Demons (1985, Soavi).

2017 October Horror Challenge X – Demons

Anyone who talks to me for about two minutes knows about my irrational love for Italian horror movies from the 70s and 80s, and Lamberto Bava’s Demons is no exception.

How to watch it:
Shudder
Amazon
Blu-ray
DVD

Demons is an especially fun one with a great soundtrack1 and a perfect cast of hapless victims. It also gets pretty meta about what we want from horror movies even if it doesn’t reach the deconstructive heights of what Michele Soavi would accomplish with a similar premise in his sort-of-sequel, The Church.2 But all of that aside, the real reason this movie is awesome is because it’s one of those peak 80s films in both look and sound. It’s horror movie comfort food.

Geretta Geretta (credited as Geretta Giancarlo)’s Rosemary is the coolest person in the movie both as a human and a demon. The film takes such a dip once she stops showing up that Bava had to add a scene where someone speeds through a movie theater on a motorcycle while swinging a katana at zombies as Accept’s Fast as a Shark plays to make up for her absence.

But it also has something else going on, it’s a movie that relishes transforming and destroying its female characters. Bava sets up the movie like a giallo, but once all of its characters arrive at the theater and the screening (and killings) begin it quickly devolves into a story with no mystery to solve. There’s no endgame of figuring out how to stop the demons once things start going crazy, instead characters are just trying to weather the storm. But we get some fun developments that again play with how fans would expect a movie like this to go. Demons toys with the viewer right into the closing credits! Unfortunately it crosses that line where it’s trying to say something about the stereotypical bad treatment female characters often get in this type of horror movies upon stepping out o line in any way, but it ends up (especially with its ending) saying that that treatment is totally cool and entertaining.

Fun gore and creature effects happen throughout the movie.

It’s not Manhattan Ripper, but it’s an aspect of the movie that’s hard to miss. Fortunately everything else about Demons is just as loud and much less predictable, making it enjoyable from start to finish.

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  1. One which modern subtitle tracks describe as “goth-techno music” but, uh…
  2. Yup, this is another Italian horror series where it fractured apart almost as soon as the first movie came out. There’s Demons and Demons II, that’s simple enough. But then we get a completely unrelated (and not very good) made for TV movie called The Ogre: Demons 3, which in more recent home releases is given the title Demons III: The Ogre to tie it even more to the first two. Meanwhile the movie that began life as a third film in the series went in a way different direction and was released under the title The Church, except in some very rare instances where it was released on VHS as Demons 3The Church is an excellent movie, a personal favorite of mine, and it’s been semi-forgotten until it popped up on Amazon and Shudder about a year ago.
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Chris Rasa
Chris’ only known functions are learning about video games, watching movies, and writing about both. Much of his published work can be found on Hardcore Gaming 101, where he has worked as a contributing editor since 2004 and, more recently contributed to HG101’s ever growing selection of books.