In 1985, Dario Argento and Mario Bava released green-pus filled Italian horror extravaganza called Demons. To Dario Argent and Lamberto Bava, Demons adds up to a bit of an inside joke. Completely devoid of a proper plot and devoid of any semblance of sanity, they designed Demons to assault the senses, not stimulate the mind. Demons 2 followed up just a year later to provide another heaping helping of demonic mayhem.
Demons 2 – Totally different and almost exactly the same
Much like the original, Demon 2 relies on video as the catalyst of the demon infestation. In Demons, a strange man in a metal mask lured unsuspecting people to a movie theater. In the sequel, the action takes place in a high-rise apartment. Instead of the big screen, the demonic plot begins with on a television screen. Inexplicably, a strange broadcast begins simultaneously on every television screen in the apartment building. Recycling the same trope, Lamberto Bava makes no apology for shamelessly forsaking a serviceable plot.
Once again, a strange tale of adventurers on a nighttime mission to pillage abandoned ruins of demon artifacts in abandoned strobes in the blue light of the television screen. Last time, the adventurers trigged the demonic infection by scraping themselves on a metal mask. This time a woman cuts her hand and unwittingly drips blood in the mouth of a demon corpse and the blood provides life to the satanic ghoul.
The demon quickly dispatches tomb raiders. It shifts its attention to the screen, staring into the eyes of a woman riveted to her seat. In a simple, yet awesome special effect technique, the demon pushes itself through the television screen and into the apartment of the woman. Her name is Sally, and it’s her birthday. As a gift she receives the throb demon veins and spewing bile. Interestingly, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni plays the role of Sally. She would later take a role as the seamstress in Dario Argento’s Opera the following year. It’s Sally’s party and she will slash if she wants to, so she attacks her guests. She infects almost all of them, kick starting the demonic rampage.
Quality is Better than Quantity
While Demons 2 recycles much of the formula, the question remains, “How well did emulate its predecessor?”. Demons 2 emulates many features of the original, sometime in more quantity, often with less quality. As for the good, Sally makes an incredible demon. Her make-up and performance is some of the best of the series. Somehow, Coralina Cataldi Tassoni is able to cross the chasm between being a horrible death machine and a wretched and afflicted birthday girl that deserves sympathy.
Apart from Sally, overall the special effects take a step back. Many are still horrible in a good way, but in many cases were not executed with care and precision. For example, many scenes reveal the pale flesh of the actors beneath the collar of the shirt. In other cases, the make-up stops just above the sleeve line, again offering pale human flesh as the demon scrambles about. In some close-ups the audience clearly sees that some of the demons make-up amounts to no more than a bit of grease paint. Certainly, these amount to cost saving measures, but in truth, the film could have avoided these lazy sacrifices.
Is Crazy Better than Quality?
In many cases, Lamberto Bava manages to up the crazy dial for this film. In one instance he introduces a demonic puppy. While the puppies transformation is admirable, the final product feels a bit silly. Also, Lamberto Bava introduces a possessed child and subsequently recycles the old back-burster gimmick. This time a beast bursts from the chest of the child ghoul. Calling back to the original back-burster scene, Sergio Stivaletti crafted a beautifully-horrible full-size demon to claw its way from the back of the victim. The effect was iconic and stunning. This time, what burst forth from the chest of the child looks more like a lame rubber monkey with alligator teeth.
The only thing more brutal than the demons is the acting…
Apart from the great performance by Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, the acting feels stiff and the dialog contrived. It’s hard to say if it if any better or worse that that of Demons which ranks very poorly in its own right. Lamberto Bava does bring back Bobby Rhodes to play a new character. In the original, Bobby Rhodes played Tony the Pimp. If you saw it, you’ll know why that’s a thing. In this film he plays Hank, the resident meathead that runs the gym. Hank comically leads a troop of fellow meatheads against the demonic alliance.
Finally, the Demons 2 soundtrack maintains that Italian horror feeling indicative of the genre. The soundtrack brings back a healthy mix of euro-synthpop and period correct rock music. Notably, The Cult’s “Rain” makes an appearance as well as offerings from the The Smiths and Love and Rockets.
Out with a Whimper
Demons (1985) closed with a totally ambitious ending. Upon their escape from the theater, the demonic plague had already escaped the confines and the outside world burned. Demons were everywhere, and the only chance of survival was to flee. In addition, they added a predictable but fun little twist before rolling the credits. Compared to that epic ending, Demons II goes out with a whimper. The final two survivors escape the confines of the apartment building and walk off into the future as the credits roll. Boo.
Demons 2 – The Wrap
Prior to watching this film again, Demons 2 had mentally secured higher ground than the original. For some reason, its excess stuck with me over the years. In retrospect, Demons (1985) clearly tops its sequel. This is easy to overstate. In fact, this review has been pretty hard on Demons 2. Nobody that attended this film expected an Academy Award experience. Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento set out to create an fantastic demonic gore-fest and largely succeeded in that endeavor.
Demons 2 packages everything that a fan of Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento would love. It spills plenty of gore and provides plenty of action. Anyone that loves stereotypical Italian horror films will likely appreciate this movie. At times, it feels a bit like eating left-overs, but at the end of the day Demons 2 will cater to the the sensibilities of hardcore horror fans.
Demons 2 (1986) - More Demonic Pus Squirting Fun - Malevolent Dark
Director: Lamberto Bava
Date Created: 1986-01-01 00:00