Demons (1985) Lamberto Bava takes a script from Dario Argento and creates a classic gore fest demon movie that holds up through the years. Made in Germany by Italians with English speaking actors the story revolves around a group of theater goers who get more than they bargained for when they accepted the complimentary tickets. Cheryl (The beautiful Natasha Hovey) is scared at being alone in a train station thinks she is being stalked by a strange man with a metallic mask covering half his face. It is a nice tension building scene early in the film, with hyper intense music by Claudio Simonetti who created the out of this world music for Suspiria, as well as other Argento films, The Card Player and Mother of Tears. This film also features music by a variety of eighties bands and is a real treat. Cheryl panics and runs through the train station with this eighties techno blaring. The masked man follows catching her at the top of the escalator but instead of a quick and sudden death he hands her a ticket to a theater, the Metropol. Relieves she actually tracks the guy back down to get a second ticket so she and her friend Kathy (Paola Cozzo) can go together.
There is no title for the movie but skipping class they decide to go to the film anyway. Skipping class can only mean something bad is going to happen. Isn't this how it is in the movies? Do something bad and look out for the repercussions?
We meet some of the other players in the film, the couple who don't get along too well, the Blind man, Warner (Alex Serra) and his cheating wife Liz (Enrica Maria Scrivano), the Pimp with a plan, Tony (Bobby Rhodes) and his two prostitutes Carmen and Rosemary, the two college guys who will scoop on our girls George and Ken (Karl Zinny), Hannah and Tom the daters and the beautiful but creepy red headed ticket taker Ingrid (Nicoletta Elmi). Throughout the this movie her looks seem to lead that she knows something about what is going to happen but then nothing comes of it. Maybe Argento lost some scenes in the rewriting of the script that took away the bigger story which included this woman in a more sinister role. That is what you would think from he silent stares and suspicious behavior anyway. It is a real flaw with Demons is that there is potential for so much more in the story. Is the film being shown the culprit? When the chaos begins someone says it is the building that is doing it. This too is not explored in any significant way, which is a shame because what is a good movie could have been even better.
One of the prostitutes, I am assuming the profession since it is never stated. Rosemary (Geretta Geretta) is her name and she puts on the creepy demon mask in the lobby when they are coming in and as she removes it it cuts her. This is the closest to cause and effect the film gets. When the film begins in the theater it is a dark horror film. It plays out with a group of young adults finding the tomb of Nostradamus. There they defile the crypt and find a book and a mask that looks just like the one in the Metropol's lobby. One of the characters puts the mask on against the wishes of his friend and is warned that the wearer becomes a demon. "He will spread pestilence and evil" As the character removes the mask he is cut just like Rosemary was. This she finds really disturbing and at that moment realizes that the cut she has is bleeding again and heads to the bathroom to get cleaned up. As she walks out the film also talks about cuts that will not stop bleeding.
There is this stuff with Liz (Enrica Maria Scrivano) and a strange guy making out while Werner (Alex Serra) listens to the movie. It was like she planned for them to be here to meet the man. It is a bit out of place but a reason to focus on the audience and break up some of the plot points. So the film being played is interspersed with the audience behaviors in what is some pretty decent editing. When the film later starts to parallel the goings on in the theater it is a real movie making treat. Bava obviously knows what he is doing and the effects are startling and effective.
In the first of an increasingly amazing gross out effects shot of Demons, Rosemary in the bathroom looking at the cut on her face. It pulses and bubbles before bursting forth a green goo. The film now is sort of becoming the theater as the fiend in the movie becomes a demon as Rosemary also does in the bathroom. There are the screams in the film that mask her screams. The on screen film is quite gruesome with some pretty intense stabbing scenes. Carmen (Fabiola Toledo) heads to the bathroom to check on her friend but it is too late and demon Rosemary chases her after wounding her neck. Escaping by running in a panisc through the corridors of the theater, she ends up behind the screen of the movie. Unfortunately for her with all the screaming and stabbing happening in the film no one notices her real live screams. It is a great bit of editing here also. Werner notices Liz is gone and calls for her. She is getting it on with her man a little ways off and wants to head back but is not really pulling away. Werner is feeling around in the dark as demon Rosemary is making it up to the balcony where Liz her lover and Werner are seated. There is a stabbing through tent scene in the film while Carmen starts to turn into a demon herself behind the scream, again masking her distress in a wall of movie sound. Finally though she forces her way through the screen and everyone knows something is going on. They race to her aid as Rosemary gets the cheating couple strangling them with a rope. They see Carmen change in what is some excellent special effects as her fingernails are pushed out by claws, her teeth push out by fangs and she is quickly a demon.
Now the attacks come fast and furious and the music picks up to ad to the chaos, people are panicking and running for the doors as our hooker demons get a couple more people, but in an unexplained phenomena the doors are now blocked by walls. Maybe it is the theater that is doing it? It is important to note the gory attacks are getting better with eye gouges, skulls ripped off, broken fingers and more each more gruesome than the last.
As they blame the movie for the goings on they decide they have to stop the movie and break into the projection room. There is no one in the room though it is all automated. Tony, the pimp with a plan is not done giving orders though. He smashes all the machines and thus the movie is stopped. We now inexplicably shift from the theater to a bunch of coke heads in a stolen car who really only have one purpose, that is to let the demon plague out of the theater. It is annoying but it is what was decided in the script they end up running from the police and in the alley next to the theater, a door mysteriously open and they get in. At the end of the scene though a demon gets out too though. They don't even last very long once inside, they are demon meat before they know what hit them. It really takes away the incredible tension that was built in the Metropol and throws viewing for a loop. The pimp with a plan, Tony has the survivors breaking seats to block the entrance to the balcony and fights off a demon or two before he too is bitten. If they had just stayed there the whole time without cutting in the coke heads it would have been a lot better.
When fully trapped I mean barricaded in the balcony the remaining non-demons pound in the walls to try to get attention of the outside world. Although it fails to bring rescue they do find a hidden passage to a cellar where they freak out because they are still trapped. They panic a bit and the camera follows the room in an artistic scream fest. Only Hannah and Tom are alone together in the theater and are desperately seeking a door that does not seem to exists. Hey maybe if they crawl into the air conditioning vent? Maybe that will work as a means of escape? Back to the balcony and they know the barricades won't last forever but they wait it out. They hear gunshots from the cops dealing with the escaped demon in the alley, soon they are scrambling to get out through the very barricades they built. They are not thinking clearly tearing down the barricade that is keeping the demons out. All most of them can think is that the gunshots mean there is help out there and they have to get to it. Seeing a problem with this strategy George, Ken, Cheryl and Kathy head through the remaining barricade crawling under before the demons attack. Of course they are chased but make it out the other side. What is great about this film is it just keeps upping the gore ante and the attacks at this point are amazing particularly the finger biting. As they exit the crawl Kathy has fainted after a close call with a demon. She is out of it but as she wakes the guys and Cheryl realize she is possessed by a demon, not bitten but possessed. Oh and did I say it gets better, not only is she a gone but the creature literally crawls out of her back. At this point you could say that the film can't get better but it does. All the demons are on the hunt and only Cheryl and George are left, before they get out of the theater there is motorcycle slashing in the theater it is amazing and hilariously crazy but he is the motorcycle samerai and slays most all of the demons. Enough you say NO says Demons and a helicopter comes crashing through the roof. You will be like WTF but our remaining characters see a way out through that hole in the roof. It is just excellent the lengths this film goes to. Then on top of that there is more and we see what has been happening outside also. WOW! Oh and what were those posters on the walls of the lobby? Was that an AC/DC poster and a Four Flies on Grey Velvet, nice touches. So for all you horrorphiles out there if you have not seen this movie What are you waiting for? This flawed but ultimately brilliant film is waiting for your eyes to bleed in its glory.
Rating (8.2) 5.0 and up are recommended In the Zombiegrrlz system BUY IT!