Demons 2(Arrow Films Blu-ray)
Director - Lamberto Bava
Cast - David Edwin Knight, Nancy Brilli, Bobby Rhodes
Country of Origin - Italy
Discs - 1
Distributor - Arrow Films
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (3/5)
Italian horror films in the late 80's went through a period of change. The budgets were cut significantly even for top directors like Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, and the films coming out of the country were a pale shadow of what had been coming out only a few years before. Lamberto Bava made the film Demons alongside producer Dario Argento in 1985, and horror fans devoured the film. It became a huge hit on the developing video market making the film an instant cult classic. The film successfully blended a gothic horror setting, with glorious splatter, and some great comedy to create a horror cocktail too good to resist. It was destined to get a sequel, and it got one just a few years later with Demons 2.
Demons 2 brings back together the primary creative team from the first Demons. It is directed by Lamberto Bava, produced by Dario Argento, written by Franco Ferrini and Dardano Sacchetti, they even recast the pimp himself Bobby Rhodes in another role, this time as an gym instructor. And yet, even with all these elements in place, Demons 2 doesn't really come close to matching the intensity, and fun of it's predecessor.
Demons 2 starts with a voiceover showing a TV that recaps the ending of Demons, and what has been happening since the events of that time. It is being viewed by many of the residents of an upscale apartment block in Hamburg, Germany. One of those viewers is Sally Day, who is watching the movie in her bedroom while waiting for her friends to invite her out to cut the cake at her 18th birthday party, unfortunately for Sally, by the time they come to retrieve a demon will have emerged from the screen and transformed her into one of it's kind, setting off a turn of events which will turn the entire apartment block into a battleground, where it's residents must right to survive against the increasing number of demons swarming at their doors!
Demons 2 has a great concept, mixing together elements from David Cronenberg's Videodrome and Shivers, and J.G. Ballard's book High Rise with the titular DEMONS. The only problem is the concept only gets you so far, and the execution is lacking in comparison to what came before. To offer an apt comparison think of Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2, now think of Zombi's 3, 4, and 5 (if you even made it that far). The effects in Demons courtesy of Sergio Stivaletti were first class 80's splatter movie FX, were well executed, well lit, just fantastic all around. The FX in this film, and let's be honest in a movie of this nature the FX do make or break the film quite a bit, they are definitely lacking the same style. They do share a similar style to the Zombi sequels, and many other late 80's Italian splatter epics, and appear more like loose latex appendages, with badly blended makeup, and in certain cases just green makeup thrown on someone’s face with some demon teeth and nails.
Both Demons and Demons 2 have pretty average running length for films Demons being 88 minutes to Demons 2 88 minutes, and yet Bava's pacing for Demons 2 seems to be lacking the same exciting thrill a minute punch of the first film. Yes, there are loads of demons, blood, and guts throughout the film, but it just wasn't as effective or exciting as the first entry. The actors are as solid as you would expect in a film of this ilk, no problems there, and seriously I would put Bobby Rhodes in pretty much anything. He's one of those actors who is just damn entertaining to watch every moment he's on screen.
I found the screenplay clever in how it took off from the first film. As I see it the viewer can take it from one of two perspectives. The film that is being viewed is a movie of the first film, and all those events have been fictionalized. I do not exactly by into that take. My personal take on the material is that a movie (or TV movie) has been made utilizing TV footage taken the initial night of the demon attack, and then goes off in it's own direction into the "Forbidden Zone." I also found the Forbidden Zone sequences probably some of the most entertaining in the film, and thought that this would have probably been the better sequel to Demons had Bava and Argento chosen to go that route, and play it more straight.
Demons 2 is an entertaining, albeit, flawed late 80's Italian splatterfest. It's a fun little watch, and it's interesting how it takes off from the first entry. Bobby Rhodes, of course, steals the show with every scenes he's in just like in the first film, and the special FX in the film while not up to the scale of the first one still are above certain other Italian films of the period.
Arrow Video have presented Lamberto Bava's Demons 2 in a quite nice 1:66:1 1080p transfer preserving the films original aspect ratio. Arrow did a fantastic job restoring the first Demons for Blu-ray, and Demons 2 is no different. The film has a nice amount of fine detail, black levels are deep and solid, and flesh tones are accurate. There is a healthy amount of grain given a decent filmlike appearance. There are some minor issues with shaking images, these were a facet of the original production, and not a fault of the transfer, also they are infrequent. Also, there is some minor softness, but that rarely detracts for what is truly a fantastic transfer.
Arrow Video has provided 2 Audio Options Italian and English Dolby Digital Stereo (both with their own distinct Optional English subtitle track). Both tracks are completely solid, dialogue is completely clear and audible throughout, the music like the first film really blast from the speakers, and FX are mixed well.
Arrow Video have put together a solid package together for their release of Demons 2. The disc kicks off with a commentary track between director Lamberto Bava and FX guru Sergio Stivaletti. This is followed up by Creating Creature Carnage a 20 minute interview with Stivaletti about the 2 Demons films, his working relationships with Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento, and his various influences. We then have a piece called Bava to Bava: Luigi Cozzi on the History of Italian Horror. This featurette has the Starcrash director discussing the history of Italian horror cinema, and is a truly fascinating interview.
Demons 2 is a fun, but flawed follow up to the classic first film. It is a good way to spend a bloody hour and a half. The A/V restoration courtesy of Arrow Video is really spectacular, and they have provided a nice slate of extras to accompany the release. Recommended.