As I have mentioned before, sequels are often looked at with disdain in the genre, in particular films that are basically a carbon copy of the orignals (exceptions being a film like EVIL DEAD 1 and 2). Lamberto Bava’s (A BLADE IN THE DARK (1983), DELIRIUM (1987), BODY PUZZLE (1992)) DEMONS 2 is a film that seems to polarize the horror genre, on one hand laughed at due to the similarities between it and DEMONS, while the other half hold it up as a shining example of what can be done with a bit more money and polish. While the arguement can be made for both sides, the film is certainly a high octane gore-fest that may copy some ideas of the original but spins them in a unique way that can be quite enjoyable if you take the time to watch it and appreciate the effort put into it. The films tells an interesting tale: “A documentary is shown on TV of group of teens who investigate the legendary forbidden zone, in which a Demon infestation once took place (see Demoni I). When finding a lifeless corpse of a demon, one of the teens causes the resurrection of it, and the demon makes it’s way into the nearby world by TV-broadcast… An unlucky girl, having her birthday-party at that time, gets possessed by the demon while watching the documentary and soon the entire building in which she lives turns into a living nightmare.” The film returns several of the cast and crew from the original, but none reprise the same role without ruining what happens to them. An Italian oddity that has worked its way up to cult status, it will leave you breathless at times and certainly cheering for more carnage the whole way!
Reuniting Dario Argento (SUSPERIA (1977), OPERA (1987), GIALLO (2009)) and Bava, the film takes us to a skyscraper where we see many elements of society living together with all of the modern day needs contained inside. While many can argue that it is a simple rehash of the original, I feel like the tone of the film is different because we are seeing many different classes being portrayed in their own enviroments, where as in the original everyone is trapped in a theater. It almost seems as if those that are living a carefree lifestyle (or hedonistic, if you will) are the early victims while those like the hard working boyfriend and his pregnant girlfriend fight with all of their strength to survive the nightmare that surrounds them. If you pay close attention, the other thing that people seem to miss in these films is how Bava is using different forms of entertainment media as a conduit to the demon attacks: a movie theater in the original and a TV in the sequel. Arguements can be made if Bava is suggesting that our “entertainment” is poisoning us and making us “demons” (an interesting spin on popular culture making us “zombies”) or some other supernatural force is behind the possessions, but it is interesting to note how social structures collapse along class lines as the chaos overwhelms everyone. Slightly more polished than the original, there IS new ground to be found if you pay close attention to what is going on…
While several of the cast members from the original return from the first film, noone plays the same role that they did in the original. The cast includes David Edwin Knight (WHO SHOT PATAKANGO (1989), SEX, LOVE & INTIMACY (1996)), Nancy Brilli (BODY COUNT (1986), WHO WANTS TO KILL SARA? (1992), EX (2009)), Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni (OPERA (1987), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1999), MOTHER OF TEARS (2007)), Bobby Rhodes (SCREAMERS (1979), DEMONS (1985), BEYOND FURY (2017)), Asia Argento (THE CHURCH (1989), THE STENDHAL SYNDROME (1996), LAND OF THE DEAD (2005)), Virginia Bryant (THE BARBARIANS (1987), THE PRINCE OF TERROR (1988)), Davide Marotta (PHENOMENA (1985), A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (1999), THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (2004)) as well as a host of other Italian day player actors. Dardano Sacchetti (A BAY OF BLOOD (1971), CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980), THE CHURCH (1989)) is a co-writer on the script with Argento and Bava, and we also have Sergio Stivaletti (CEMETERY MAN (1994), THE CARD PLAYER (2004), DRACULA 3D (2012)) handling the FX work. Considering the fact that so many of the same people worked on this film and many other great Italian horror films, it is kind of sad to see that the DEMONS series never really took off and became more than what it was, though there are the rumors of a remake in 3-D…
Budd Wilkins of Slantmagazine.com (11/9/14) takes a bit more of a philisophical view of the film: “DEMONS 2 emblematizes the Freudian repetition compulsion that lies at the dark heart of the horror genre. Audiences, so the theory goes, flock to horror movies (and, by extension, their ever-proliferating sequels) to come into visceral contact with some primal traumatic shock. By confronting and thus “mastering” the trauma, viewers convert the experience from a psychic wound to a malleable source of pleasure. Film industries, naturally enough, encourage the “sequelitis” engendered by this phenomenon. First off, there’s the economic advantage to be derived from churning out sequels that carry over a cohesive cadre of personnel from production to production. It also allows filmmakers to more effectively establish storytelling boilerplates that winnow narrative down to an affective algorithm: Witness the stopwatch precision evident in much modern horror, where the scares come along in intervals readable and reliable as any railway timetable.
DEMONS 2 fuses these aspects. On the one hand, the majority of the first film’s crew and some of its cast return for the follow-up. The biggest shake-up here involves swapping composer Claudio Simonetti and a soundtrack fueled by howling heavy metal for Simon Boswell’s more ethereal synth score accompanied by brooding Brit new wave acts like Dead Can Dance. On the other, the film’s narrative stands somewhere between reprise and remake (analogous in that regard to Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD 2) as a new demonic infestation breaks out among a different set of claustrophobic corridors. Exchanging the gothic Metropol theater for a steel-and-glass high rise named, blandly enough, the Tower has the added advantage of imbuing DEMONS 2 with traces of quasi-Cronenbergian craziness of the Shivers strain. There are the same pointless (not to mention tension-sapping) cutaways to supernumerary characters visiting a beer garden, as well as another carload of bootless delinquents, with an even more meager payoff than in the previous film. And where Demons went meta with clever usage of a film within a film, DEMONS 2 embraces the medium cool of television for its self-reflexive shocks.” *1
Jay Shatzer of The Lucid Nightmare Blog (5/11/13) states “Much of the enjoyment factor of the movie has a great deal to do with the practical effects on display and the wonderful creature designs for the various demons. Nasty and grotesque, the demons are as maleficent as they are decrepit and their proficiency at dealing out violent retribution to anyone that crosses their path is without equal. Blood splatters and wounds agape as these vile creatures search every nook and cranny of the complex for fresh meat to tear apart and the effects department do an excellent job in bringing it all to fruition. The transformations of the humans as they painfully morph into demons is a highlight of the film, though in my opinion it was done more feverishly in the original entry. Be that as it may, Demons 2 is an entertaining romp that never seems to wear out its welcome as it goes balls to the wall in its attempts to shock and awe its audience.” *2
FUN FACT #1: In DEMONS 2, Argento’s youngest daughter Asia made her feature film debut at the age of 10. In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine she states “I never acted out of ambition; I acted to gain my father’s attention. It took a long time for him to notice me – I started when I was nine, and he only cast me when I was 16. And he only became my father when he was my director. I always thought it was sick to choose looking at yourself on a big screen as your job. There has to be something crooked in your mind to want to be loved by everybody. It’s like being a prostitute, to share that intimacy with all those people.”
FUN FACT #2: The scene where Hannah (Nancy Brilli) has a baby was not part of the original script. Originally, Hannah’s baby would become a demon inside her and claw its way out of her. This scene was taken out when Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento decided they wanted a happier ending. *3
“Because I am the Dedman, and you are not!”
Michael “Dedman” Jones