Demons (Dèmoni) (1985)

They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs.
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Demons - They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs.

Despite the expected poor dubbing and tawdry rock music (sounds familiar), Demons (Dèmoni) is a gore inspiring and influential Italian horror movie that has obviously helped fashion many a horror movie that has been created since. Packed to the gunwales with stereotypes and cringe worthy dialog, Demons is also brimming with grisly and creative guts and gore with some fairly high tech effects for a 1985 movie. The demon infestation is quite comparable to a standard zombie plague as the infected spread their demon-like-qualities to those that they kill and begin to outnumber the non-demonic customers of the cursed movie theatre... which just happens to be showing a cursed movie about demons. Lamberto Bava (son of Mario Bava) is not afraid to take the gore to excessive levels simply for the sake of gore and obviously relishes taking his actors to bits in a slow and detailed manner, plus he realizes that gratuitous (and ironic) drug taking and the occasional nipple are necessary to stir up a bit of controversy and take the movie out of the mainstream and into the realms of cult horror.

Whilst cruising the West Berlin subway, Cheryl (Natasha Hovey) encounters a creepy metal-masked chap who she suspects is following her wanting to steal some good-times, luckily when he catches up with Cheryl her good-times are safe as he just wants to give her a free ticket to the premiere of a horror movie in a new cinema renovated from an old gothic building. Thinking herself stupid for being so paranoid she decides to hook up with her friend Kathy (Paola Cozzo), skip music class and go and have some fun watching an unknown horror movie in a daunting building that she was invited to by a misfit stalker in a demon mask... what could possibly go wrong?

In the cinema lobby, suspiciously devoid of spotty teens selling cardiac-arrest inducing popcorn and 5-litre buckets of diluted cola substitute, a number of others ticketed to by the metal faced marketing student, all anticipating tonight's feature. Tony the pimp and a couple of his ho's have decided to take a night off serving their community and check out the movie too. One of the ladies of the night decides that it would be hilarious if she puts on the metal mask which is part of the movie display, unfortunately few people are amused by her hookerish antics and even worse she cuts her cheek as she takes the mask off. Hoping that the mask isn't infected with anything demonic she returns it to it's stand and everyone is ushered into the screening.

It soon becomes apparent that the cinematic presentation is a horror movie about demons and when one of the on-screen characters cuts herself on a mask and transforms into a demon, hooker number one decides to visit the restroom to check her cut and hopefully not spurt any green slime. Unfortunately her slime-spurt preventative measures cannot hold back the snotty cheek gush and she is soon undergoing the painful process of demonic transformation. Deciding that it would be unfair not to share the newfound pleasure of slime spewing, Miss Demon-Hooker proceeds to infect the other moviegoers who also decide to share their demon-germs and soon the various stereotypes in the cinema are all ravenous flesh-eaters.

Finding that the exits have mysteriously disappeared the non-demons seem trapped with no escape from the demonic infestation, but remain positive that maybe some coke snorting hooligans may hear their screams and provide a way out of the forsaken edifice. Will Cheryl narrowly escape into a demon ravaged society and be rescued by a gun toting family escaping from the city or will she succumb to the demon-flu and not give away the ending?

Dario Argento's screenplay antics and directorial influence are apparent from the occasional creative camera angle and the ever apparent colourful lighting but Lamberto Bava's more conventional horror style is evident from the flow of the story and the more affable action paced horror, relying on shocks and scares rather than Argento's usual atmospheric sense of impending misfortune. Plenty of blood flow and slime-vomiting keep the levels of horror high throughout with the occasional slow and painful demonic transformation making Demons tick all of the boxes in a "What makes a good horror movie?" survey. Demons is definitely one of the top Italian horror movies and takes the genre in a non standard Italian direction making the movie accessible to a wider range of horror fans outside of the "cult only" fan base but will still appeal to those looking for a work of art. The typically zombie-like apocalyptic ending once again draws comparisons to other undead movies but luckily the pandemic is quelled in time for Demons 2.
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Categories: Italian Horror Movies

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