31 Nights of Horror - Night Nine: Demons (1985)

Demons marks the first time that legendary Italian film maker Dario Argento is mentioned on this list...don't worry...it won't be the last time. The film is written and produced by Argento and it is directed by long time collaborator and son of Mario Bava....Lamberto Bava. Out of all the films on my list, Demons is the one that most screams 1980's. It is a film born out of a time when Ronald Regan was president...when Billy Idol "punk" was all the rage...when films like this bled into your living room television.

I absolutely fucking love Demons.

There might've been other films that would have fit in this spot on my list. By any true standards, Demons is not really a great film. It possesses the same guilty pleasure aura that has made films like Sleepaway Camp, Pieces, Humanoids From the Deep, Silent Night, Deadly Night, etc. et al...such enduring experiences that have long lasted in our hearts. But, here's the thing...every one of the films that I have mentioned is a personal experience that cannot be replicated and for me...Demons is that personal journey of a film that I cannot explain to you the significance it holds in my heart. Sure, I can give you technical and solid reasons as to why a film like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre made the list...but, Demons??? I can only offer that Demons is a beautiful exposition into why I love horror film in the first place.

The film opens in some metropolitan subway where a man with a half metal mask and a deep appreciation for the Mad Max films is handing out free passes to a movie premiering that same night. Several people end up showing up at the premiere at this new theater called the Metropol. Some of the guests include a pimp with two of his "bitches", a blind man with a couple, some college kids, and a prick deserving of a rabid demon creature tearing his innards out....hmmm.

The film they all came to see involves four young individuals breaking into a catacomb where the find a mask. One of the young individuals cuts their face on the mask thus turning them into a ravenous demon creature hellbent on spewing bile and eating flesh. Now, it just so happens that one of the "bitches", mentioned above, cuts her face on a similar mask in the lobby and...well....hell ensues.

Garetta Garetta plays the ho that cuts her face and turns into an instrument of evil and she is all kinds of creepy fucking horror that truly scares the hell out of you as she lunges for your throat. While she might not be deserving of an Academy award for her acting skills in the film...if ever there were a category for best demon...she would win 10 times out of 10.

One of the things I love most about Demons is the fact that someone...or something...has sealed the theater from the outside...so, this becomes sort of an escape from within type movie...rather than the usual escaping from the outside.  Unlike the Romero films in which the survivors barricade themselves from the outside threat. These poor bastards are trying to find a way out. Can you imagine? Watching a goddamn movie about a bunch of demons taking over the world...only to experience the same thing happening in real life??!!


The performances from the unknown actors here are hilariously bad in an 80's way. My personal favorite is Tony the Pimp, played by Mr. Bobby Rhodes. He personifies everything I love from a cheesy 80's flick. He's the guy that you want to be first in line in a demonic killing spree...but, then you find that he's not so bad and decide that you want him to survive right before the moment he's subsequently killed off. Lamberto Bava isn't the kind of director that shoots a film with character development in mind...so, when you finally find one that you like...he's gone. It's a shame because Tony the Pimp personifies what a man of action should be. He takes over the scene and problem solves better than anyone else in the film. In our own opinion (which should pretty much be the only one that really counts), he IS the star of this movie. I realize this is probably a longshot the size of Soldier Field...but, if ever there is another sequel to this film...Bobby Rhodes should be the first person the filmmakers call.

The special F/X is surprisingly good for this kind of film. While there are moments that do look kind of cheap...for the most part the gore here is supplied in a cool-looking manner. I especially enjoyed the birth of the main demon guy.

Look, Demons isn't the greatest horror film ever made...that will come later in the month. But, it is certainly a hell of an entertaining film deserving of a late night Halloween viewing. I remember when I first discovered the film long ago, I originally thought it was an Argento film. So, after I watched all of his earlier classics I happened upon Demons and was somewhat blown away. Argento is known for his giallo work in horror...so, I was a little confused as to what to expect. It wasn't until Demons 2 that I learned about Lamberto Bava.

Demons gets a watch-at-your-own-risk recommendation because it's a film that you will either love or hate. There's no real in between with this one. You might end up shutting it off halfway through because you may find it stupid and are not in the mood for a relic from the 80's. Or...you'll probably love it enough to end up purchasing the Blu-ray whenever that comes out (still waiting, myself). Either way...it's a film that has earned a spot on my list of top horror films to watch this or any Halloween season.

4.5 out of 5

Thanks for reading!