Demons (1985)

They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs.

Year of Release: 1985
Genre: Horror
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 88 minutes (1:28)
Director: Lamberto Bava


Urbano Barberini ... George
Natasha Hovey ... Cheryl
Karl Zinny ... Ken
Fiore Argento ... Hannah
Paola Cozzo ... Kathy
Fabiola Toledo ... Carmen
Nicoletta Elmi ... Ingrid, the usherette
Stelio Candelli ... Frank
Nicole Tessier ... Ruth
Geretta Geretta ... Rosemary
Bobby Rhodes ... Tony
Guido Baldi ... Tommy
Bettina Ciampolini ... Nina
Giuseppe Mauro Cruciano ... Hot Dog
Sally Day ... Liz
Lamberto Bava ... 1st Man exiting subway (uncredited)


In 1985, Italian horror masters Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava unleashed this landmark splatter shocker about a group of strangers invited to a sneak preview at a mysterious movie theater, only to be trapped inside and transformed one-by-one into carnage-crazed monsters. It's a one-of-a-kind combination of creepy terror and relentless gore-orgy, featuring a pounding soundtrack of ‘80s metal, a throbbing score by Claudio Simonetti, and gut-churning special effects by Sergio Stivaletti. This is DEMONS as you've never seen it before, with every blood-drenched frame now fully remastered for the ultimate in ooze-spewing, flesh-flaying, spine-ripping madness!


Demons... see this is why Joe Bob Briggs is such a strong proponent of the drive-in. If demons spring up in the middle of the hard top spewin' Chernobyl tap water outta their mouths, what're you to do about it? The usher's no good, the demons already ripped their face off an used their flashlight as a makeshift colonoscopy scope. You can try to demand your money back at the ticket booth, cept by the time you think of that the attendant's barricaded 'imself inside so he can try to convince God what a good boy he'll be if He'll just help 'im outta this one last jam. You're just shit outta luck. This kinda thing'd never happen at the drive-in. Demons try to harass you? Roll up the window. They try to disrupt the movie by climbin' on the screen? Everybody in the lot lays on their horn til their slimy heads explode. Try to cut in line at the concession stand? That'll be the last thing they ever do. I don't care how red your pajamas are, you try to get between a fat man an his drive-in dog when he's already on the verge of missin' Leatherface chase Marilyn Burns with the buzz saw an you're gonna end up a stain on that fat man's overalls. As you can see, demons pretty much stick to the hard tops. They're simply ill equipped to handle the drive-in goin' public of America an don't have much interest in bein' shoveled up offa the dirt when the show's over. How'd you like that segue from the opening one liner right into the "who loves it" section? Pretty slick, I know. But anyway, what we've got here is another heartwarming coming of age story by that Italian pillar of the community, Lamberto Bava. Or Mario Junior, if you'd prefer. Now if that's not already reason enough to pay attention to the wisdom for your everyday life segment, well, you must just be a dimwitted prole whom I'd like nothing to do with. It's the only reason that kinda willful ignorance makes any sense. An if that's not enough, he's got Uncle Dario lookin' over his shoulder the whole time makin' sure he doesn't do anything sane that might wreck the movie, so do yourselves a favor an pay attention to this next part, or I'm tellin' Dario. You really don't want that, cause then he sends Umberto, Lucio an Ruggaro over to your house to teach you some manners. Anyway, first thing. Coke is best served from an empty Coke can. Just make sure it's empty before you dump your powder in the can. You think cocaine's a rush? Try snortin' some cola up your nasal passage some time. Second, if you ever happen to find yourself trapped in a theater with a hoard of demons tryin' to skin you an play your ribs like a glockenspiel, just follow the blind man. He'll lead you out quicker'n Bob Filner's palm finds a hiney. An third, NEVER, under any circumstances take the front row seating in the theater. Those seats are reserved for the helicopter about to crash through the ceiling.

But the thing that really sickens me about this one, and I can't believe I'm havin' to explain this, is the complete lack of bathroom etiquette displayed in this movie. Here you've got Geretta Geretta inside the stall, takin' care of a personal problem she's got that I'm not about to share with you people cause then I'd just be part of the problem, when Fabiola Toledo sticks her head in WITHOUT GETTING CLEARANCE. This is even worse than when your Mom tries to talk to you when you're on the pot like it's no big deal, at least in that scenario you're not in a public place. You never know what someone might be doin' in a bathroom stall, so I'll run down just a few of the more embarrassin' situations you can walk in on; Montezuma's revenge, bulimia, involuntary bulimia from the Montezuma's revenge in the stall next door, tampon switcheroo, accidental toilet pluggage due to a rest stop fetus deposit, conception of a future rest stop fetus deposit, or bein' forced to use the hand dryin' towels cause the roll ran out. These are all situations for which the person in the can needs to be allowed to have full human/turlet confidentiality, you can't just be walkin' in there when they're doin' their business, some things in this world are still sacred, an this is one of the big ones. Seriously, it's apallin' that I even have to mention this, but I guess this is what we've come to as a society. An while we're on the subject of bathroom etiquette, you creeps that insist on takin' the urinal RIGHT NEXT TO the only guy in there usin' the row? You're the lowest of the low. I guess it's time to just spell it out since guys tend to just put the rule out there an never explain why this is a problem. Takin' a squirt isn't exactly an excitin' or erotic moment for most guys an we're all ashamed about our three inchers while we're answerin' the call of nature. Some guys try so hard to hide it they end up leanin' so far forward that they get ten miles down the road before they realize they've walked out with the urinal cake zipped up in their fly. An it's all because of these weirdos that just don't GET IT. So I hope that after readin' this that everyone can move forward an just give each other a little breathin' room. Or heavy breathin' room, if that happens to be the case. An you creepers that insist on takin' the urinal next door, can't you just go use the glory hole like the rest of us? There's no reason to be disgustin'.

The movie begins with a constipated lookin' girl (Cheryl) ridin' the rails of Germany til she gets off an starts makin' her way to the nearest drug store for some ex-lax, only en route she's ambushed by Kano an has to walk away real fast an look over her shoulder every few seconds to make sure he can't see her wincin' in pain from the cheese log she had on the train. He's a sly one though, an he uses the secret Black Dragon short cut an heads her off at the top of the escalator an she gets this excrutiatin' look on her face cause there's no hidin' it now. However, Kano just dropped by to pass out an invitation to the afternoon matinee an once he's done so, goes on about his business. Times're tough, the mercenary business is a little slow these days, don't judge the man. Once he's gone, she heads outside to meet up with her friend (Kathy) so they can skip class an go to the movie. Ironically, that day they missed a class lecture on how to survive an Italian horror film. So the two girls head over to the theater an get taken by the candy machine til two guys (Ken and George, but lets call George... oh I dunno, Fonzie) come over an Fonzie smacks her snicker bar outta there like Chris Brown on a blind date. AYYYYY! About that time, Tony the Pimp shows up with two of his best sellers an one of 'em (Rosemary) grabs this chrome hockey mask offa display in the lobby an cuts her cheek on the edge. Tony's appalled, he can't take these bitches anywhere. Then everyone heads into the theater along with various "featured" couples that we'll be able to recognize later when the shit hits the fan an pretty quick the movie starts. Up on the screen, we've got some punk teenagers that roll into the ruins of Nostradamus' stock brokerage firm on dirt bikes an start lookin' around for Nostradamus' tomb to see if they can find any hot tips on the horse race happenin' later that night. While this is happenin' the usher that's dressed like Santa Clause before Coke changed the color of his garb, an who's got 65lbs of red hair slung over her shoulder walks around the theater playin' passion police, surgeon general, or whatever role is needed due to all the riff raff lousin' up the joint with their various forms of debauchery. Then the scrubs up on the screen finally find the tomb an the only thing inside is a mask that looks like Gene Simmons an a text that tells 'em demons are bad news an that if you put on the Simmons mask you'll turn into one an be relegated to a lifetime of Hail Marys just tryin' to break even with the big guy. Gene always slayed the babes though, so one of 'em puts the mask on anyway an about the time the genius on screen takes the mask off he starts bleedin' from a cut much like the one Rosemary got moments before. Well, then Rosemary's cut succumbs to peer pressure an starts leakin' again an she has to run off to the powder room an dig through her purse for her solderin' iron.

Only once she gets to the can her cut swells up bigger'n a Bazooka Joe bubble blown by Richard Simmons til it explodes an leaves the mirror lookin' like the screen of a Motel TV set that gets the Spice channel. Meanwhile, the guy up on the screen that put on the Gene Simmons mask starts shankin' everybody an Tony starts gettin' worried that if people see 'im out with only one woman that they won't take 'im seriously, so he sends Carmen to go check on Rosemary an when she finds her she's sittin' in the stall tryin' to update her phone number an she spins around an takes her nine inch nails to Carmen's jugular til she's got cat scratch fever. Meanwhile; the slutty daughter of the blind man back in the cheap seats' ditched 'im to be fondled by a homely bald man that looks like he's prolly one of Tony's regulars, an old couple bickers, an the hitherto main characters hold the hands of Ken an Fonzie so they won't have nightmares later. Then Carmen's neck zit busts like a worn condom as she tries to make her way back to the theater an ends up comin' through the theater screen an collapsin' on the stage like Redd Foxx. About that time, Rosemary sneaks in while everybody's distracted an shanks the blind man's daughter an the balding letch while Carmen starts growin' Freddy Krueger nails an leakin' black shit all over til the place looks like the Valdez oil spill. Then the letch drops from the ceilin' on a noose an Carmen gets up an starts tearin' out throats like Sam Peckinpah when they wouldn't give 'im final cut an Rosemary sinks her claws into the blind man's eye sockets like she's gonna use his head to pick up the 7-10 split. Everyone else runs like mascara when Bambi's mother gets shot lookin' for a way out while Rosemary scalps one of the more hapless patrons like Custer at the Little Big Horn an Tony an The Fonz have to shove the candy machine in front of the stage door while she's checkin' to see how she'd look as a blonde. Tony's got this shit figured now. Seems the plot to the movie's becoming reality inside the theater, so the only logical thing to do is go upstairs an pound the crap outta the projectionist. So he an the mains head upstairs to do just that, only the theater's got a modern projection system an there's nobody workin', so Tony goes ape shit on the machines an hacks up the film so bad even Anchor Bay can't restore it. But once everyone gets back into the theater, the blind man who's now sans eyeballs, stands up an tells everyone they're wastin' their time cause it ain't the film, it's the theater. Tony doesn't have to listen to this crap. What's this guy know anyway? He can't even see. So he starts preparin' to mutilate some bodies so they don't sit up an start performin' unsolicited acupuncture on anybody, only he's just a little too late cause while the blind man's beggin' 'im not to chop his daughter into haggis she pops up an starts tryin' out for a whore position an Tony has to slice up her face like a ho that ain't pullin' her weight.

By now, everybody's finally figured out that Tony might have the right idea when it comes to mashin' the corpses up into stewed tomatoes; unfortunately, the demons regroup and recognize Tony as the only person in the room with an IQ higher than the cost of the fountain drinks an maul 'im like a conservative on the Colbert Report. Elsewhere, a pack of Eurotrash punks're hot roddin' around in their 1972 Buick Skylark while snortin' cocaine out of a Coke can so the cops won't think anything weird's goin' on when they see 'em with the straw up their nose. Only the driver slams on the brakes to avoid a pink elephant an pretty quick there's a snow storm all over the back seat an he has to yell at his droogs to scoop it up before he sobers up an goes back to law school. Then one of 'em realizes there's about a half a line on the tittie of their treasure-troll-lookin' bimbo an he starts carefully bladin' it off her til he nicks her nipple an really tweaks her off. Back in the theater, Ken an The Fonz have taken charge an they've got everyone tearin' the seats outta the floor an barricadin' the doors like Event Security at a Beatles concert. Then the blind man crawls outta the bottom of a pile of cheap seats an makes his way outta the theater while a couple wanderers spot his shadow on the wall an hide in the heatin' ducts in case he's one of those paraplegic demons that's lost his wheelchair. Back outside, the cops show up an start wardrobe profilin' the punks an they have to book it down an alley where a conveniently placed door leadin' to the theater opens up for 'em an they're able to get inside just as the cops were about to get their second wind. Or their first wind. But anyway, after lookin' around the cops spot the blind man on the ground pretty much resemblin' a package of ground chuck by this point, but when they bend down to loot his valuables he sits up an cracks their heads together like Moe Howard. Meanwhile, the two Rhodes scholars that hightailed it up into the heatin' ducts're startin' to hear noises behind 'em, so when they get to an intersection the guy switches to the rear so he can protect his woman an watch her ass wiggle. Only once he switches he starts hearin' the same noise in front of 'im an pretty quick wiggles turns around an starts shreddin' his face like Deepwater Horizon records.

Elsewhere, the treasure troll gets separated from the other droogs an ends up gettin' put in the rear nekkid choke til her fellow thugs hear 'er, only about that time an army of dermatological nightmares with glow in the dark contact lenses start saunterin' towards 'em an pretty quick they're bein' picked outta the demons' dentition. Back in the theater, everyone hears the shots bein' fired outside by the cops while the blind man's tryin' to get at their tender vittles an assume they're saved. So pretty quick there's more chairs flyin' through the air than an ECW main event as the clever ones try to unblock the doorways an within moments everyone but the four main characters're gettin' eviscerated an their intestines used for jump ropes. Cheryl, Kathy, Ken an Fonzie all manage to crawl out while the demons' mouths're full, but Kathy's startin' to get a little on the Linda Blair side an pretty quick a Jimmy Dean sausage log with horns tears it's way outta her back an leaves the mark of Zorro on Ken's neck before runnin' off to find reinforcements. Ken has sad face. He's about to join the ranks of Kyra Schon, Scott Reininger an Harvey Keitel an he knows it, so he grabs a katana off a nearby display an tells Fonzie to take it an Yakuza his ass before he starts frothin' at the mouth like birthers at an Obama rally. Fonzie ain't seen Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, or even From Dusk Till Dawn, so he refuses til Ken's skin turns smurfiatone an grows melanomas all over an eventually concedes when Ken's so far gone he can't even remember the secret bro handshake. That's when you know there's no hope. The Fonz is P.O.'d, so he grabs the dirt bike that's on display in the lobby an guns it into the theater where he proceeds to decapitate more Europeans with bad haircuts than Louis XVI til the entire room is cleared an only he an Cheryl remain. Then, just in case somebody was about to accuse Lamberto of lettin' the movie drag, a helicopter crashes through the ceilin' an into the first row, an after Fonzie cranks the engine just enough to get the rotor blades movin' for a second so he can pay homage to Dawn of the Dead, he grabs a ninja grapplin' hook outta the chopper an pulls 'imself an Cheryl onto the roof to safety. Not really. But I'd rather not spoil the ending, so watch for yourselves.

Alrighty, well, Demons is possibly the best recommendation one could make to someone who's interested in getting into European horror. Reason being that by and large it doesn't play all that different from the average North American horror movie, and perhaps more important than that, it's simply really well crafted, regardless of its origin. On the whole, the only thing that really makes it clear that it's even Italian, other than the obvious shooting locations (though most scenes were shot in Germany) is the break-neck pace that European movies tend to have. Demons is no exception to that particular trademark, as there's always something going on to hold your interest, and strangely enough, Demons doesn't really seem to suffer from the fact that the main characters have absolutely no back story or character development of any kind. It's really a textbook example of a horror movie that compensates for its lack of character development by maintaining a high level of action/gore sequences. Even more anomalous than that bit of strangeness, is the fact that you still manage to at least somewhat care about the main characters, even though a lot of the emphasis is spread around to various "featured" characters until you're ultimately left with the four you started with. Something else that surprised me, as I always prepare to destroy several acres of rain rain forest to accommodate all the notes I figure I'll need to take for Italian movies, is that this one left me with a surprisingly small number of filled pages. The reason for that is pretty plain, it's the fact that the movie isn't loaded with irrelevant subplot. It always manages to hold your attention with entertaining sequences, yet never tries to confuse you with red herrings or attempts to make it seem deeper than it really is, and that's a major selling point. Nothing against movies that have a great deal of depth, if that's their angle it's not a bad thing, but I do tend to get bored with the tedium of movies that have too much ambition for their own good. It's important to know when to take a step back and take stock of the situation, particularly in the movie industry, because the moment you become too impressed with yourself, you lose the audience. But anyway, Demons succeeds where a lot of other horror movies fail because it knows exactly who it is, it knows exactly who its audience is, and it never tries to deviate from the path of success it sets for itself. Granted, that path was beaten down for it over the decades prior by other great horror movies that it borrows from and pays homage to, but that kinda thing has never bothered me and probably never will.

Okay, lets tear this thing's throat open an peek down inside it's esophagus to see what's hidin' in there. The plot, itself, isn't the least bit original, and in general, is very derivative of Romero's Dead series. And really, aside from moderate visual discrepancies of the demons themselves, it doesn't play much different than a zombie movie. That said, Romero's a great guy to borrow a plot from, so while it may not be original, it's certainly enjoyable and entertaining, which is ultimately what really matters. The acting is pretty good, and by and large the dubbing is implemented pretty effectively as well. Some of that is going to be a result of the movie being shot in English and Italian, which is a common practice with these kinds of movies. It tends to even things out a little bit when you figure you're gonna be releasing the movie worldwide, in respect to how people receive the discrepancies in the lip moment not matching the dialog. Anyway, the acting is pretty decent and never unintentionally silly. Bobby Rhodes as Tony the Pimp is a particularly likable character, as are the four Europunks.

Take a deep breath, here's who matters and why: Urbano Barberini (The Eighteenth Angel, Demons 6: De Profundis, Opera), Karl Zinny (Opera), Fiore Argento (The Card Player, Trauma, Phenomena), Paola Cozzo (Demonia, A Cat in the Brain), Fabiola Toledo (A Blade in the Dark), Nicoletta Elmi (Deep Red, The Night Child, Andy Worhol's Frankenstein, Who Saw Her Die?, Baron Blood, A Bay of Blood), Stelio Candelli (Nude for Satan, Planet of the Vampires), Geretta Geretta (The Becoming, Bloody Christmas, Rats: Night of Terror), Bobby Rhodes (Demons 2, The Great Alligator, Screamers), Bettini Ciampolini (Distant Lights), Giuseppe Mauro Cruciano (The Monster of Florence), Eliana Miglio (Demons 2, Midnight Killer), Jasmine Maimone (Paganini Horror, Demons 6: De Profundis), Marcello Modugno (Dial: Help, Spellcaster, Midnight Killer), Peter Pitsch (The Man Who Didn't Want to Die, Opera, Midnight Killer), Lino Salemme (Demonica, The Sweet House of Horrors, The Man Who Didn't Want to Die, Delerium, Demons 2), Michele Soavi (Cemetery Man, The Church, Demons 5: Devil's Veil, Demons 6: De Profundis, Opera, Stagefright, Phenomena, A Blade in the Dark, Tenebre, The New York Ripper, Absurd, City of the Living Dead, Alien 2: On Earth), Lamberto Bava (Demons 2, Midnight Killer, Tenebre, Beyond the Door II), Victor Beard (Demons 2), Giovanni Frezza (A Blade in the Dark, Manhattan Baby, The House by the Cemetery), Goffredo Unger (Devil Fish, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Panic, Absurd, Cannibal Apocalypse, The French Sex Murders, Snow Devils, War of the Planets). Long list of credits, and that's considering I can't read a lot of the titles that're in Italian.

The special effects, of course, are the high point. The butchery's a little redundant, without too much variation, but all the shredded necks look fantastic. In addition to the involuntary tracheotomies, we've got: exploding neck cysts, eyeball gouging, katana guttins, decapitations, half-capitations, Arkansas dental implants, nine inch nail stabbins, face shoved through rebar, and of course, the titular demon emerging from Paola Cozzo. All of which is handled with the kind of skill you'd see from a Tom Savini, Rick Baker or John Buechler if they were created in the states. Really top of the line stuff here. The budget helps, but budget isn't everything, and these guys that worked on this one are real pros, well done. The shooting locations are nice, again, free points for the European backgrounds that we uncouth, untraveled Americans don't get to see as often as we might like. Although the vast majority was shot in Germany, not Italy. Free points for shooting somewhere we don't get to see all the time, can't be anymore amicable than that. The theater, outside of European horror movies (where it's used with some regularity) is a setting that American horror movies don't use with great frequency, so it's a nice change of pace from the kind of location we're accustomed to. Additionally, the cinematography not only looks really good, but because the theater sequences were shot in an actual theater, rather than on sets (Most of the time), you get a much better result with low hanging authenticity that you cannot attain with sets. In movies like these, it's the little things like these that count for a lot, AND save money, if you're willing to endure the added hassle of having to work around the various restrictions encountered while shooting on location. As far as the finished product is concerned, however, it's always worthwhile. The soundtrack is a perfect representation of the 1980s, both in terms of the decent atmospheric instrumental scoring, and for the spiffy rock songs that play while you're watchin' people get their heads torn off. Though I think the finest sequence, as far as the soundtrack goes, has to be Urbano Barberini ridin' through the theater on the dirt bike hackin' off heads to Accept's "Fast as a Shark." I think that scene kinda sums up the movie, fast paced craziness. Overall, Demons is above average for anybody, from any country. Check it out if you think you can handle the 80s hair.

Rating: 77%