By Ray Schwetz
Demons and Demons 2
Anchor Bay Entertainment. Commentary. Featurette. Trailers.
Lamberto Bava's "Demons," presented by Dario Argento, is one of the most original and gory horror films of the eighties. This is no easy feat. In the decade of "A Nightmare On Elm Street" and "Evil Dead," you couldn't spit without hitting a horror movie. Ah, the good ole days.
The story is simple, classic "Night of the Living Dead" stuff. A group of moviegoers are trapped in a theatre with demons. If the demon bites, scratches, or mauls you beyond recognition, you become a bug-eyed, puss spewing, vein bulging, zit popping demon. Not since the original "Evil Dead" has there been this much multi-colored fluid spewed onscreen. Lamberto Bava?tylish direction perfectly suits the extreme material.
Producer Dario Argento no doubt influenced much of the film (Argento and Bava work on "Demons" like the Italian equivalent of Spielberg and Joe Dante for "Gremlins"), as there are many wonderfully choreographed scenes of violence. A highlight includes a guy riding a motorcycle through the theatre while decapitating demons with a samurai sword!
80's music fans will have a great time as well. The soundtrack includes "We Close Our Eyes" by Go West, "Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol, and music by Motley Crue, and Claudio Simonetti. Good stuff.
"Demons 2," as a film, is a mixed bag. This time the demons pop out of TV sets in an apartment complex to terrorize trapped inhabitants. The dubbing is worse than the original and what seems so fresh and exciting in "Demons," is silly and overdone in the sequel. Highlights include a demon baby and a demon dog!
However, the set up at Sally's birthday party is pretty cool. Also, there's some cool tunes by the Cult ("Rain"), the Smiths ("Panic"), Peter Murphy, and Dead Can Dance.
The DVD presents "Demons 2" uncut for the first time in the US. The added footage is a little more gore, but nothing to write home about.
The video for both films are comparable. Both discs are sharp and the colors are gorgeous. I had a copy of the Japanese laserdiscs that were quite good, but these DVD editions blow them away! There are some slight moments of artifacting (notably in the opening credits), but this is nitpicking. Anchor Bay scores big points here.
The sound is remixed in 5.1 and the results are incredible. Dialogue is hollow sounding (a trademark of Italian horror films), but clear. Rear channels are primarly used when the music gets loud, but there are a few isloated effects. The end result is very good for both discs. Again, Anchor Bay scores majorly.
Commentaries by Lamberto Bava and journalist Louis Curci are on both discs. The track is lively in spots and there is some interesting facts here and there. Not the best commentary I've ever heard, but it's here. There's also some behind the scenes makeup effects footage that's pretty cool.
I also love the way Anchor Bay includes postcard reproductions of the lobby cards or posters inside the front cover. It's much more fun than some of those "collectible booklets" the studios include instead of extras. I'm not naming names, you know who you are. Anchor Bay kicks ass with the extras and includes something tangible for the collector as well.
Argento fans probably already own these DVD's. If you are a fan, and you don't own these, what the hell are you waiting for? Your laserdiscs to rot? Go out and buy them! Do it now!
Seriously, these DVD's are the best the films have ever looked or sounded. The extras are not overwhelming, but they?pretty cool. "Demons" is an example of what Italian horror films can do and the sequel is seriously flawed, but a lot more entertaining than Argento?ater works (i.e. "Phantom of the Opera").
Kudos to Anchor Bay, my favorite DVD company. We worship you! We worship you!