4K Ultra HD Review: Demons + Demons 2 (2-Disc Limited Edition)
Somethin’ monstrous is going down at the Metropol, a renovated theater holding a screening of a fright film involving a curse and the body of Nostradamus, and Cheryl (Natasha Hovey) and Kathy (Paola Cozzo) get caught up in the mask-based mayhem right quick!
See the picture in question features a mask, a mask worn by a mysterious man (Michele Soavi, who directed 1989’s The Church, which was intended to be Demons 3) handing out tickets to the film in the “real world”, and the very same mask that scratches the hand of local prostitute Rosemary (Rats: Night of Terror‘s Geretta Geretta) delivering some sort of bizarre infection that turns her into a pus-spewing, sharp-toothed demon… and she wastes no time infecting others!
Soon Cheryl and company are up to their popcorn in murderous monsters, and the infection may soon spread to the city beyond!
Directed and co-written by Lamberto Bava (along with co-writers Dario Argento (who also produced), Dardano Sacchetti, and Franco Ferrini), 1985’s Demons is a fast-paced, Night of the Living Dead riff with demons standing in for zombies and a theater setting instead of a farmhouse… it’s also fun as fuck and packed to the revoltin’ rafters with top-notch gore and monster effects (including an unforgettable birthing sequence)!
It gets even better when such lunacy is set to the throbbin’ synths of Claudio Simonetti… but this being a flick produced by Argento in the mid-’80s you can bet your arcane ass that the soundtrack features some rock bangers (which I personally love, but your mileage may vary… ), and boy does it ever with Motley Crue, Billy Idol, Saxon, and (arguably) most memorably Accept, who’s song “Fast As a Shark” features in a scene involving a motorcycle, a katana, and massive amounts of carnage!
And that last sentence sums up this picture to a terrifying “T”, Demons is absolute cinematic insanity from start to finish, and while that is more than enough to recommend it to you lascivious lot, those devious devils over at Synapse have loaded this 4K release with many a special feature to ignite your unholy passions!
Kicking things off we get a new audio commentary by critics Kat Ellinger and Heather Drain that examines the film from a scholarly perspective in a lively manner that keeps the listener well-engaged, as well as an archival commentary featuring Bava, effects artist Sergio Stivaletti, Simonetti, and Geretta that details the film’s production by those that were there!
Following that comes a new visual essay by author and critic Michael Mackenzie exploring Argento’s career as a producer, interviews with Argento, Simonetti, and long-time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi (director of one of my fav pics of all time, 1978’s Starcrash) discussing the famed director, more chats with Bava, Argento, and Cozzi focusing on the film’s genesis and production, a critical analysis of the picture from author Alan Jones, an interview with stunt performer Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, a Q&A session with Stivaletti, the film’s original Italian and English international theatrical trailers, and the U.S. theatrical trailer.
Moving on to disc 2 we have 1986’s Demons 2!
Seems like lil’ old everybody living in a high-rise apartment building are all checking out the sequel to the film within a film seen in the original flick.
Unlike the first Demons, I’m sure these folks will not be turning into blood lusting murder machines, because if they did it would truly fuck up the birthday bash being thrown for obnoxious and possibly psychotic drama queen Sally (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni) by her hip-as-fuck pals, lil’ Ingrid Haller’s (an impossibly young Asia Argento) dinner, some test prep, pregnancy yoga, and muscle-bound mustache man Hank’s (a returning Bobby Rhodes, albeit as a different character) hobby of yelling at people in his gym to work harder even though they all look more physically fit than (the admittedly in top form) instructor.
So, the kids dance to the mopey crooning of Morrissey (the music in this film is a large step down from the scorchin’ rockers of the first picture, save for one exception) while Sad Sally watches the aforementioned flick until a demon arrives in her bedroom via the TV screen and fucks her shit up turning her into a monster that immediately rips the preppy partygoers to putrid pieces and then gnashes her teeth around her pad as she drips her steaming blood on her friends turning them into demons while Rain by The Cult (there’s that exception, and they knew it too as the song also plays over the end credits) plays. It’s fucking brilliant… and yes, consider those aforementioned activities well and truly fucked… minus Hank yelling at the gym rats; he does that even after the shit hits the fan…
As Sally’s acidic blood burns through floor after floor, more and more monsters are made, and there is a rather large chance that no one is going to get their security deposit back after this, but that’s okay; they probably won’t be alive to spend it…
Is Demons 2 as good as Demons? Fuck yeah it is!
Minus my soundtrack bitch, this movie is a freaking monsterpiece packed to the absolute limit with paper thin characterization and absolutely off-the-rails practical make-ups and gore… and that is a combo I can get behind nearly every fuckin’ time!
Effects highlights this go around (created in part by a returning Sergio Stivaletti) include a dog-to-demon transformation reminiscent of Rob Bottin’s work in 1982’s John Carpenter remake of The Thing, the previously mentioned multiple participant party-based transformation sequence, a child-turned-demon ripping himself open to reveal an absolutely bananas razor-toothed shrieking imp that then goes on a rampage (seriously, this may be the most absolutely fucking crazed puppet I’ve ever seen)… there’s plenty more, and all of it is a gore-hound’s demonic delight!
Also notable are the large amount of stunt work on display (though no set-piece present here tops the motorcycle sequence of the previous installment), and the driving synth-rock score from composer Simon Boswell (who previously worked on returning producer/co-writer Dario Argento’s Phenomena in 1985).
While we are on such a positivity kick, special features on this disc include: an informative audio commentary from journalist/film critic Travis Crawford that takes us through the film’s production and history, a fascinating visual essay on the use of space and technology in both films by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, archival interviews with Stivaletti, long-time Argento collaborator/Starcrash director Luigi Cozzi, filmmaker Federico Zampaglione (discussing the films’ influence on his own work), Roy Bava (Lamberto’s son who worked on both pictures), Stivaletti again (this time focusing on his relationship with Soavi), Lamberto Bava himself, and Boswell, and the film’s Italian and English theatrical trailers.
At the end of the day, Demons and Demons 2 are fright flicks made for fans, by fans (who just so happen to be professional filmmakers); all the right notes are hit, and hit hard, and the end result is every gorehound’s wet dream!