Demons (1985) – By Duane L. Martin

So Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava made this movie called Demons and released it back in 1985.  Then they released a sequel in 1986 called…wait for it…Demons 2.  Shocking, I know, but here’s the deal.   If you’re a horror fan, you probably at least know about Demons and Demons 2, even if you haven’t seen them.  These films are pretty famous, though I have a feeling it has more to do with the names associated with them than it does with them films themselves.  Let’s go over the premise before we get to the review part, and then I’ll explain that last statement.

A strange man is walking through a subway handing out free passes to a horror movie at the Metropol theater and a whole lot of people show up that evening expecting to be entertained.  However, after a prostitute puts on a demon mask and accidentally scratches her face with it, she turns into a demon and spreads the contagion throughout the theater.  As the body count rises, the survivors desperately try to escape, only to find that they’ve been sealed inside.  Will any of them make it out alive?  You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

Ok, now for the review part…

The reason I said this movie was well known because of the names associated with it is because I can’t imagine that either this film or its sequel would have gone down in the annals of horror history without those names attached.  Why?  Because they’re both pretty crappy films.  They’re not horrible and I’ve certainly seen worse horror films, but neither are they all that noteworthy.

The premise of both films is absolutely ridiculous, the second one even more so, but at least this one was more believable than the second one.  I mean, having a cursed mask that scratches the wearer and turns them into a demon really isn’t all that bad of a premise when you think about it.  The makeup and practical effects weren’t bad either.  The problem with this film doesn’t really have anything to do with the effects or the premise.  It has to do with the unbelievably bad acting, the completely unrealistic dialog and the even more unrealistic way people react to the situation they’re in.  That’s not even mentioning some of the ridiculous things that happen during the film.  Then there’s people who are fine and have never even been infected who suddenly turn into demons randomly.  For what?  Shock value?  Yeah…not all that shocking.

So…Argento and Bava.  Yep, their names are on this film, and like I said, that’s why they’re well known and have achieved some level of cult status.  Personally, I’ve never been a fan of either and I’ve never understood all the praise heaped onto their films.  To me, most Italian horror films come off much like these films did.  Cheap, poorly written and poorly acted.  At least Demon and Demon 2 have two things going for them.  The fun practical effects and Bobby Rhodes, who plays a pimp in the first film and a gym instructor in the second one.  Essentially he takes up the same role in both films, just with different characters.  Oh, and he lasts longer in the second film.  That was one of the things they really flubbed in the first film.  His character should have at least lasted until close to the end.  Oh well.

For special features, this new release from Synapse Films contains a high-def 1080p transfer from original vault materials in 1.66:1 aspect ratio, featuring an all new color correction supervised by Synapse Films.  It also contains both the International English stereo language soundtrack as well as the U.S. mono English alternate dub soundtrack, newly translated optional English subtitles for both language tracks and the film’s theatrical trailer.

I have zero complaints about the quality of this release.  As always, Synapse did a spectacular job of making it look and sound just phenomenal.  That’s the great thing about Synapse.  You may be disappointed with a specific film, but you’ll never be disappointed with the quality of the releases themselves, and this one is no exception.

Is this film horrible?  No, not at all.  The cheesiness of it is actually kind of fun in many ways, and the practical effects add considerably to the entertainment value.  Are they stupid?  Oh god yes.  Not just generally, but in specific ways that detract from what the film could have been.  I sit here thinking what this film could have been if say, for example, Sam Raimi had made it.  It really could have been something spectacular.  As it stands, it’s just a rather generic feeling eighties monster slash horror film that’s fun to watch now and then on a Saturday night.  It’s better than a one time watcher, but it’s not one of my go to films when I’m looking for some fun horror.

If you’d like to find out more about this release, you can check out it’s page on the Synapse Films website here.