Friday, November 26, 2010


(Umberto Lenzi, 1991)
College kids Kevin (Keith Van Hoven), his girlfriend Jessica (Sonia Curtis) and her brother Dick (Joe Balogh) are in Brazil researching the rites of Macumba/ black magic. After getting lost and running into an old blind man and his assistant, Dick is invited to a ceremony that night. He records the procession, is given an amulet by the old man, and imbibes fresh chicken blood, whereupon he faints and is somehow taken back to his hotel room.
The following day, our three adventurers take off into the jungle. Their vehicle breaks down, but they are rescued by Jose and his girlfriend Sonia, owners of a nearby plantation house where they live with their maid Maria. They are invited to stay the night, much to the chagrin of Maria, who takes an instant disliking to Dick and his amulet.
That night, after everyone has fallen asleep, Dick, obviously possessed or in a trance, wanders out to the graveyard on the property where he proceeds to play back the Macumba recording and raises the corpses of 6 African slaves who were tortured and buried there. It seems that once risen, the slaves will not rest again until they have killed 6 white people. Yet again, more political incorrectness on behalf of Mr Lenzi!
Black Demons is an all-Lenzi affair replete with his trademark skulls, spiders, gouged eyeballs, random explosions, and perky-nippled girls who scream far better than they run. The film itself looks, sounds, and feels like it might have been made in 1981, despite the 1991 release date. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as most late 80s Italian horror films look really bright and washed out, whereas Black Demons makes great use of light and shadow.
As with any Umberto Lenzi film, Black Demons is bogged down by some long, talky stretches and the usual hammy acting. I actually found the non-white cast members far more convincing in their roles than the protagonists (zombies included). That aside, the film does contain some genuinely creepy aspects, such as the faint rattle of chains that hint at the slaves' approach. The zombie slaves are very ghoulish and effective, if a little well-preserved given their age. My prime complaint here is that, despite the heavy amount of gore, the death scenes are few and far-between. It's a dreadfully slow film. I'd only recommend this to Lenzi completists, not the uninitiated. Buy it here.

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