Demons (1985)

Today’s flavor is just too juicy to waste time talking about my morning commute or my thoughts on climate change or whatever random bullshit I’d usually spew here. Down in front!

The story: Lovely Cheryl and her happening gal pal Cathy are presumably some breed of generic university student, though it’s just as likely they’re flight attendants or sumo wrestlers. Apparently the main characters’ histories aren’t important enough for a half a second of exposition, so we have to guess based on a book Cheryl carries in the opening scene. The book seems to be written in Greek, but the subway platform signs are all in German, so maybe she’s in school to study a foreign language. Here’s a question though: this is an Italian-made movie with an Italian cast and crew, shot in English for American audiences. Why the fuck are we in West Berlin? Absolutely no mention is made as to why this is all going down in Germany, or why everyone there has names like Cheryl and Cathy and Biff and Skippy. “Oh, hey, I’m Chet. Named after Kaiser Von Chetzenschein, of course.”

They’re women. That is all you need to know. (Also, what is that kid doing with his hand? Eeeee.)

These two nifty chicks score some free passes to a mysterious movie screening where they are immediately hit on by a pair of likely studs named George and Ken – common Deutsche nicknames for Georgenschnitzel and Wunderken, I’m sure. Arm in arm, the newly formed foursome kick back to enjoy a horror movie that’s nearly as bad as the one they’re starring in. (The film-within-a-film is about a bunch of horny teenagers hanging out in a cemetery where they casually discover the tomb of Nostradamus, about whom they had coincidentally been talking only moments before. I’ll just let that hang there for a moment.)

You should totally come check it out. There’s a Q&A with the fiendish denizens of the underworld after the show.

Among the colorful cast of characters we have the most racist possible representation of an American style pimp and his two working girls, who sport appropriately hookerish names like Marjorie and Rosemary. Rosemary tries on a weird mask in the lobby and gets infected with some kind of demonic curse disease. She fails to apply Neosporin in time and promptly erupts into a red-eyed demon thing with neon drool and an appetite for corn starch and flesh-colored latex that no amount of shushing can contain.

Special effects by the Halloween section at Spencer Gifts.

Biggest letdown: This movie is regarded by many people as a horror classic, from which I conclude that many people are idiots. I find Dario Argento and his disciples bland beyond words. I have literally no idea why people rave about boring, unintelligible garbage like Suspiria. It must be that I wasn’t introduced to his stuff until the 90s, by which point the buckets-of-red-paint approach to horror was more than dated, it was embarrassing to watch. Bear in mind though, Suspiria came out four full years after The Exorcist. That movie still freaks me out but Argento’s canon generally makes me scratch my head and yawn. I’m reluctant to blame it on the quirks of spaghetti cinema. There are plenty of older imports that maintain some semblance of natural dialogue despite the language barrier and blatant disregard for accurate dubbing. Yet here we have a supposed horror maestro basically making pretentious grindhouse splatter porn. Thanks but no.

Why does a movie theater need a root cellar? Anyone?

The letdown is that I thought because Demons was produced by Argento but directed by someone else (Lamberto Benigni Lasagna or something) maybe Argento’s undeniable talent for crafting graphic, wince-inducing scenes would be put to good use and his utter disdain for plot and structure might be tempered by a calmer hand at the wheel. WRONGZO. Giglio Provolone or whoever was just some 30-year-old B-unit director Argento hired to oversee pesky details like the script and actors so he could focus on smoke effects and dousing starlets in fake vomit.

Just your typical assortment of Berliners.

Why you should watch: Fuckin’ right, 80s style! Even Dario can’t kill the nostalgia I feel for the filmmaking era in which I grew up. Synth drums and breakbeats behind every action sequence, punk rock hair, cocaine and mustaches, oh my! I feel for the generation of horror nerds who came of age in the late 90s and 2000s. Their educations revolved around soulless shit like Hostel and the Saw movies, which were gross and fun and all but I can’t imagine anyone getting misty about sneaking into Turistas when they were fifteen.

This guy doesn’t see what’s so special about Dario Argento, either. Okay, I’m going to hell.

Memorable Moment: Why is there a helicopter in the movie theater? No seriously, why is it there. Did it land on the roof and cause it to collapse, or did it just fall out of the sky precisely above the building for no damn reason? And are grappling hook launchers standard equipment on all small commercial aircraft? This must be what taking bath salts feels like.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the only character worth a damn.

Choice quote: “Right, we’ll all go up there together. If we stick together  no one gets hurt.” No lie folks, if you ever find yourself in a horror movie situation, obey the big black pimp. He knows how to manage any game.

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2 Responses to “Demons (1985)”

  1. […] Demons – A classic piece of crap. […]

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