Demons unfolds at a movie theater that is screening a sneak preview of a horror film. As the events of the film occur onscreen, similar happenings are carried out in the audience. The theater patrons start to turn in to demonic, zombie-like creatures. Each possessed guest begins to spread the epidemic to other patrons. Those unaffected by the rapidly growing evil become the minority and must search for a means of escape, as they are trapped inside the theater.
Demons is co-written and directed by Lamberto Bava. Italian horror legend Dario Argento co-authored the script with Bava and worked as a producer on the film. Bava struck gold with Demons. It is a claustrophobic nightmare that features an incoherent but ultimately brilliant storyline. Bava creates heavy atmosphere and makes the viewer feel the intensity that the characters are experiencing onscreen.
This picture benefits from a great rock soundtrack that features Motley Crue, The Scorpions, Billy Idol, and more. Like Argento’s early work, Demons pairs rock music with scenes of extreme violence and the end result is a high level of tension. The music brilliantly accents some of the film’s more harrowing sequences and amplifies the flick’s already unsettling atmosphere.
In addition to a terrific soundtrack, this feature is swiftly paced. It begins building a sense of unease and tense atmosphere from the very first frame. The film’s leads are in constant peril and Bava takes the viewer along for the ride.
Demons is also similar to Argento’s early work in the sense that it is often incoherent and rarely ever makes complete sense. The film wastes precious little time explaining itself and jumps immediately into the action. There is almost no expository dialogue and even after repeat viewings, I would be hard pressed to tell you much about what triggers the series of events that prompt the demonic outbreak inside the theater.
The characters are a large part of what makes this film so special. Bobby Rhodes (Demons 2) turns in a particularly memorable performance as Tony the Pimp. He struts into the theater with his ‘girls’ and never loses his swagger, even amidst the demonic outbreak that occurs after the film begins. Geretta Geretta is also quite good as one of Tony’s ‘girls’. She has no trouble emoting under a mountain of prosthetics and makeup.
The effects in Demons are terrific. Since the film was released in 1985, all of the death scenes are accomplished with the use of practical makeup and they are very well done. There is a great deal of onscreen carnage and each kill sequence offers something unique. There is an especially memorable scene with a character riding a motorcycle around the theater and decapitating possessed theater patrons with a sword.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out Demons, it is a terrific film and also a good introduction to Italian horror for anyone not familiar with it. While the film is a little out there, it is more reserved than some of the more eccentric offerings from the prominent Italian filmmakers of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
If you don’t already own this classic horror picture, I would suggest getting ahold of a copy as soon as possible.
Director(s): Lamberto Bava
Writer(s): Lamberto Bava, Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti
Stars: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Geretta Geretta, Bobby Rhodes
Studio/ Production Co: DACFILM Rome
Budget: $1.8 Million
Language: English, Italian
Length: 88 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Demonic Outbreak, Italian Horror