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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Demons 2 (1986) Horror Demons

Demons 2 (1986) - "Demoni 2: L'incubo ritorna" directed by Lamberto Bava and written in concert with Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, and Dardano Sacchetti this is a sequel to the movie theater madness that was Demons. Instead of a theater this time we have a highly secured luxury apartment building called The Tower. Safety is first to these people and that need for security sure has a way of backfiring. The film starts in darkness with a voice over to set the atmosphere "A terrifying centuries old prediction foretold the spawning of the demons on earth. That prediction came true when spectators in a movie theater were transformed into blood thirsty fanged creatures and spread death and contagion. Days of terror that convinced the world demons can exist." It is unclear whether this voice over is for us viewer or is the start of the "movie within a movie" that runs throughout Demons 2. Similar to the first Demons film there is a movie about Demons being played during the unfolding of the plot. In the first film it is why all the people are at the theater in the first place and in this sequel many of the people in the apartment building are watching a film on television. There is the woman with the dog (Anita Bartolucci), the boy left alone Tommy (Marco Vivio), the security guard (Lino Salemme) Sally Day the birthday girl (Caorlina Cataldi-Tassoni) and a variety of other guests. It is a fairly well executed technique, we get to learn the players in the apartment building and at the same time the plot of the inevitable demon cross over approaches. A bit of exposition to let us know that the demons pass the demon plague on through their nails and body fluids. It is the single most important plot point. It is because in both instance the film and the real life events sync up that the demons can cross over into this world but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
The opening scene is a humorous misdirection, a close up of a knife with what could be dripping blood, a man's feet an apron red with the fluid, pan out to the baker putting the finishing touches on Sally's birthday cake. This is the introduction and then we head off to the main set at the apartment building.
This is a large cast and many people are introduced as living working and playing in the building. There are George (David Edwin Knight) and Hannah (Nancy Brilli), she is pregnant and he is a student who live in the building. The Haller family consists of Mr Haller
(Antonio Cantafora), wife Helga (Luisa Passega) and daughter Ingrid (Asia Argento), there is the prostitute visiting a client named Mary (Virginia Bryant).
Of note though if you read Soresport Movies early review of Demons (1985) then you know of the "Pimp with a plan" Bobby Rhodes and here we get to see him again as the gymnasium instructor with the same gusto her brought to his first role.
This film like the first uses the method of cutting the scenes within the building, people watching the scary movie, the party goers dancing, George studying with the scenes from the movie within the movie. In that film two couples are investigating what is call the forbidden zone,
The clunkiest part of the plot is the party and the cross over of the demons. Sally is a borderline personality who can not seem to be happy that her birthday is here. Recently broken up with Jacob she is pissed when she learns he is coming over. This is set up to draw another parallel to the first film where we saw a group of punk rockers driving in a car eventually making it to the movie theater and letting the demons out into the world.
In this film Jacob and his three friends drive towards the party playing hard rock music and acting very much like the punk rockers in the first film. The problem with this stuff is that it has no bearing on the plot at the apartment building.
Jacob drives really fast and in the end crashes into Tommy's parents' car in front of the building.
It does not really do anything, it does not attract police to the crisis. None of the people end up getting into the building, it is really a dead end. It does moves Sally into her bedroom away from the party that seems to just go on without her. Not even her best friend bothers to join her in her room. She sits watching the horror movie moping while the party goes on without her.
In the movie in a movie the two couples investigating the forbidden zone come across a demon body dried out and trapped beneath rubble. On of the girls cuts her arm and drops land in the mouth of the demon, this starts its rebirth. Pam (Eliana Miglio) sets up the group for a photo with the demon even with none of them noticing it coming back to life. At the same time at the party Ulla (Maria Chiara Sasso) is setting up the party goers for a group picture. When the two women snap the photo at the same moment, in both cases the flash fails and this little bit of synchronicity joins the world of the demon movie and the apartment building. Sally watches in horror as the demon in the screen seems to see her and walks right at the television screen. Its face pushes out and when she turns it is in the room with her. This is a really weak connection but it gets the job done and it is a short jump until Sally is a demon also and the friends in the other room are target of the Sally demon.
Not before Sally spills bodily fluids from her body, a new form of demon acid blood or something that eats through the floor and drips through the ceilings of the floors below. Its only purpose is to create a way to spread the Demon transformations more quickly.The party is quickly a total demon feast. Unlike the first film where the transformation from wounded human to demon took a bit of time it is not so here. Really about a half minute is all that is needed for the change to happen, so very quickly Sally's apartment is full of hungry demons.
They break out of Sally's apartment and the entire building is now compromised. The smart reviewer out there must see this as a historic piece connecting to the two recent [rec] movies, [rec] and [rec]2 films of recent years. Another film that may have taken or at least shared ideas with this film is The Horde which also used an apartment building as a centerpiece, in its' case a zombie and revenge film rolled into one. Although those films reduced the scope of the building and have original origins for the demon infestation the mechanic as pretty close to being the same.
The rest of the film breaks down into scenes of each of the areas of the building and the people in them and how they are effected by the outbreak. The woman with the dog, hears the dog growling and sees the demon blood dripping from the ceiling.
She watches in horror as the dog transforms into a demon dog.
Then the struggle for her is to try to avoid it and stay alive.
Tommy, home alone gets locked out of his apartment and in so doing must hide in the ventilation system to avoid the Sally demon who is prowling the halls. In the gym the leaking demon blood transforms a man in a steam box which then sparks another chaotic fight between the "Gym Instructor with a plan" Hank and his muscle heads against an ever increasing number of demons.

Three workout women are huddled hiding in a car when the demons attack you see not only are the windows rolled down but the sunroof is open making for easy demon feeding. Can't figure out that choice at all.He and his crew and the Haller family all end up in the parking garage but find that the building is locked down so tight that no one is getting out. They are going to have to make there stand right there. Arming themselves as best they can they circle the wagons for a final battle. It is so useless, with the claws of the demon converting each person they scratch it does not seem it is a winnable battle. Poor little Ingrid (Asia Argento in her first movie role) has to watch as her parents are killed and she is surrounded by demons. While we are talking about the garage scene there is the most ridiculous thing in it.
George and the Hooker are trapped in the elevator when the power goes out. She has already been set up as terrified of elevators and so there is quite a bit of hysterical behavior on her part and calming words on George's part. Through a crack they can see the carnage befalling the residents of the building but are helpless to do anything about it. For them the challenge is finding a way out of the elevator.
George is part of the through story and he the actor is a bit stale in the role but he has the internal drive to get back to his pregnant wife. In the commentary Lamberto Bava talks about not really liking the actor very much, feeling that he was not giving his all in the film. George does eventually make his way back to his apartment and finds his darling wife Hannah has survived a dual attack. The first part by a little demon child who squeezes in through the changed door and then by the true demon that emerges from its stomach. George arrives just in time to save her.
The final sequence is Hannah and George making their way to the roof so they can repel down the side of the building onto the roof of the television studio next door. All the while having to fight off demons and the very persistent Sally demon. When all is said and done George and Hannah have a brand new baby boy and they are free from the apartment building. How they get there is worth your time. So although not as scary as the newer films I mentioned in this review, this film is a very competent attempt at making a demon film with chaos and struggle that work in group and for individuals. The effects are all eighties cheese and the soundtrack include the likes of The Smiths and The Cult. Sure there seems to be things that go nowhere but that has often been the case with Lamberto Bava films. In this movie at least those things do not impact the overall storyline. You can't say that everything is perfectly explained but for the most part the simple story of survival plays out to a some what satisfying conclusion.
Rating (5.7) 5.0 and up are recommended

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