Tuesday, November 4, 2014

DEMONS (1985) (Synapse Films Blu-ray Review)

DEMONS (1985)

Label: Synapse Films
Duration: 89 Minutes
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.66:1)
Director: Lamberto Bava
Cast: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Geretta Geretta, Bobby Rhodes

A young woman (Natasha Hovey) is approached by a menacing man in a metal mask (Michele Soavi) in the Berlin subway, she attempts flee but it turns out he only wishes to offers her free passes to a movie screening at the Metropol Cinema.Joined by her friend (Paola Cozzo) and the teens arrive at the cinema where they meet two young flirtatious men (Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny). 

Also in attendance are a bad-ass pimp (Bobby Rhodes) and two prostitutes, one of which is played by a familiar face, Garetta Garetta of RATS (1984). In the lobby of the theater there is a movie prop of a samurai on top of a motorcycle wielding a samurai sword with a creepy metal mask. Garetta's character pulls the mask off the mannequin and wears it for a second. It scratches her only slightly but draws blood, I love it when the pimps reprimands here with "That's what you get for touching stuff"!, the dubbing of the pimp is awesome.

As the movie begins we see that it's a demonic horror film involving a group of teens and the prophecies of Nostradamus.  It's a fun movie-with-a-movie device, as the story line in the movie unfolds it seems to mirror what is happening in the theater at the same time. The hooker that was scratched by the mask starts to feel ill and heads to the bathroom where she discovers the scratch has become infected. The pulsating boil  erupts in a spray of demonic jizz as she transforms into a gnarly toothed, slime drooling demon with a fierce set of claws. 

As the movie goers slowly become aware that something terrifying is happening in the theater they are helpless to escape as the doors have been barred. The pimp played by Bobby Rhodes takes charge of the situation hollering out a barrage of quotable gems as they attempt to thwart the demonic siege that is well underway.. 

The gruesome make-up effects from Sergio Stivaletti  are plenty of fun with loads of torn flesh and gouged-eyes with an excess of blood and gore. A scene of a demon being birthed from the back of one of the infected is quite violent and fun - definitely a film that does not disappoint with a steady barrage of squirm inducing practical in-camera special effects.  

DEMONS is directed by Lamberto Bava (DELERIUM) and produced and co-written by Dario Argento (FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET) and the great Italian screenwriter Dardano Sachetti (THE BEYOND). The film has a distinct Argento flavor about it with some great moody lighting and stylistic choices - this is a a vibrant film. Away from the Argento influence it should be noted that Bava (son of Mario Bava) is quite a good director in his own right with the films A BLADE IN THE DARK (1983) and MACABRE (1980) under his belt, that said it's the DEMON movies he's probably most known for but I recommend digging into his other films to discover a few fun late-era Giallo entries.  

The film has a few storytelling hiccups along the way such as the introduction of a group of coked-up punk rockers forty-minutes into the film whom add very little to the story other than some appreciated nudity. At time it does feel like a series of gore skits patched together and the pacing suffers at points but not enough to suck out the fun.The onscreen action is fast and furious with a fun sword-swinging spin on a motorcycle through the theater and a helicopter which crashes through the ceiling of the theater all set to a fun metal-infused soundtrack, this is a damn fun party film. 


Both DEMONS and DEMONS 2 were released in as Limited Edition SteelBooks last year and featured a new HD scan of the original 35mm negative featuring all-new color correction supervised by Synapse Films. The colors are vibrant and if you have ever seen this film you know it is oozing with neon gore, synapse have raised bar with this new transfer. Additionally black levels and grain are managed nicely, a very solid transfer from start to finish. 

Audio options include both the International English DTS-HD MA 2.0 and the U.S. DTS-HD MA Mono alternate dub soundtrack. Both export the dialogue, score and gruesome effects with a powerful clarity. The tracks are well-balanced and the metal soundtrack featuring Motley Crue, Saxon and Accept is a blast. Claudio Simonetti of Goblin fame provides his own electronic flavor to the proceedings which accentuates the onscreen demonic action.

This budget minded release is pretty bare bones with only the Original US Theatrical Trailer for the film but the new transfer and color timing is fantastic, appreciate that Synapse offered this as an option for the fans who couldn't afford the deluxe SteelBook edition. .


DEMONS (1985) is a classic Italian splatter film and a fun watch, a can be a bit disjointed at times but it earns high marks for the sweet gore and fist-pumping soundtrack. A phenomenal transfer from Synapse Films only sweetens the deal, this is a high recommend for those who couldn't purchase the Limited Edition SteelBook edition, which is still available from www.synapse-films.com. DEMONS is one of the best rock n' roll horror films out there, right up there with THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and it never fails to deliver the demonic good.