Demons (Arrow Films Blu-ray)
Director - Lamberto Bava
Cast - Umberto Barberini, Natasha Hovey
Country of Origin - Italy
Discs - 1
Distributor - Arrow Films
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (5/5)
Lamberto Bava started his career much like his Father on the more technical side of the filmmaking process. In Mario's case it was as a camera man, and cinematographer for various films that led him to eventually take up the director's chair, for Lamberto he worked as an assistant director on many of his Father's films, and also films by Dario Argento (Inferno), and Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust) prior to directing his first film Macabre in 1979.
Lamberto Bava made an interesting slate of films from his his twisted sexual debut Macabre to his early 80's contribution to the giallo genre A Blade in the Dark. He even ended up directing a piece of what would become MST3K fodder with the Jaws knock off Devil Fish. That being said, no film in his filmography would become more well known than his first collaboration with producer Dario Argento, the delirious splatter epic Demons.
Demons falls squarely in the tradition of 80's splatter fare. It has a fairly simple premise. A group of people are invited to a sneak preview of a new horror film, as the movie plays out members of the audience beginning with Rosemary, a local prostitute, begin to turn into the titular Demons. The survivors must then band together to survive in the theater, and hopefully escape.
In my humble opinion Demons is one of the great party horror films of the 80's. It is right up there with Evil Dead 2, Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead, etc. The film is entirely humorous in it's approach which is odd considering the source of the film comes from a producer whose own approach to the horror/giallo genre lacks any sort of humor, and a director whose approach outside of these 2 Demons films appears similar.
The film is fairly straightforward in it's approach which definitely works in it's favor. Demons like many of the greatest horror films decides to keep most of the film in one locale, and the Metropole movie theater where we spend most of the running time is an excellent film location. Lamberto Bava spent a majority of his early career assisting his Father on gothic horror films like Kill Baby, Kill, and while Demons is as far from the gothic horror genre as you can get, the location is certainly treated with the same reverence as that particular genres mist shrouded locations.
The screenplay for Demons was a four way collaborative effort between Argento, Bava, and screenwriters Franco Ferrini (Phenomena), and Dardano Sacchetti (The Beyond, Manhattan Baby). The screenplay under typical scrutiny would not be considered any great shakes, but the dialogue in the film is great in a fun, and quotable way. The direction by Bava is fantastic, and offers some great lighting queues obviously inspired by producer Argento, he manages to keep the film moving at a brisk pace never letting the situation grow stale, and never leaving the audience bored.
Now, a splatter film lives and dies by it's special FX, and Demons has some truly kick ass Special FX courtesy of Italian gore-maestro Sergio Stivaletti. The transformation sequences throughout the film are fantastic, and disgusting as they should be. The kills, both of the Demons, and the humans are bloody, creative, and fun.
Demons is an absolute bloody classic of mid-80's comedy splatter horror. It's a relentlessly fun horror film, that offers shocks and laughs in equal measure.
I have had a copy of Demons on hand in every format since VHS, and 2 on DVD. I am hooked on this film, so trust me when I say that Arrow Video's 1:66:1 1080p transfer is not only a very significant upgrade, but the best the film has ever looked to my eyes. The colors in this transfer truly pop off the screen, black levels are inky solid and deep, there is a decent bit of film grain throughout offering a film like presentation, and the level of fine detail is greatly increased. There are some moments of softness throughout, but overall this is a truly fantastic presentation of Demons.
Arrow Video have presented Demons with 2 Audio Options Italian or English Dolby Digital Stereo. Normally, I would go for the native language track, but I've only ever heard Demons in English, and I am totally addicted to the cheesiness of the English dub track, so I went with that. The dialogue comes across clear and crisp throughout the film, the music from Simonetti's score to Accept's Fast as a Shark blares from the speakers, and the effects are mixed well.
Arrow Video have graced Demons with quite possibly (ummm definitely) the best extras package this film has seen to date. The Blu-ray has a commentary track from director Lamberto Bava and Special FX artist Sergio Stivaletti. We then get a cast and crew commentary with Bava, Stivaletti, and Geretta Gianecarlo (Rosemary). We also have a 10 minute interview with Demons producer Dario Argento about his role in the creation of this splatter epic. This is followed up by Defining An Era in Music an interview with Claudio Simonetti about his musical contributions to the film, and an interview with Luigi Cozzi about his favorite Italian horror films and gialli.
Demons is an absolute blast of sonic horror mayhem. The A/V on this disc courtesy of Arrow Video is spectacular, and the extras are the best ever presented for Demons. The disc comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.