Director: Lamberto Bava
Cast: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny
Screenplay: Dardano Sacchetti, Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Franco Ferrini
88 mins. Not Rated.
After yesterday, I think it’s time to return to the world of Dario Argento with a film he helped produce and write: Demons from director Lamberto Bava (Macabre, Delirium).
Student Cheryl (Natasha Hovey) receives free tickets to a screening at the Metropol cinema. She and her friend Kathy arrive to a crowded theater along with many other theatergoers. One of the other women arriving at the cinema scratches her face with a strange and unusual mask in the lobby. As the film begins playing, the woman’s scratch turns her into a horrific and monstrous demon, and she escapes into the theater, murdering others and turning them into demons as well. Cheryl and another man at the theater, George (Urbano Barberini, Casino Royale, Opera), are forced to defend themselves as the oncoming onslaught of creatures threaten to rip them apart and send the Earth into an unholy apocalypse.
This is another foray into Italian horror from the legendary Dario Argento, who put a lot of work into creating Demons. The screenplay, which he contributed to, creates a strange and mysterious mythology which drew me in as I put the pieces together.
I also want to talk about the incredibly fun heavy metal soundtrack with music from Billy Idol, Motley Crue, Rick Springfield, and Saxon. I have no idea how the music worked its way into the movie, but it does create a unique tone for the film that is unexpectedly more fun.
Now, I still don’t like the ADR voice work here. I understand it is the way that Italian horror cinema was back then, but it did pull me out this time, whereas it didn’t completely pull me out of Suspiria. I think that’s the big difference between two film: the directors. Argento’s directing of Suspiria was cold and calculated, and each drop of blood meant something. Bava (who is the son of Mario Bava, director of Twitch of the Death Nerve) doesn’t have the same experience to keep his film higher-brow, and it shows as the movie devolves into an epic splatter-fest.
I also would’ve cut out the punks driving around for half the movie and then joining the carnage. It doesn’t add anything to the movie and just pulls you out. It’s more fun to not know what’s happening in the outside world.
Demons has some great elements, and a lot of it worked for me, but there were definite mistakes made by an inexperienced director. Thankfully, Lamberto Bava was tutored by Argento, which elevates certain elements of the film. I think that Demons is a great starter course for these kinds of film, so check it out if you can find it. I had a lot of fun, and I think that’s what the film wants.
-Kyle A. Goethe