There’s a lot to love about Lamberto Bava’s 1985 classic Demons, from it’s tongue-in-cheek ‘movie within a movie’ plot or it’s classically cliched characters to it’s mountains of goofy gore and it’s cocaine fueled hair metal soundtrack. But what we love most about Demons is that it never stops being a total fucking blast from start to end. And that’s not a superlative, Demons, like all giallos we love, just kind of….starts, and once it does, it never lets up.
There’s about 4 minutes of setup before we’re right into Demons, but this is no fault: Bava knows what we want: less chatter, more splatter. Eventual ‘Final Girl’ Cheryl (Natasha Hovey, who strangely seems like she’s had a concussion for most of the film) and her suitably skanky friend Kathy (Paola Cozzo) skip class to attend a film after being accosted on the Berlin subway by a masked promoter (Yep, that’s Michel Soavi, director of bugged out Italian trash classics like Stage Fright and Cemetery Man), and, you guessed it, a bunch of kooky spooky demons start possessing everyone and mutilating the audience members in an inescapable 80’s styled movie theatre.
From the jump we get a gang of hilarious horror icons like Tony the pimp (Bobby Rhodes, who slays the one liners throughout) prostitute / demon zero Rosemary (Geretta Geretta, looking like Rick James after a rough night) and lunkheaded 80s frat boy hero George (Urbano Barberini) battling the curse of the magical mask in a no nonsense script from a powerhouse team of Italian Giallo icons: Dario Argento, director Lamberto Bava and writers Dardano Sacchetti and Franco Ferrini. As the demons slaughter their way through the cinema, we’re treated with gleeful amounts of bright red blood, exploding heads, gouged out eyes, demon hatchlings and more mouth goop than you can imagine, and a riotous 80s synth score from Claudio Simonetti and some 80’s hair metal icons like Saxon and Motley Crue to keep it all moving. There’s exploding helicopters and dirt bike battles and decapitations galore, and that’s not giving away a quarter of the unforgettable mayhem Bava brings to the table.
Demons holds a place dear to us because it’s so much of what makes Horror a great genre: it’s fun, it’s funny, it’s gory and glorious in its trashiness. It’s inventive but cliched, silly but takes itself completely seriously and of course it’s over before you know it, like any great roller coaster. A must see for any Horror fan that sails past the rewatch test, you can’t go wrong watching this one on Shudder with some friends during spooky season, it’s a riot.