Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Demons"(1985)d/Lamberto Bava

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Going to the movies is bad for your health.
A collaboration between director Lamberto Bava and producer/co-writer Dario Argento that bungs logic down the lavvy and exacts rollercoaster revenge on the cinematic test screening audience.FX man Sergio Stivaletti pulls out all stops(with more hits than misses),the eclectic soundtrack ranges from Accept and Saxon to Billy Idol and Go West(!),with original mood music supplied by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin/Daemonia fame,and the result is pure Italian handwoven horror entertainment!Human marinara sauce is bucketed upon the screen,with side orders of change-o-heads,demons bursting from backs,helicopters crashing through ceilings,and blind eyes being popped out of their sockets.Is it any wonder this was a huge boxoffice hit?!!?
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Hey,aren't you Michele Soavi?What're YOU doing in Berlin with a half-metal face?
Cheryl(Natasha Hovey)rides the West Berlin tube,and apart from being startled by some poseur-punks along for the ride,she gets the feeling she is being watched and stalked.In the subway station she is approached by a strange man(Michele Soavi) whose face is subdivided by a metallic mask.He gives her tickets for a special movie screening that night at the Metropol.She coaxes her friend to skip class and take in the film with her.In the theater lobby,there's a Japanese crotchrocket,a Samurai sword,a metallic demon mask,a nifty Italian busta poster of "Four Flies on Grey Velvet",and a sexy-yet-menacing female usher to lead the growing crowd to their seats.Amongst those in attendance are a bickering married couple,two young lovers out on a date(the girl is Fiore Argento,Dario's older daughter),a blind man(!) and his daughter,two skirt-chasing college dorks(Urbano Barberini and Karl Zinny) and the obligatory black Italian pimp(Bobby Rhodes) accompanied by two of his hookers.One of the hookers puts on the mask in the lobby and scratches herself."That'll teach ya to touch thangs!" he barks.
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The movie inside the theater begins to strains of Motley Crue(!)and a Vincent Price soundalike narrator,as we find a group of kids(one of which is Soavi,with no metallic face) searching around an old tomb.The boys tell the girls they stumbled upon it earlier that day while looking for lizards(!!).Inside the tomb they find what looks to be the final resting place of Nostradamus and unearth a book that foretells the coming of demons(his most famous prediction,in my opinion...)and a cloth-draped metallic demon mask.Soavi puts it on and scratches himself.His friend tells him not to do it,as anyone who puts on the mask will become a demon.Hmmm.The lovable pimp and his hos smoke pot and joke loudly,irritating the other moviegoers.The blind man's daughter,who had been describing out loud everything happening on the screen for him,has a liason with her lover right under her father's nose.On the screen, Soavi's cut won't stop bleeding.In the theater,the ho's face won't stop bleeding.She runs off to the bathroom to tend to her wound,but it becomes a pus-spurting,throbbing infectious sore.The pimp's other ho goes to check on the earlier prostitute,who is now a demon,just like Soavi on the big screen.She abruptly strangles the blind man's daughter and her lover with velvet movie rope,and manages to scratch the other hooker before she escapes behind the screen.As Soavi attacks one of the girls in a tent with a knife,the hooker bursts through the screen and transforms into a demon before the audience's very eyes.Just like in that damn movie,you heard 'em!
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"What the hell happened to Rosemary(Geretta Geretta)!Holy shit!She's a friend of mine!"
Before too long an army of demons with glowing eyes is chasing what's left of the screaming audience around the theater,whose doors and windows have mysteriously disappeared(!).The pimp(naturally)steps up as the group's alpha survivalist,until he's bitten and scratched while barking orders at everyone.Cheryl,her friend Kathy,and the two dorks,George and Ken,fend for themselves while frothing demons kill people all around them.Outside the theater,a group of cokehead car thief punks(with a Coke can full of...cocaine.Get it?) sneak into the building while avoiding the police,only to be killed systematically by hordes of blood-thirsty demons.George takes to the motorcycle in the lobby,and skillfully wields the Samurai sword,lopping off demon heads while he peels out on the theater seats.For no apparent reason,Kathy is possessed by unknown spirits,and hatches a demon out of her back(!),which scratches Ken,who gets impaled on George's sword as he transforms into a demon himself.Just in the nick of time,as it seems all hope is lost for George and Cheryl,a helicopter crashes through the ceiling of the theater(!!),giving the desperate duo an escape route,which they utilize with a cable,wench,and grappling hook they find in the wrecked chopper.Outside,things are not so good.Demons have infiltrated the whole city, which is in a state of total destruction.As they flee a hoard of pursuant creatures,a surviving militia-style family in a jeep looking for safety themselves, picks them up.Cheryl transforms into a demon and is shot out of the vehicle and left,dead on the road,as the survivors speed away into the night.
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If they want a refund,you'd better give it to them.The titular demons converge.
As emptyheaded and bereaft of logic the disjointed story is,the movie itself does allow for plenty of thrills,gore a'plenty,and several cameos by Italian genre stars.An 80's classic overbrimming with excitement that only the most pretentious cinema snob could not enjoy watching a few times.It spurred on a nearly identical sequel(Demons 2) that takes place in a high rise apartment building,but never lives up to the original on any level,and two films which were scheduled to be sequels but had really nothing to do with Bava's entry(Michele Soavi's "La Chiesa",and Bava's "The Ogre").To date,Lamberto never lived up to the amazing legacy his father left behind with numerous classic films like "Black Sabbath",but he is capable of making entertaining genre fare like this,and for that I salute him.Good,wholesome horrific fun!
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Fancy becoming an instrument of evil?Try this mask on for size.
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Byzantine said...

Love the pics, especially the one of her neck slashed. Haven't caught this movie yet, but was checking out some old horror flicks yesterday and almost actually kept an eye open for this one on account of your review.

beedubelhue said...

Definitely check it out,it's chock full o' Italian gore-soaked goodness,so long as you leave your sense of logic behind.Thanks for the good word!


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