The nightmare returns!
Director Lamberto Bava and producer Dario Argento's nasty horror flick Demons was such a hit that it apparently warranted a sequel, 1986's sloppy seconds, Demons 2. Everyone's favorite glowing eyed baddies return, this time to wreck havoc upon a young girl at her birthday party. I can hear the song "It's my party / and I'll cry if I want to" ringing in my ears as I write this. Since this is an Argento-produced film, this means that we get the usual array of '80s pop and rock songs on the soundtrack, including The Cult, The Smiths, Dead Can Dance (how apt, is it not?), and Peter Murphy. Part of their "Dario Argento Collection," Anchor Bay whips up this birthday gift just for you on DVD!
Facts of the Case
At the end of the first Demons movie you'll recall that only two people were able to escape, and the demons were able to get free of the movie theater where the original terror took place (maybe they were showing Problem Child 2).
Now comes the sheer horror that is…Demons 2! This time the evil returns via a TV screen in the apartment of Sally (Coralina Cataldi Tassoni), a whiney brat who is having a birthday party with all her friends. We also get a sneak peek at some of the other tenants in the high-rise building (which is built so strongly you can't break into or out of it), including a small boy, a pregnant woman and her husband, and some folks working out in the building's fitness center.
When Sally sits down to watch some TV (never-minding the fact that there's a birthday party in her honor in the next room), she watches a horror movie about the first Demons movie. Soon an actual demon starts to crawl out of her screen (an impressive effect for 1986), and she becomes everyone's worst nightmare! Suddenly Sally wants to join the party again, and does so with horrific results! Within minutes, everyone is shaking, bleeding, and oozing nastiness as they succumb to Sally's demonic influences.
From here, it's a snowball effect as other tenants in the building fall victim to Sally and her suddenly un-friendly friends. In just a matter of minutes, the demons are running around, turning everyone and everything (even an innocent Benji-like mutt) into bloodthirsty demons!
Will the small band of survivors make it out alive? Will the demons take over? And will Sally ever blow out the damn candles on her birthday cake?
Well, I certainly can say with confidence that Demons 2 was a better movie than its predecessor. This isn't to say that it's by any means a great film, just a much more watchable one. Bava actually comes up with some interesting effects this time around, and some of them are quite eerie. The sequence involving the release of a demon via the TV set is very well done, and very creepy. I'd be curious to see what could have been done with this concept if the production had had a better script and a bigger budget. The demons themselves are effectively scary; their colorfully drooling personalities are like that of the Tasmanian devil, only much wilder. Once again, Bava includes a few scenes where the demons are at full attack, their eyes glowing yellow with piercing screams. It's at this point that the movie transcends what it actually is (re: dung). Unfortunately, this doesn't last long and we're thrust back into the dreary world of Demons 2.
Demons 2 also includes my new favorite line in a horror film. When one panicked tenant asks how to us a fire extinguisher, a large bald headed black man snaps, "You read the instructions!" I was so hoping this character's name in the credits would have been "John Shaft."
Demons 2 is presented in 1.66:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. Like the first film, Demons 2 looks pretty good, though suffers from some darkness and grain. There were a few shots that were very shaky, and some that looked even out-of-focus. Overall, the image was passable with colors looking bright and blacks being mostly solid. The transfer seemed to be a bit below par compared to the original Demons, though it's probably the best widescreen version fans will find.
Audio includes both a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix in English, as well as a Dolby Surround 2.0 track. The remixed 5.1 track is sufficiently creepy, and about as well done as the first film's 5.1 track. Distortion was non-present, and the dialogue, effects and music were all mixed well. Also included is a Dolby Surround 2.0 which is inferior, though passable. No subtitles are included.
Demons 2 skimps a bit in its extra features when compared to the first film, though fans will be excited to see the inclusion of a commentary track by director Lamberto Bava, mechanical creations and transformation artist Sergio Stivaletti and journalist Loris Curci. The track tends to be very technical, discussing many of the effects and concepts in the story. Much of the track was hard for me to understand seeing as everyone speaks with a thick Italian accent. Also included is a non-anamorphic theatrical trailer for Demons 2.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Ah, but Demons 2 also has many shortcomings. First off is an evil Yoda-like demon that emerges from another demon's backside. Judging from the tone of this film, I'd say the makers weren't trying for comedy, which is a shame as this sequence hits it dead on. This little "muppet" runs around screeching like a banshee, yet induces about as much fright in the viewer as, oh, say Don Knotts would in the same role. Then there's the acting. Dear Lord, what the hell was the director saying to these people? "Okay, actors on the set…get ready…overact!" When Sally finds out that a boy is coming to her party that she doesn't want there, she goes insane, screaming and crying as if she just found out her entire extended family just went down in a 747. This is almost equaled by the cheap thrills that are offered, including one tenant hearing scratching at her door. When she goes over and looks through the peephole, her dog jumps up. Okay, I can accept this as a decent scare. However, how did that dog get himself high enough for the character to SEE the dog through the peephole? That's not suspension of disbelief folks, it's decimation of disbelief. Just as in the first film, Demons 2 is hindered greatly by its horrible looping and dubbing. Many lines were off sync sometimes by at least two seconds. What were the filmmakers thinking? From best I can tell, it looks as if the film was originally done in English anyhow, so why do all this horrible dubbing? Sadly, many of Argento's films suffer from this travesty repeatedly.
However, Benji does get possessed by a demon and eats a woman. I suppose that's worth some brownie points.
Demons 2 ends up being slightly better than the first film, though it suffers from many of the same troubles. It's too bad the looping was so atrocious, as synced dialogue would have made things better, if not great. Anchor Bay throws their heart into this release (though an anamorphic transfer is sorely missed), and scores points for doing a fine job on a cheesy sequel. With a remixed Dolby 5.1 track as well as a few extras, Demons fans will be happy with what's placed in front of them. For the rest of us, I can only recommend this as a rental at best.
If this movie were a party dish, it would be a big platter of cheddar cheese. Anchor Bay is acquitted on all charges for putting fine work into poop like this.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Theatrical Trailer
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