Every horror movie lover has their own gateway director into the world of Italian horror cinema: Argento, Fulci, the recently passed Bruno Mattei, Umberto Lenzi, Sergio Martino, Michele Soavi, every horror fan can name their mother’s milk. I, for one, suckled on the teat of Lamberto Bava. I cut my teeth on MACABRE and then, understandably, weaned myself towards solids through repeated viewings of A BLADE IN THE DARK. DEEP RED (1975) and SUSPIRIA (1977) finally propelled me into a realm of understanding and sudden awareness: yes… yes!, the Italians truly knew what horror was all about.
Time to rejoice: Anchor Bay has just re-released DEMONS and DEMONS 2 on DVD with spankin’ new image transfers. The seminal DEMONS (1985) begins with Sarah (played by Asia Argento’s older, decidedly less whorish sister, Fiora) deciding to cut class with a snotty friend after scoring a pair of movie passes for a screening of an untitled horror film. The screening takes place at a spacious local theater called the “Metropol” and a bevy of random people attend, the most amusing of which are a tyrannical, easily-enraged pimp and his two hos (“Sit here and shut up, you stupid bitch!”). One of the hos cuts herself on a scary mask displayed in the theater lobby and it doesn’t take long for her to mutate into a hideous, snaggle-toothed demon that begins to transform other moviegoers into horrible demons with the potency of her foamy bite.
Meanwhile, a group of Italian trouble-makers—led by the bug-eyed “Ripper”—cruise around in a beige station wagon, jamming out hardcore to Go West, which is presumably how all 1980s Italian thugs rock their Friday nights. After a backseat scuffle results in several grams of spilled blow, an angry, coke-fueled Ripper pulls the car over and freaks out. When accosted by the police, Ripper and his minions are forced to flee into the Metropol where they encounter the remaining frightened audience members and a shitload of snarling demons. Wha-bam!—two story lines collide!
A woman gets scalped, a blind man gets his eyes poked out of his head in a moment of strange irony, and an emotionally abusive husband gets his throat torn open in a gratuitous amalgam of heavy-duty 80s-era latex and Karo syrup. The film culminates with the hero driving through the theater on a motorcycle, slicing demons with a samurai sword, right before a very fragile-looking helicopter comes crashing through the roof of the Metropol in what must have seemed like a huge triumph of prop logistics back in 1985.
Some dialogue at the end of DEMONS implies that possessed folk have begun to take over the entire world, so Fiora Argento and her new beefcake boyfriend flee the city by hitching a ride in a jeep with a bearded man and his kids as the end credits roll (during a brief pause in the credits Fiora crystallizes into a demon and whips her head around to growl at the camera…SURPRISE mothafuckas!).
It’s a foregone conclusion that the vast majority of visitors to this website have already experienced Bava’s unparalleled cinematic duo of demonism, but for those unaccustomed to his heavy-handed and often memorable directorial touch, give DEMONS a look. The new transfer looks particularly fantastic and both films are mandatory viewing for any self-respecting fan of spaghetti splatter.