Demons was a fast-moving, gore-laden zombie romp that remains an eighties Italian horror favourite; within a year the team responsible for that film – director Lamberto Bava, producer Dario Argento and effects whiz Sergio Stivaletti – had returned with this less fondly remembered sequel.
The action is moved from a cinema to a high-rise block of flats; a documentary in which a team of archaeologists explore the ruins of the city besieged by demons in the first film is showing on TV. As the team are attacked by a resurrected demon, the creature forces its way out of a TV set and into the real world, infecting the unlucky residents of the building and transforming them into murderous fanged creatures.
Logic is off the menu here – even compared to the not exactly sense-filled original film – but Bava wastes little time in having his first victim (whinging birthday girl Sally) attack the kids attending her party, who then begin to spread the deadly demonic contagion throughout the apartment block. Much of this plays out like a camp comedy – unintentionally perhaps, but there are some hilarious scenes. My favourite involves a team of body builders and aerobics girls, whose gym session is interrupted by the slavering zombies – these greased-up meatheads fight off the demons with dumbbells while their drill sergeant instructor (Bobby Rhodes, who played the jive-talkin’ pimp in Demons) barks orders at them. And for no reason other than the mid-eighties popularity of films like Gremlins and Critters, Bava throws in a stupid-looking rubbery beastie that bursts inexplicably from the chest of a demonic kid and chases the film’s pregnant heroine around her living room in utterly unscary style. Other ‘highlights’ include the cinema’s cleanest birth sequence and a bizarrely redundant subplot about a gang of punks on their way to Sally’s party.
Demons 2 is very tame and half-hearted in comparison with its predecessor. The explicit gore has been replaced by lame gloop and a few bite-marks, and there’s not a single character you care about. And although the lighting and camerawork are still pretty good, quite how it took four people to cobble together the idiotic screenplay remains a mystery. Even the music has suffered, with eighties miserablists The Smiths and Dead Can Dance replacing the jolly metal of the first film, and Simon Boswell delivering a tedious synth score not a patch on Claudio Simonetti’s throbbing main Demons theme. Not completely unentertaining, but largely pointless.
Italian director/producer and son of legendary horror auteur Mario Bava. Began working as an assistant to his father on productions such as Planet of the Vampires and Baron Blood, and co-wrote Mario's final film Shock. Made his directing debut in 1980 with the effective chiller Macabre, which were followed by exploitation favourites A Blade in the Dark, Blastfighter, Delirium and two gore-laden Demons movies, both produced by Dario Argento. Bava's subsequent work has largely been for Italian TV, his last theatrical film being 1991's duff Body Puzzle.