Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Horror Thoughts ‘13—Demons (1985) ***

UR, 88 min.
Director: Lamberto Bava
Writers: Dario Argento, Dardano Sacchetti, Lamberto Bava, Franco Ferrini
Starring: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Fiore Argento, Fabiola Toledo, Nicoletta Elmi, Stelio Candelli, Nicole Tessier, Geretta Giancarlo, Bobby Rhodes, Guido Baldi, Bettina Ciampolini

Speaking of b-horror movies… Sometimes they’re bad, but they’re also good. For some reason, horror maestro Dario Argento didn’t feel like directing his script for the movie “Demons”, so he passed the directing duties off to his long time second unit director Lamberto Bava, who comes to the Italian horror tradition with his own family history as son of the legendary director Mario Bava, known for such classics as “Bloody Sunday”, “A Bay of Blood”, and “Danger: Diabolik”.

“Demons” doesn’t strive for the sophistication of most of Argento’s work, so I suppose that’s why Bava got the helming duties. It’s a simple story about a group of strangers who get invitations to see a free private screening of a movie. The movie depicts an ancient relic, which unleashes a plague of zombie-like demons on the world. When some of the movie patrons begin to disappear it becomes apparent that the film is meant more as prophecy than entertainment. Soon the missing patrons show up again as zombified demons intent on turning the others, who find themselves locked in the theater with no means of escape.

It’s certainly an acquired taste, but there’s something about the brash nature of this movie that just appealed to me as a horror aficionado. There’s no great message to be found here. There certainly isn’t any great, or even good, acting. The zombies ooze green slime from their mouths, not unlike that stuff on Nickelodeon. It’s not so much scary as it is disturbing and fun. More fun than disturbing, though. I love it when the filmmakers try to trick the audience into thinking something innocent is going on, but then it turns out somebody is turning into a zombie, which couldn’t be more obvious if they flashed a title card across the screen telling you that this person is really turning into a zombie. Little of what happens makes much logical sense in terms of storytelling, but that’s part of its charm.

Netflix didn’t think I was going to like this movie based on my past ratings of similar movies. I was happy to find their computer algorithm was wrong. This isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s one of those smile inducing little gems that I so love to discover during Horrorfest.

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