Coming at you like a boat propeller churning through scared fish, Demons is a hardcore, heavy metal discotheque bloodbath. Like a lot of Italian horror films, what it lacks in story and logic, it more than makes up for with gut splattered style and stunning visuals. Add in a snazzy and inventive score by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti and you have the ingredients for a fun horror romp that goes down like exquisite pasta and fine wine.
Directed by horror legend Mario Bava’s son Lamberto, Demons tells the story of a group of people trapped inside a haunted West Berlin movie theater and pursued by hungry devil creatures hell bent on world domination. These horned, fanged fiends were once humans, transformed by an evil curse that Nostradamus predicted. Did this guy ever predict anything good? Nostradamus was apparently a glass half empty kind of person. Demons gives us everything—hot Euro babes with 80’s hairdos, painfully obvious dialogue, scary monsters, cool music and suitably messy and grotesque makeup effects.
The movie starts with timid young Cheryl riding on the U-bahn, sharing the train with pink-haired punks and various assorted Euro-trash. Cheryl is played by stunner Natasha Hovey. She is a lightning strike mixture of girl next door coyness, smouldering eyes and pouty lips that say “fuck me behind the bookcases at the bibliothek” . That last word is in German. Her hotness, however, can be translated into any language.
At the train station, Cheryl is casually stalked and startled by a silent weirdo who hands her a free ticket to the Metropol theatre. This cat looks like a reject from a casting call of Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, complete with half of his face covered by a metal mask and the other side looking like boiled pork. Cheryl is carrying books, so you would assume she is intelligent enough to be attending University. Book smarts don’t always translate to street smarts. Common sense should tell the beautiful but naïve Cheryl to just walk away and toss the golden ticket into the trash. Willy Wonka was creepy enough, but this dude is just disturbing.
Instead she asks the mutant for an extra ticket for her hot friend Kathy(Paola Cozzo). I swear every broad in this movie is good looking. Even the older ones. They must have kept all the ugly women behind the wall in East Berlin. I don’t think communism was ever known for its cuisine or attractive women. This should be enough for you to support capitalism. Like expansion in Major League Baseball, I wonder if the united Germany suffers from a watered down “talent pool”?
Cheryl, obviously yearning for some sort of adventure, convinces Kathy to skip class and to take in the premier at the Metropol. Kathy is hesitant at first, but quickly relents as Lamberto Bava realizes that the horror machine is stuck at the station and the wheels of gore gotta start turning. You can almost see four pages of script containing character development blow down the street in the West Berlin twilight. As they make their way to the Metropol, Kathy hopes out loud that it isn’t a horror movie.
She doesn’t like horror movies. You need to subtract that from her good looks when figuring her hotness quotient. There is a definite scientific formula for this, but I don’t have any chalk or a huge black board to write down all the mathematical minutiae. I am fairly certain “hotness quotient” is Einstein’s second most well known theory. One could argue, however, that it is his most important.
The two lovely young ladies reach the Metropol theater. To no one’s surprise, it looks like a cathedral designed by the architecture firm of Beelzebub, Lucifer and Satanico. You can’t really fault them for going in. After all, demonic looking churches were big in the eighties for nightclubs. Are you too young to remember The Limelight in NYC? Shit went down inside that place that was probably just as freaky as the goings on in this film. Some of the denizens of that club looked as if they rose from the grave in the imaginations of some of our favorite horrormeisters.
We get to meet some of the other characters in this film who may or may not become a hot lunch for the titular creatures. Some of us may hope so. Why else would we be watching it? This isn’t an allegory for the Cold War or anything like that. We’re waiting for Bava to sharpen the knives, open up the mouth of hell and watch the blood flow. Gordon Ramsay does not appear in this film, however.
There is a middle aged couple celebrating–or lamenting–their anniversary. The husband seems to be a dick, one of those obnoxious guys that curses kids out if their wiffle ball went on his perfectly trimmed lawn. The wife probably just puts up with his shit because he is a good provider and she figures she will be dead in twenty or thirty years anyway. She is just hoping he dies first, so she can have a few peaceful years and pay for young gigolos to service her and have them piss in the husband’s funeral urn afterwards.
We meet Tony played by Bobby Rhodes. He is a badass black dude with the coolest looking threads in the flick. Tony has the beautiful bald head and killer facial hair that says he is not a man to be fucked with, unless you are a scorching hot high priced hooker or some other inconsequential joy toy. Tony punctuates many sentences with the word “baby” and he lays that down for the two women that are hanging on his arms. He is clearly in charge and looks like he should be in a commercial for some expensive liquor or shaving instruments.
Moving on, we meet George(Urbano Barberini) and Ken(Karl Zinni). They spot Kathy and Cheryl getting ripped off by a coke machine. George is probably some star football player. Not the kind of football that has a quarterback, but the other kind that most people in America don’t care about. Ken seems to be more of a brainy preppie. With his polo shirt and sweater draped over his shoulders and tied around the neck, Ken could probably get his ass kicked by Ralph Macchio even before the Karate Kid trained with Mr. Miyagi.
After George pulls some Jedi Fonzi shit on the machine and the girls get their soda, the four of them take their seats. We also meet a young woman escorting an older blind man to the film. If you were in the theater with them, you would probably hope she got killed quickly. Do you want to have to listen to this woman explain everything going down on the screen to this guy? Your blind!! No offense, stay home and listen to some classical music. Your ears work. This isn’t a baseball game. No one needs to hear the play by play of the movie. You want the score? Demons are up by ten in the bottom of the ninth.
And they got Mephistopheles Rivera walking out of the bullpen to close it out.
Before they take their seats, Tony and his two women stand around looking at a display in the lobby. The prop has a mannequin looking like a knight sitting on a fancy motorcycle. It is holding a samurai sword and a creepy mask that kind of looks like those theater masks. If you are a betting audience, you should put some money down that these items will come into play later. One of the girls tries on the mask and she is cut by it.
Women–can’t live with them, can’t live without them possibly starting the apocalypse.
Did you know that demons are the instruments of evil?
If you were unsure, don’t worry. After watching this film you will know this is a truthful statement. The film repeats this like a pissed off hockey coach making a team do suicide sprints on the ice because they fucked off in some exhibition game. Battling the forces of darkness is no different than playing hockey in the Olympics. You have to be prepared.
Pretty soon all hell breaks loose. Literally. And the fun begins. Our characters find themselves walled into the theater. The forces of evil were able to construct a cement wall around the entrances, barring any escape route for our unlucky amateur film critics. These demons work fast. New York State should hire them to fill the potholes that are punishing tires like some biblical plague during the hellish winter of 2015.
Bava treats us to some gnarly demons doing nasty things to our characters. There is a lot of cool makeup effects that manage to make us giggle with delight and turn our stomachs at the same time. Lots of vomited green frothy stuff, nails turning to claws and teeth falling out of people’s heads being replaced by fangs. Please remember to floss and if you get athlete’s foot, take care of it for God’s sake.
Demons doesn’t reach the heights of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, but it is a rollicking good time that delivers the goods. This film doesn’t have the same level of technical wizardry and perverse mean streak that Argento’s best seem to have. It should be noted that Argento was the producer and one of the screenwriters of the film.
This was a fun movie and I would recommend it to any horror fan. I don’t know if I could survive being stuck on the tarmac, pursued by an army of hungry demons for ninety minutes. However, I would gladly watch it on the plane to pass the time.
I could only hope to have a hot Euro-babe in the seat next to me.