As Lamberto Bava’s gory, cruelly pungent DEMONS (1985) came to a close, the main characters were fleeing in a jeep to escape the evil minions released by a horror film screened at the Metropol, an old-school movie theater. According to dialogue delivered by a morose bearded man in a closing strongly reminiscent of Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD (both films were produced by Dario Argento), the demons are about to take over the world and they must flee in a Jeep to safety. DEMONS 2 comes along a year later and establishes early on that everything in ’86 is just peachy, the whole demon movement of ’85 was completely quelled, but then some malicious fuckers show a creepy demon-themed documentary on TV and a whole apartment building of tie-wearing, sleeve-rolling, poofy-haired ‘80s yuppies are transformed into demons, totally against their will.
The rock-fueled shenanigans begin at Sally’s birthday party, but after an emaciated demon busts out of her TV set and possesses her ass, Sally is compelled to spread the demon virus to all her fellow party-goers. Several of the more popular thespians from the original DEMONS are on hand to participate in the sloppy madness that ensues. Pasqualino Salemme (the bug-eyed “Ripper” from DEMONS) returns as an inept security guard who delivers his lines with an intense, meth-enhanced finesse. Bobby Rhodes (the pimp from DEMONS) is back with a vengeance as Hank, a tyrannical, easily-enraged gym instructor. The youngest Argento daughter, Asia, is on hand to add some sort of negligible street cred, although she’s still a teenager and still vaguely (very vaguely) virginal. But, sadly, DEMONS 2 is not DEMONS.
Don’t get me wrong, DEMONS 2 has its fair share of strong points. The creepy, pre-teen demon kid is pretty damn compelling, especially if you’re drunk or alone or maybe even just really tired. The wacky rubber creature that erupts from the kid’s midsection can be probably be somehow linked directly to 1985’s Ghoulies and it kicks all sorts of cheesy ass. Hank the gym instructor is more sadistic and bossy than R. Lee Ermey in FULL METAL JACKET and he should have a strictly enforced drinking game built around his tyranny. Good shit all around. DEMONS 2 certainly features some iconic scenes. Unfortunately, its attempts at comedy fall flat and the script is pretty clunky. From a gore perspective DEMONS 2 is gooey as hell, but it lacks the raw, mean-spirited vibe of it’s predecessor.
Rick Baker’s stellar but slow-moving transformation scenes in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON won the first Academy Award for Make-Up Effects in 1981, inspiring some of the greatest make-up effects to ever see celluloid throughout the 1980s. Italians and Americans conducted a sort of moon race to see who could create the coolest-looking gore before the entire art form was digitally raped to death by THE ABYSS in 1989. DEMONS and DEMONS 2 can’t quite hold up to an American latex masterpiece like THE THING (1982), but they’re the best that the Italians could manage at the time, and the films viewed back to back still makes for a very entertaining late night double-feature. DEMONS 2 sports a brash 80s metal soundtrack, ramshackle editing, and lingering shots of sluggishly-paced gore, and it stands in sharp contrast to the boring melancholy of Soavi’s THE CHURCH (a.k.a., DEMONS 3), the final, lackluster piece of the DEMONS trilogy that appropriately manages to avoid discussion.