Directed by Lamberto Bava
Starring Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey and Fiore Argento
A theatre full of movie-watchers are shocked to find out that the movie they’re watching is mimicking real life as the story comes alive right in front of them. It’s a shame the movie they wound up seeing is full of demons. Good news for us is that the movie is full of demons!
A man in an iron mask is distributing tickets for a show at a theatre that’s been shut down for some time. That night in the lobby, we’re introduced to some of the characters who may or may not survive the night including a few horny teenagers looking to pick up, an elderly couple who decided to spend their anniversary seeing a movie, a blind man and his niece and a pimp with a few of his fly honeys. One of these ladies plays around with a metal mask in the lobby that was intended to market the movie but she cuts her cheek on the mask.
Once inside, everyone is treated to a disturbingly violent horror film. Paying attention to the story in the film, there is a group of teenagers partying in a crypt they find to be the final resting place of Nostradamus who had (many times over) predicted the end of the world. They find a book describing the end of the world by demons as well as a metal mask just like the one in the lobby. A character scratches his face with the mask as we’re reminded that that exact same thing just happened not long ago! The lady notices her scratch his bleeding and goes to the bathroom to clean up as everyone watches the man in the movie turn into a demon based on that scratch. Uh oh!
Sure enough, the lady inspects her tiny wound and sees a huge pocket of pus burst from her face. Gross. Her friend checks in on her and sure enough, she’s a demon. The demon attacks and slashes her throat, spreading the disease. They’re kinda like zombies. The zombies, er, demons attack the patrons who succumb to the disease quickly and turn into demons, dwindling the survivors down quickly. The survivors try to find an exit but find they are trapped inside with no way out. Good thing there isn’t a fire in the theatre!
The first thing you’ll come away with after watching the film is just how gory it is. These creatures show no mercy to their victims. In addition to biting and clawing like little girls, they rip out throats, rip off some poor girl’s scalp, mutilate and dismember others. One demon is even a huge dick and rips out the blind guy’s eyes. That’s just mean, man. The effects are still pretty good after all this time, including the transformations of people into demons. Seeing fingernails split to show demonic fingers growing out and seeing teeth pop out exposing sharp demon teeth growing from the gum line were awesome effects. It’s super messy, disgusting and a fun time if you like this sort of thing.
The second thing you’ll come away with is that the story makes little sense. It’s a great setting and a great premise (movie within a movie!) but if you’re looking for an explanation for who that metal face guy is or how any of this is happening, you’ll be disappointed. The second half suffers a bit because the first half works with the great premise. The second half features scenes with a quartet of cocaine-snorting punks who eventually make their way into the theatre to become lunch but before that, their scenes really come off as filler to extend the running time of the movie.
The film has a lot of horror cred in that the film is directed by Lamberto Bava, the son of Italian horror icon Mario Bava who is often credited for starting the “giallo” genre in Italy as well as laying the foundation for the modern slasher film. Lamberto was already known for assisting on other horror films before directing his own and making a name for himself. The film is also produced and co-written by another Italian icon, Dario Argento, which is basically a stamp of approval for lovers of Euro horror.
“Demons” is an old favourite of mine and while it doesn’t scare me like it first did, it’s still a fun, gory mess that may not make a whole lot of sense, but who cares about that?
Story: 6 – Great premise with the movie on screen spilling out into the real world. It’s never fleshed out as to why any of this happens, but that’s a minor quibble.
Blood: 9 – Yeeaah, it’s pretty gross.
Nudity: 3 – A quick scene from one of the punks showing off a cocaine-powdered boob.
Overall: 8 – It has a great set up for a (not quite) zombie movie, it’s super bloody, contains hilariously bad dubbing and a rockin’ 80s soundtrack. It’s directed by even produced by Italian horror master Dario Argento in his prime! What’s not to love about this? Very recommended.
-The movie was actually shot in a closed down theatre. It was eventually renovated and became a bank. The exterior shots were of another building, a club called “Goya” which is still open today.
-The film has a sequel, Demons 2, but in Germany the sequel was released first and the original came after it. Why you gotta be so backwards, Germany?
-In the Playstation game “Silent Hill,” the film’s posters are seen outside of a movie theatre called the “Metropol” which is the name of the theatre in this movie.