Movie Time at the Metropol! - "Demons" Review
A beautiful girl feels persecuted by a strange presence while riding the Berlin subway. When she gets off at a deserted station, she watches a strange masked man who seems to be chasing her.
Paranoia. Chaotic and random synths by Claudio Simonetti that already sounded outdated in 1987. The girl, named Cheryl (Natasha Hovey) believes to have escaped only to be surprised by the strange masked man, who is now in front of her.
The masked man, whose scars are very convincing, just raises his hand and gives her a flyer/free entry to a screening in an old theater that has just been reopened: The Metropol.
Cheryl then completely abandons her survival instinct (that were right all along!) and invites her best friend Kathy (Paola Cozzo) to the theater, without even knowing what film they are going to project.
In the Metropol, the atmosphere is convincingly mysterious. The usher and usheress are silent and enigmatic. There are demon masks, katanas and motorcycles decorating the place.
The audience is diverse. There is a pimp extracted from the 70s, accompanied by two loud and chaotic prostitutes, which he mistreats. An elderly married couple argues at every single thing. A blind man decides to attend the screening (??) and asks his beautiful partner to describe to him what's happening on the screen.
But the woman prefers to have a makeout session with a stranger while her poor blind partner screams for an explanation. Cheryl and Kathy are greeted by George (Urban Barberini) and Ken (Karl Zinny), who have obvious intentions to have sex.
The movie starts. It's a horror story based on a group of young characters who decide to desecrate the tomb of Nostradamus. When they open it, what they find is a weird book and a demon mask identical to the one that adorned the foyer of the theater.
When putting on the mask, one of the characters ends up with a cut on the cheek. The wound would get rapidly worst. The poor bastard would end up becoming a bloodthirsty demon.
Back on the movie theater, one of the prostitutes, who cut her face while jokingly putting on one of the decoration masks, will also end up becoming a demon, unleashing hell and general panic.
Metropol exits are sealed. The audience of the screening must seek to survive at any cost.
Demons seems to be a very sarcastic parody about the demonization of the arts (yeah, subtlety is not Demons' cup of tea), taking as a starting point the conservative point of view that accuses violence in the cinema as a corrupter of minds and behaviors. That script written by Lamberto Bava, Franco Ferrini, Dardano Sacchetti and the master Dario Argento, seemed to have much more depth than what it shows.
The idea of a deceived audience, lured to a screening where demons will be literally invoked on the screen to attack them, kill them and turn them into new demons, seems to make clear that satire about the "bad influence" of movie violence.
Demons doesn't make its intentions very clear but does more than enough to stir up the debate. And besides, it's a fucking blast. That is a total success in my book.
Demons has a punk aesthetic that at times remind us of The Return of the Living Dead. Of course, Demons is not openly a comedy and the aesthetics displayed is not so cartoonish. Demons wants to be taken seriously most of the time so that its, supposedly, unintentional humor works.
What's Your Rating For Demons (1985)?
With Demons, director Lamberto Bava made it clear that he learned a lot about how to set a horror story from his father Mario. The shots have great beauty, also driven by the cinematography of Gianlorenzo Battaglia. Considering also the self-imposed limited location (a movie theater and its hallways), the merit is greater.
The makeup has all the artisan glory of the Italian horror of the 70s and 80s. The deaths aren't very creative (except in the climactic scene), but Bava compensates with funny theatrical characters and absurd dialogues.
Claudio Simonetti's soundtrack sometimes reminds us of the synth "talent" displayed by Ross on the TV show Friends (google it!), but his main theme is kitsch enough to be easily remembered. The soundtrack also includes a nice punk and metal selection that includes great songs by Billy Idol, Saxon, and Mötley Crüe, among others.
If everything else fails, Demons deserves our love for the simple fact of that memorable climactic scene in which George, our wannabe-Ash, decapitates demons with a katana while masterfully driving a motorcycle inside the movie theater, with heavy metal band Accept scoring the sequence.
These are the precious moments that should make us thank the existence of the seventh art.
You should also watch the sequel Demons 2. It's not that original, but it's probably greater fun.
Release Year: 1985
Director(s): Lamberto Bava
Writer(s): Dardano Sacchetti, Dario Argento
Actors: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards