all-new Jeff Zornow artwork, double-sided fold-out poster, Demons 3 – part one of a two-part collector’s comic presenting an official sequel to the Demons movies, audio recollections of director Lamberto Bava, special make-up creations artist Sergio Stivaletti and journalist Loris Curci, audio recollections of the cast and crew featuring Lamberto Bava, Sergio Stivaletti, Geretta Geretta and Claudio Simonetti, Dario’s Demon Days featurette where producer Dario Argento discusses the inception of Demons, Defining an Era in Music featurette where composer Claudio Simonetti discusses the Demons soundtrack, Luigi Cozzi’s Top Italian Terrors featurette where Cozzi discusses the highpoints of Spaghetti Splatter and collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on Demons by Calum Waddell.

UK Release Date: 21st May 2012

Arrow Video – Website

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One thought on “Blu-ray Review: Demons (1985)

  1. Pingback: Blu-ray Review: Evil Dead (2013) | Ancient Slumber

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