Demons/Demons 2 (UK - BD RB)
Our Marcus takes on a Demons double bill on Blu-ray and lives to tell the tale...
Demons invites a group of strangers into a movie theatre to watch a horror film and seemingly the events in the film begin to affect the audience. A young woman, who joking around, places a prop demon mask on her face, soon turns into a demonic creature and spreads her nastiness amongst the rest of the crowd. As the trapped audience battle to survive, the demon numbers grow and the blood, puss and killing grows along with it.
Demons 2 has much the same set up but with the residents of a block of apartments, sharing the same viewing experience via their TV screens. Soon the demonic nastiness spreads all over again but this time the suits and haircuts are way more 80s.
Both of the Demons movies (available separately or as a double limited edition steelbook) are what good old fashioned horror films look like. The first of the series is a much more effective experience but essentially both would make the perfect horror experience at Halloween or whenever you like to gore it up. The films have extremely basic set ups (group of people trapped in the same 'no way out' situation while being chased by demons) but the combination of horrific imagery, brutally practical special effects and pure insanity make them great examples of horror movies, the likes of which just don't get made any more.
Nowadays we follow a lead character, we get their story arc in amongst the madness and there's a through line. Demons isn't that at all. In fact both Demons movies feel as if we're watching an event unfold real time rather than seeing a story being told. The characters are pretty thin, no one is all that explored but it all works for the movie because it generates as a manic sense of turmoil as characters run around being chased by other characters spewing green goo and staring demonically through their evil eyes.
Of course, this isn't too far removed from the zombie genre. It's all spread by blood and cuts and death but there's something about the demonic spin that makes this more chaotic, more fun and more crazy. The make up and special effects run wild with teeth falling out, finger nails growing, demons climbing out of hot Italian chicks' backs and any number of crazy/gross/awesome combinations of that theme.
Both Demons films add up to a great horror night in. They are fun without being funny, gross without being really scary and with a crowd, a Demons double bill is just a blast from start to finish, even if Demons 2 doesn't feel as slick as the original.
The presentation for Demons has a filmic grain to it, but with some realistic and often natual lighting Demons winds up looking pretty damn good. Inerior scenes are strikingly clean for a nearly thirty year old movie. The cinema foyer, with its black walls, highlights the quality of the HD presentation well with bright reds popping without going pinky, deep blood reds looks perfectly bloody and strong greens and blues against the darker backgrounds really showing off.
Skin tones all look pretty natual and the glow of the lighting in most of the film adds a lot to the depth of the visuals. The details are sharp, pretty much throughout. Small things like the textures of props, sets and of course skin always works well and it doesn't take too long to conclude that this Blu-ray release is doing a wonderful job at giving Demons a fresh presentation without doing any sort of digital manipulation.
The sequel also holds up pretty well. It's less consistent and it has a grittier look to it but generally it's a strong transfer. The main drawback is the starker lighting and less attention to the moody setting and location. The characters are all dressed in a more yuppy fashion and somehow it makes them feel more hollow. Sure both films are very, very 80s, but somehow the sequel draws more attention to this.
Both films come with a mix of 80s electro score, a bit of metal and some straight up 80s pop. All of this is actually quite strong despite the stereo limitations but the sequel suffers a bit. The balance between music, sound effects and dialogue can feel a bit wavy in Demons 2. There's some pitching issues from time to time and it suffers from not sounding quite right. This isn't the case with the first Demons.
It still fells a bit hollow in places but it's pretty crisp. The out of sync and seemingly always overdubbed dialogue - whether in English or Italian - is always a bit distractiong but even so these elements sit strong in the centre speaker. The rockier metal tracks and electro score win out much better on the original Demons and all in all the stereo track actually does a good job at holding on to the tension and creating the right nostalgic mood.
Demons comes with a director's commentary from Lamberto Bava as well as a mediator. It's a little flat due to the language barrier but details and insider stories are all there and it's very much a track that feels built for fans with straight forward questions as well as more in depth stuff. It also seems to be recorded in a large room as if it's in front of an audience.
The cast & crew commentary track has some horror magazine writers as well as cast and crew members (Lamberto Bava, Geretta Giancarlo and Sergio Staveletti). Again it's not the easiest track to listen to due to the largely Italian contributors and having to follow subtitles a lot of the time, but fans should eat this one up.
'Dario's Demon Origins' (10:31 HD) is an interview with Dargento regarding the birth of the film as well as its sequel. Defining An Era In Music (09:34 HD) looks at the electonic score and 'Luigi Cozzi's Top Horror Films' (11:27 HD) has him discussing his favorite Italian Horrors.
Demons 2 has another director's commentary track. This one comes with more gaps and is slower paced but still comes with plenty of detail for fans.
'Creating Creature Carnage' (20:29 SD) looks at the amazing practical special effects across both films and 'Bava to Bava: Luigi Cozzi on the History of Italian Horror' (16:50 SD) offers up even more cinematic history lessons.
I had a blast with both Demons films even if the second one suffered a bit from sequelitis. The transfer is incredibly strong on the first film (especially when compared to some of the standard definition clips within the extras) and the audio is basic but gets the job done (despite the issues with the sequels balance). The extras offer up a good selection but it's the commentaries that the fans will really get a kick out of.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 21st May 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby Stereo English, Dolby Stereo Italian
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Extras: Commentaries, Featurettes,
Easter Egg: No
Director: Lamberto Bava
Cast: Asia Argento, David Edwin Knight, Nancy Brilli
Length: 178 minutes
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