“ Genre: Horror / Theatrical Release: 1987 / Director: Lamberto Bava / Actors: Nancy Brilli, Bobby Rhodes ... / DVD released 10 September, 2001 at Platinum Media Distribution / Features of the DVD: Director's Cut, PAL, Widescreen „
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In a German tower block, a number of people are watching a documentary about demons who once infested a cinema and killed or passed on their disease to a number of innocent cinema-goers. The teenagers in the documentary go into the site, which is now closed to most people and find the body of a demon. Suddenly, the demon comes back to life and manages to reach and bite one of the tower block viewers through the television screen - a young girl called Sally, celebrating her 16th birthday. She then spreads the disease to her friends and before long, the inhabitants of the whole tower block is at risk. One couple, George and his pregnant wife, Hannah, are particularly determined to get out alive for the sake of their unborn child. Can they escape? Or will their little family be destroyed by the demons?
This sequel to director Lamberto Bava's Demons - and is also directed by Bava and produced by Dario Argento. Having seen the original, I knew pretty much what to expect - a gory, budget bloodbath with wooden acting and dodgy special effects. And that is pretty much exactly what I got. Nevertheless, poor quality aside, it is still entertaining. The acting initially seems a lot more wooden than it actually is, mainly because the film is dubbed in English, but the actors, of varying nationalities, are speaking their own languages - sometimes English, sometimes Italian. The acting quality isn't brilliant, although I think it is a slight step-up from the first film, where the acting was truly horrendous.
Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni plays Sally and is probably the worst of the actors. Sally is a spoiled little madam who can't decide what to wear to her birthday party and really deserved a bit of a slap for making such a scene about it. Thankfully, although her role is pivotal to the film, she spends much of it as a slime-ridden demon (more about the special effects later), which is strangely infinitely preferable to her teenage girl form. At least as a demon, we know she is supposed to behave badly. There's also a rather hilarious gym instructor, played by Bobby Rhodes, who, probably not deliberately, added a real touch of humour to the film.
George and Hannah, played by David Edwin Knight and Nancy Brilli are better. George is a relatively dull character, who likes reading and then is transformed into the hero of the piece. It's not realistic, but it is entertaining watching him change and, although he is either being boring or killing demons, I thought Knight was perfectly competent in the role. Nancy Brilli was actually quite good as Hannah and is easily the character for which everyone will feel most sympathy. It worked for me anyway. She genuninely looked frightened when being attacked and obviously really cared about her unborn baby. I really wanted her to survive out of all of them.
The story is okay - not terrible, but certainly not the best I've ever seen either. On the whole, it's incredibly similar to the original, in which the majority of the 'story' also involved a group of people being hounded by demons. There was one particularly silly twist in this one though, presumably put there to differentiate the film from the first one, which was the ability of the demon to reach Sally through the television. This is daft enough, but then we have to witness the ridiculous stretching of the television screen as the demon manages to pop through from his televeision world into Sally's living room.
As the film was made in 1986, the special effects are generally dire. I wasn't expecting them to be great - they were poor enough in the first film - but I think they were even worse here. The demons don't look at all natural; they appear to be either wearing masks or caked in make-up, which I presume wasn't really the intention. And then there was the slime. I'm not sure why the demons needed to be covered in slime, but they were - it oozed from them as if it were coming out of their pores. Still, it was marginally better than the green stuff that burst out of the demons in the first film! It isn't really frightening though, despite the classification of 18. The setting was dull in comparison - it was either wasteland or the tower block.
In the first film, the soundtrack was very much heavy metal based. In this film, it is a little bit gentler, including tracks from The Smiths, The Cult, Gene Loves Jezebel (remember them?!) and Dead Can Dance. Anyone who grew up during the eighties will recognise these bands and personally, I really enjoyed listening to them again. The eighties theme continues with the big hair, wacky make-up and loose-fitting clothes and ought to be laughable - but the clothes at least are making a come-back these days, so they look quite normal.
There are a handful of extras - mainly short features about Dario Argento and his films, which aren't specific to this film at all. In fact, the same features are included with the DVD of the first film, which defeats the purpose for me. All are in Italian. Finally, there's a trailer in English - thankfully of this film rather than the last one.
I should really be panning this film. Certainly it isn't held in great esteem by the majority of people - it only scores 5.2 out of 10 on imdb.com. However, I did enjoy it quite a lot. The pacing is good, there is always something going on, and the bad parts are generally quite funny. Anyone who likes Hollywood quality horror will hate this, because it looks so amateurish. However, if you like budget horror and are willing to give it a go, it is at least entertaining, despite its faults. Generally, I would say give it a go if you can get hold of a cheap copy. Three stars out of five.
The DVD is available from play.com for £2.99. I bought my copy from Poundland.
Running time: 90 minutes
Demons 2 is exactly the sort of mindless mayhem for which the cheap 80s horror film is remembered… blood spouts everywhere, the plot is basic by any standards and the acting is what can tactfully be described as ‘functional’. If this is your kind of thing read on. THE FILM Sally’s birthday party is not going well; although her friends have arrived, Sally is irascible and reclusive. Having retreated into her bedroom in the middle of the party, Sally sits down to watch a horror film on TV and is shocked when one of the demons contained within the film emerges from the screen and attacks her, converting her into a demon herself. Her friends, meanwhile, are huddled in relative darkness around a birthday cake in the main room, waiting for her to emerge from her bedroom and blow out the candles. Sally blows out the candles and promptly attacks the crowd, the result being a veritable horde of demons which proceed to go on the rampage throughout the block of flats, and from whom the inhabitants attempt to flee — only to find all the exits closed and unopenable. THE DISC · Distributor: Divid 2000 [DIVD003]. As I pointed out in my review of the ‘Demons’ DVD, Divid 2000 are a rather mysterious bunch, and strangely little is known about them. This is part of their ‘Dario Argento Collection’. · Rating: 18. · Region: 2 (PAL encoding). Will hence play on a standard UK DVD player system. · Type and case: DVD5 with clear oversized jewel case. Divid 2000 are one of the few to use this type of case, which essentially resembles a taller CD jewel case. · Running time: feature 87 minutes approx. This probably hasn’t been cut by much, if at all. The discrepancy in running time between this and the 91 minutes cinema print could certainly be attributed to the 4% speedup associated with PAL transfer. To be honest, most of
the violence contained within this film is, while bloody, of an over-exaggerated cartoon nature, and I hope that not even the Draconian British censors would see the need to chop such a thing to ribbons. · Picture format: 1.85:1 approx., letterboxed widescreen. This transfer is rather an average number, the colours being overstated and unnaturalistic in the film itself meaning that the DVD transfer does not really have a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, the fact that this is a 1.85:1 transfer which is not anamorphic leads to major resolution problems when you view the film on a 16:9 widescreen TV, and this detracts considerably from the viewing pleasure; it also has to be said that the contrast on this print is not all that it could be. · Audio: Dolby Digital Surround. Although this is a surround soundtrack the quality is actually very poor indeed. First of all the ambient volume of the track is very low, which means that one has to amplify the sound a LOT, which results in the inevitable background hum and which on a cheaper sound system could cause sound distortion. Why the volume is so low is totally unexplained, especially for a film filled with rock music which demands to be played loud. · Subtitles: none. · Extras: Behind the Scenes of Horror [Composed of five sub-sections: ‘Wild Imaginations’, ‘Rome the Forbidden Planet’, ‘The Museum of Horrors’, ‘The Second Cell’ and ‘Heavy Metal’]; Theatrical Trailer; ‘Director’s Commentary’. Taking the five sections of ‘Behind the Scenes of Horror’ in order: ‘Wild Imaginations’ features Dario Argento lounging on top of the helicopter from the first Demons film. He talks in Italian about the differences between modern and classic filmmaking, and the fact that much of what we see on the screen is now being done for real — reality, he argues, mus
t be presented harshly. This section, along with the four sections that follow, is subtitled (as part of the print). ‘Rome the Forbidden Planet’ features Argento once again. Here he tells of his fascination as a child and as a teenager with the Forbidden Planet shop in London, which provided a meeting place for fans and a great venue in which to buy the sort of film merchandise he liked. He then goes on to outline the founding of a similar meeting place in Rome, a project for which he was in part responsible, known as ‘Profondo Rosso’ [which is also the name of one of Argento’s films … ‘Deep Red’ in English]. ‘The Museum of Horrors’ is a section in which Argento tells of how he founded a special effects museum in the basement of Profondo Rosso, a place in which he could house and display the monstrous effects of his films for posterity after they had been used in the film, rather than the puppets being left to decay in an attic somewhere. ‘The Second Cell’ starts by showing the Demons exhibition in the Profondo Rosso museum and then goes on to discuss the relationship between Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento. The section ends with a very brief clip from the Italian TV series ‘Giallo’ [English: “Mystery”], directed by Lamberto Bava. ‘Heavy Metal’ is a lengthy excerpt (approx. 15 minutes) from the Giallo episode of the same name, directed by Lamberto Bava (in fact, this is the same episode from which the clip in the previous section was taken). To be honest, the stuff is slow, plodding and rather uninspired for much of its length, and the ending is incredibly contrived. This is a nice little oddity, though, and I don’t mind being shown a TV series I would otherwise never have seen for free. Be warned, however: the episode features another tragic misuse of the Iron Maiden track ‘Flash of the Blade’ (see ‘
Phenomena’). As with the first Demons film, the theatrical trailer is a remarkably dated item, comprising a selection of clips from the film along to music with no accompanying narration. It is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio, and as ever the inclusion of a theatrical trailer on a DVD release is welcome. The audio commentary is, in fact, not a director’s commentary at all but a combined commentary featuring special effects designer Sergio Stivaletti and journalist Louis Curci alongside director Lamberto Bava. This commentary is conducted in English, and it is painfully obvious that the speakers are not using their first language, the commentaries here unfortunately delving to the usual level of foreign directors speaking in English — talk about the film in a cursory way, recite a few anecdotes, but don’t critique the film in any meaningful manner. An Italian language commentary with subtitles would have been a better approach, although at least here someone was on hand “to help Lamberto with his English”. · Menus: not animated. The menus are rather basic affairs which are obviously the result of minimal design effort, and are intended to look like the scene from the end of the film in the mock TV studio. They are, however, adequate to the tasks required. CONCLUSION Once again this Divid 2000 release is adequate rather than good, and as I stated above, neither the print or the soundtrack are presented in a format that could not be vastly improved with a little effort. Still, with the inclusion of a commentary, trailer and such a varied and interesting compilation of extra snippets, the disc rises above the dross of the average horror DVD release and therefore deserves the three-star rating.