Wednesday, June 2, 2010

DEMONS 2: The Nightmare Returns

(Lamberto Bava, 1986)
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Finally, a sequel that's almost as good as the first! That's not to say Demons 2 doesn't have its shortcomings, though. It's one of the first Italian horror flicks I saw on VHS when I was a kid, and not long after it was released. It stuck with me for quite some time. Anyway, the story...
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Sally (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni) is having a very special birthday party. Her parents have left for the night, and all of her obnoxious friends have come to celebrate. Sally, however, is not having much fun - her dress is just horrible, so she sits in her room watching a horror program on TV! All of her neighbors are tuned in to the same program, which we find out by a rather stylish sequence in which we pan across the building room by room. I loved the clever juxtaposition in the introduction of all the main characters, especially the pan from the room with the John and his whore to the kitchen of a family sitting down to dinner. Yes, that's a young Asia Argento at the dinner table!
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The program follows a group of young folk who sneak into a "forbidden zone", presumably a demon-infested area from the first movie that was walled off. One girl cuts herself accidentally and, before you know it, her blood revives the withered corpse of a demon. And a rather ungrateful demon, at that! He's alive no more than a minute when he decides to go tear a strip off one of the girls! He then turns his attention to the camera, comes out of Sallys TV, and infects her. Then, in the most memorable and oddly beautiful scene in Demons 2, Sally (still in human guise) saunters out of her bedroom, a thin black shape against the backlighting seen through the candles on her cake. Her transformation is disgusting (albeit a little fake), and she makes short work of her guests... who then get up and terrorize the other tenants in the building, which has mysteriously become locked up and inescapable. Just like in Demons.
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The demons here seem to have even greater demonic abilities than in the first. They can still lock doors at will and can now make glass unbreakable! Their blood is now selectively corrosive, and they can infect children and even dogs. They can even manipulate electricity, apparently, as lights in their vicinity tend to strobe. Oh yeah, and they carry trampolines around with them and are expert rope climbers (up AND down!)
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The rest of the film follows the other tenants, most of which become demons at one point or another. There's the aforementioned John and the hooker; there's George, a physics student, and his pregnant wife Hannah. We have a wholesome family, an alcoholic spinster, a gym full of meatheads, the security guard, and others too numerous to mention. I fear the writers may have been trying to make commentary on bad parenting as, not only is Sally home alone, there's also a little boy left home alone in the dark. He's not too bright either; when the phone rings, he answers "No, daddy's not here...neither is mommy...I'm alone." I won't go on with the story; you're either squirming to see this, have seen it, or have already navigated away from this page, in which case I hope your firstborn child is a an asthmatic ginger.
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How about a short summary?
TERRIBLY bad dubbing and dialogue, even by Italian horror standards.
Incredibly fake demon puppet whose scenes are unconvincing and last far too long.
Some serious lapses in logic... like when someone tries to throw a flowerpot at a window that wouldn't break for a metal pipe.
ANOTHER pointless subplot about a bunch of joyriding teens (who crash and don't even get into the building in this one!)
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A stylish production. The setting, a large, dark, fortress-like apartment with very high ceilings, creates a sense of claustrophobia. The lighting and camerawork are also spectacular. Lamberto can even make cakes and pastries look creepy!
The soundtrack. A blend of 80s alternative music with songs from The Smiths, Peter Murphy, and Art of Noise, as well as some haunting minimal synth from The Producers and Simon Boswell.
The gore - there's lots here.
The cheese value - anyone can watch this and get a laugh (if they aren't being all serious about it like I!) It's a classic for a reason.
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Buy It

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