The scion of one of Italian giallo’s greatest auteurs teams up with another of the auteurs of that genre to create one of the most insane cult horror films of the 1980’s.
A small movie theater in Berlin is holding the screening for a brand new horror film. The screening is by invite only and those who are invited show up for the screening. The film involves a young group of boys who come across a mysterious mask. When one of the boys puts on the mask, it transforms him into a bloodthirsty demon. The audience is beginning to like the movie until Rosemary, a local prostitute, begins to feel ill after pricking herself before the screening on a replica of the mask in the film. When Rosemary goes into the bathroom, she undergoes a horrifying transformation.
Rosemary becomes the first of what can be considered life imitating art as she becomes a bloodthirsty demon. Attacking her friend Carmen, who also becomes a demon. As they begin to attack the patrons at the theater, it is clear that this was meant for the beginning of a demonic apocalypse. Who will be left and how will they escape the new house of demons?
This film, from the mind of one of Italy’s greatest horror storytellers, Dardano Sacchetti, has quite an interesting concept that some may see this as Dawn of the Dead in a movie theater. However, we’re not talking zombies. We are talking demons and the idea involves “life imitating art” but amped up a few notches. Directing the film is Lamberto Bava, the son of Mario Bava, one of the horror genre’s greatest directors to come from the Italian sub-genre known as “giallo” and producing the film is another master of giallo, Dario Argento and collaborating on the script with Sacchetti and Franco Ferrini, it is clear why this is hailed as a cult classic today.
A majority of the film revolves around the chaos that begins with the character of Rosemary, a hooker who is there with one of her friends as well as their pimp, playing with the mask and getting her face cut. This is just the catalyst of what to expect when her cut bursts open showing pus and ultimately causes her transformation into a demon. However, while Rosemary attacks her friend, it is her friend Carmen who busts through the screen and goes medieval on anyone in her path, causing the infection. There is plenty of gore in these crazy sequences with the likes of friends George and Ken and their potential love interests Cheryl and Hannah having to evade the demonic horde.
In one of the craziest survival sequences, Urbano Barberini, known shortly after for the sword and sorcery film Gor, gets to showcase a taste of what he would later do in that film when he begins an assault on the demons. As George, Barberini grabs a prop motorcycle with Natasha Hovey’s Cheryl on his back as he rides through the theater with a katana sword in hand and begins chopping down demons left and right to the awesome “Fast as a Shark” by German heavy metal band Accept.
The movie proved to be so popular amongst the horror crowd that Bava would make a sequel a year later that would bring the chaos in an apartment building and then followed by a few other in-name sequels. Aside from the manic and gory violence, the other big asset of the film is the soundtrack by some of 80’s top hard rock musicians. Aside from Accept, there are songs by Billy Idol, Motley Crue, Saxon and Rick Springfield to name a few.
In the end, Demons is truly an 80’s cult classic that is just chaotic and gory, but accompanied by a heck of a soundtrack and perhaps a pretty insane survival sequence involving a motorcycle and katana sword. Definitely one for 80’s horror fans.
WFG RATING: B+
A DACFilm Rome Production. Director: Lamberto Bava. Producer: Dario Argento. Writers: Dardano Sacchetti, Lamberto Bava, Dario Argento, and Franco Ferrini. Cinematography: Gianlorenzo Battaglia. Editing: Piero Bozza.
Cast: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Fiore Argento, Paola Cozzo, Fabiola Toledo, Nicoletta Elmi, Stenio Candelli, Nicole Tessier, Geretta Geretta, Bobby Rhodes, Guido Baldi.