Coming at you like a boat propeller churning through scared fish, Demons is a hardcore, heavy metal discotheque bloodbath. Like many Italian horror flicks, what it lacks in story and logic, it more than makes up for with gut splattered style and some exciting visuals. Add in a pounding, electronic score by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti and you have the ingredients for a fun horror romp that is as agreeable as tasty pizza and cold beers.
Directed by horror legend Mario Bava’s son Lamberto, Demons tells the story of a group of people trapped inside a haunted West Berlin movie theater. Besides popcorn and soda, the lucky film fans enjoy the pleasure of being pursued by hungry devil creatures that are hellbent on world domination. These horned, fanged fiends were once humans that have been transformed by an evil curse that Nostradamus spoke of in one of his prophecies. Did this guy, Nostradamus, ever predict anything good? He seems like that annoying co-worker who thinks each new hire is some job stealing phantom trying to take food off their table. Nostradamus, like the killjoy you try to avoid at the office coffee machine, was apparently a glass half empty kind of prophet.
The movie starts with timid, young Cheryl as she rides the U-bahn, sharing the train with pink-haired punks and various other species of Eurotrash. Cheryl is played by stunner Natasha Hovey. She is a lightning strike mixture of girl next door coyness and sophisticated supermodel looks. Her pristine DNA formed perfect bone structure and pouty lips that seem to say fuck me behind the bookcases at the bibliotek. That last word is in German. Her hotness, however, translates into any language.
At the train station, Cheryl is casually stalked and startled by a silent weirdo who hands her an ornate ticket for the Metropol theater. This cat looks like a reject from the casting call of Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn. The dude’s face has the consistency of boiled pork. Luckily for him, half of it is covered by a metal mask. Cheryl is carrying schoolbooks, so we would assume she is intelligent enough to be attending University. Book smarts, however, don’t always translate to street smarts. Common sense should maybe tell the beautiful but naive Cheryl to simply walk away and the toss the golden ticket into the trash. Willy Wonka had his creepy moments, but this guy is 80’s cinema post-apocalyptic disturbing.
Youthful recklessness prevails and Cheryl grabs a second ticket for her beautiful friend, Kathy(Paola Cozzo). I swear every broad in this movie is good looking. Even the ladies getting up there in years could be fodder for your sexual fantasies. They must have kept all the ugly women behind the wall in dreary East Berlin. I don’t believe communism was ever known for its tasty cuisine or attractive women. That alone should be enough for you to support capitalism.
Cheryl, obviously yearning for some sort of adventure, convinces Kathy to skip class and take in the premier at the Metropol. Kathy is hesitant at first, but quickly relents as Lamberto Bava realizes that the horror train is stuck at the station and the wheels of gore gotta start turning. You can almost see four pages of unnecessary character development blow down the street in the West Berlin twilight. As they make their way to the Metropol, Kathy hopes out loud that it isn’t a horror movie.
She doesn’t like horror movies.
I am dismayed at Kathy’s disdain for horror flicks. You need to subtract that from her good looks when calculating her hotness quotient. There is a definite scientific formula for this, but I don’t have any chalk or a huge blackboard to jot down the complex mathematical minutiae. I am fairly certain that the “hotness quotient” is Einstein’s second most well known theory. One could argue, however, that it is his most important.
The two lovely young ladies reach the Metropol theater. To no one’s surprise, the theater looks like a cathedral designed by the architecture firm of Beezlebub, Lucifer and Satanico. You can’t really fault them for going in. Demonic looking churches were big in the eighties for nightclubs. Are you too young to remember the Limelight in New York City? Shit went down inside that place that was probably just as freaky as the horrific goings on in this film. Some of the denizens of that metropolitan disco dungeon looked as if they rose from the grave in the imaginations of some of our favorite horrormeisters.
Next, we get to meet some of the other characters in the film who may or may not become a hot lunch for the ravenous, titular creatures. Aren’t we hoping for gruesome deaths? Why else would we be watching it? This isn’t an allegory for the Cold War. We’re waiting for the younger Bava to sharpen the knives, open up the mouth of hell and watch the blood flow like a wound on a gutted pig. Gordon Ramsay does not appear in this flick, however.
There is an older couple celebrating, or perhaps lamenting, their anniversary. The husband seems to be a royal douche. He is one of those obnoxious guys that curses out kids, fist waving in the air like a leftist tyrant, if their wiffle ball lands on his perfectly trimmed lawn. The wife probably just puts up with his garbage because he is a good provider and she figures that she will be dead in twenty or thirty years anyway. This woman is probably just hoping he dies first, so she can have a few peaceful years and pay for handsome young gigolos to service her as she stares at the husband’s funeral urn on the mantle over the fireplace.
Next, we meet Tony, played by Bobby Rhodes. He is a badass black dude with the coolest looking threads in the flick. Tony has the beautiful bald head and killer facial hair that broadcasts he is not a man to be fucked with, unless you are a sizzling hot high priced hooker or other such glamorous gutter gal. Tony punctuates many sentences with the word “baby” and he lays that down for the two slightly slutty looking hotties hanging from each arm.
Moving on, we are introduced to George(Urbano Barberini) and Ken(Karl Zinny). The two dudes spot Kathy and Cheryl getting ripped off by a soda machine. George looks like a star football player. Not the kind of football that has a quarterback, but the other kind that most people in America don’t give a shit about. Ken appears to be a brainy preppie. With his unwrinkled polo shirt, sweater draped over his shoulder like a feminine lover, the brittle Ken would probably get his ass kicked by Ralph Macchio, even before the Karate Kid trained with Mr. Miyagi.
Wax this off, Ken.
Using some cool guy magic, George makes the machine cough up a soda for the two girls, making them mildly happy and paving the way for acne and tooth decay in their immediate future. The four of them take their seats among the other patrons who are waiting to be slaughtered in all sorts of gruesome and ridiculous ways. There is a young woman escorting(not that kind) an older, blind gentleman to the flick. If you were in the theater with them, you might hope she got offed quickly and quietly. Do you want to listen to this woman explain everything that is going down on screen to the sightless man? You’re blind, bro. No offense, stay home and listen to some classical music or read a porno magazine in braille. Your ears and fingers work. It’s just your eyes that are malfunctioning. This isn’t a baseball game. The other theater goers don’t need to hear a play by play of the movie. You want the score? Demons are up by ten in the bottom of the ninth.
And they got Mephistopheles Rivera strolling out of the bullpen to close it out.
Before they take their seats, Tony and his two pieces of eye candy stand around looking at displays in the lobby. One prop has a mannequin looking like a knight sitting on an fancy European motorcycle. It is holding a samurai sword and a creepy mask that looks like something you might see on a medieval costume or kinky businessman after hours at the office. If we are a betting audience, we should lay some money down that these objects will come into play later on. Giggling, one of the broads tries on the mask and is cut by it, thereby starting the apocalypse. Chicks, man.
Did you know that demons are the instruments of evil?
If you were unsure, not to worry. After watching this film you will know this is a truthful statement. Like some spoiled brat announcing that it is their birthday, the movie repeats this ad nauseam. I used a Latin term to make myself appear intelligent. I hope it is working. And that I spelled it correctly.
Pretty soon all hell breaks loose. Literally. And the fun begins.
Bava treats us to some gnarly Demons doing nasty things to the characters. There is a lot of cool makeup effects that manage to make us giggle and, if certain slimy things gross you out, turn our stomachs at the same time. I guess it is like watching Patton Oswalt stand-up, in that respect? Demons treats us to a ton of vomited green frothy stuff, nails turning into claws and teeth painfully falling out of people’s mouths and get replaced by fangs. Please remember to floss and if you get some sort of fungal infection, take care of it, for Pete’s sake.
Bad hygiene is real world horror.
Demons doesn’t reach the heights of classic Italian Horror like Argento’s Suspiria. This film doesn’t have the level of stylistic wizardry and perverse mean streak that Argento’s best have. It should be noted that Dario Argento was the producer and one of the screenwriters of the film. In the end, Demons is a rollicking good time that delivers the goods. Boredom doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell while watching it.
Great write up. I’m very picky about European horror, but the supernatural ones, especially, have a tone you just don’t get in similar US productions. Maybe it’s the double remove of being other worldly and from another part of the world. I prefer DEMONS to SUSPIRIA for this reason, though SUSPIRIA is the superior film, stylistically. If that makes sense. 😛
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Thank you!! Agreed. I am not a huge fan of the Italian horror flicks. Demons was great fun and Suspiria is very good, especially amazing looking. Fulci? Not buying it. The elder Bava has some good ones.
I think Fulci’s trilogy is insane. Makes no sense, and that’s what I like about it. I like early Bava, esp. Black Sunday and Black Sabbath, but I think my favorite of his is Planet of the Vampires.
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