Sunday, June 13, 2010

Demons Four: Demons

I'll be up-front with you- I love Demons.  I suppose you can stop reading right there, but I do have more to say.  As the film that introduced me to Lamberto Bava- like most people, I'm sure- it holds a special place in my heart.  At one point, I had a sidebar called 'Movies Too Good To Review Here' and included the first two movies on it, alongside The Prestige and others.  After some initial set-up confusion, the plot is pretty simple and flows very nicely.  There is an odd distraction with the biker gang sub-plot, but that connects well enough to let me ignore it.  I do find it funny that Argento's credit on the poster is nearly the size of the title itself, by the way.  As a fan of both Bavas, I love that Argento put his credibility behind Lamberto, as well as helping popularize the genre that Mario started (Giallo/Blood and Black Lace).  I would love it if there was another generation of Bava/Argento interaction to creat films like this.  Is it too much to hope for to see an Asia Argento/Another Bava collaboration at some point?  Maybe, but I like to dream.  Anyways, this film plays with conventions in a great way and boggles my mind, while alternately blowing it too.  This is...
The story begins simple enough with some teens (by horror movie standards, anyways) getting an invite to a super-secret movie premiere.  Much like in Waxwork, they never really question getting something like this from a super-creepy guy.  They go to the premiere and find it packed, making the secretive nature of the guy kind of odd.  This is no ordinary premiere, however, as the lobby is littered with props and promotional materials about the film.  This becomes a key point when one girl touches a prop mask on display and it cuts her finger.  More on that later, however.  We are introduced to a whole slew of characters here, but the most notable is and always will be Tony the Pimp.  He's a guy so good that they had to bring him back in Demons 2!  Our heroes go into the theater and start to watch the movie.  The film in question is a pretty stock horror film involving teens (again, by horror movie standards) wandering into a cemetery.  What stands out, however, is that they uncover Nostradamus' grave.  When they open it, a girl gets her hand cut on the mask inside and turns into a demon.  Hm...
Sure enough, the events in the film begin to mirror those in reality.  The girl from earlier complains about feeing sick and goes to the bathroom.  Inside, she begins to transform via some make-up effects.  The results are not pretty, even if she looks a bit like Sade.  She leaves the restroom and completes her transformation in the theater, leading to one of the film's most famous gore scenes.  In 'real-time,' the woman's teeth are pushed out of her mouth and sharp fangs rise to replace them.  This, naturally, causes a panic and death ensues.  This is where things get really good.
The action is practically non-stop (not to be confused with the Minoriteam character) from hereon out.  As the zombies/demons bite others and turn them, the horde grows in size.  These guys don't play nice either- choosing to take bites out of people.  Things only get worse when our remaining heroes try to get out the front door...only to find it bricked up.  That's not good!  In the aforementioned sub-plot, a group of bikers are driving around and decide to wreak some havoc.  Unfortunately for them, they choose the theater and don't exactly get a warm reception.  Things look bleak for our heroes as more of them die violent deaths- even poor Tony.  In the have to watch the movie.  Seriously, if you're a horror fan, you need to see Demons.  Do it now.
Like I said, I love this movie.  The plot works on a lot of levels and is surprisingly-layered for a film of this type.  The whole idea of the film-within-a-film idea reminds me of 'Halmet's' indictful play-within-a-play against the new King.  How often do you get to make a fair Shakespeare comparison to an '80s Italian horror film?  For a 25-year old film (big anniversary this year!), the make-up work holds up pretty well.  Sure, there are things that we would do better nowadays with technology, but I wouldn't change it.  Aside from my own personal preferrence for practical effects over CGI, there's no downplaying the visceral nature of Demons' make-up work.  When you see it in-frame, it's really in-frame and that adds a lot IMO.  Obviously, there's no way to avoid CGI in certain circumstances (i.e. King Kong), but it's not necessary here.  To be fair, the acting is not exactly Oscar-caliber here.  Is this really news though?  Especially when you consider that many people will be watching the film dubbed- either by choice or because the disc only has that option.  Not to repeat myself, but you really need to see Demons if you haven't already.  Hell, just see it again- it's worth it.
Up next, a look at the sequel that Italy demanded.  Can it top the original or will it just be a nobody?  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Its true, its all true!! Id DEMONS a perfect film? By no means. But it may be one of the most enjoyable and awesome films in the genre. Love this friggin movie!