Demons (1985) Review: Gore & Not Much Else
“They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs.”
Synopsis: A group of random people are invited to a screening of a mysterious movie, only to find themselves trapped in the theater with ravenous demons.
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Though producer/writer Dario Argento‘s influence can be clearly felt in Demons, this Lamberto Bava flick is basically a banal and gory answer to the campy American bloodbaths of the time. Demons is painfully simple: a group of people are invited to a mysterious screening at a mostly-abandoned theater, and end up locked in with bloodthirsty, zombie-like demons. There’s really not much more to it than that – in fact, there’s so little explanation or characterization that it’s hard to say Demons has a plot at all.
As for the gore – well, Demons definitely delivers there. It’s all fairly over-the-top and gross, despite not being very realistic. It’s very reminiscent of the effects in The Evil Dead (1981) – disgusting, but just fake enough to possibly avoid some censorship issues.
The practical effects and lighting were by far my favorite parts of the movie. Both were interesting and well done, so that’s no surprise… especially considering how shaky the other movie elements truly are. The script is never clever or funny – the meta-ness and parallels are painfully obvious – there is no new ground broken, here. The writing also takes on awkward new levels of trying too hard – towards the end, the movie features both a helicopter and a scene where the lead male rides through a theater on a motorcycle killing demons with a samurai sword. In a Bruce Campbell movie, I’d probably find those things fantastic. But in Demons, they are more cringe- than praise-worthy. Even an occasionally fun soundtrack can’t bring those moments into the casual irreverence they require to be truly enjoyable.
Demons is a decent background movie. You’ll occasionally pause in conversation to laugh at the scene, marvel at the effects, or enjoy a pun (coke in Coke can, anyone?). But you’ll probably want friends standing by to keep you company when the movie falters or gets slow. It’s an interesting footnote in Argento’s cinematic history, but not worthy of top billing.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: C
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