So Bad, They’re Good: Demons

Bored of average zombie-style films? Craving something with a twist of the unexpected? Italy has you covered with Demons, aka Demoni! From its rocking soundtrack to its unexpected cast of characters, including prostitutes, a blind man, some punks, and a samurai sword-wielding biker, you’re guaranteed a uniquely fun cinematic experience.

Film poster for Demons.

From the moment you read the tagline, “They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs,” you know you’re in for a wild ride.

Demons starts with an audience at a revamped German theatre, enjoying a free film screening. The lobby is decorated with props from the film, including a mysterious mask. The free screening is about a group of teenagers who stumble upon a demonic mask in an old cathedral, setting off a chain reaction of terror.

Life soon mimics the ‘art’ on screen as Rosemary, one of the prostitutes, puts on the prop mask in the lobby and things take a sinister turn as it scratches her face.

A woman holding a silver demon mask to her face.

As the demonic epidemic spreads from the screen to the audience, reminiscent of a zombie outbreak, viewers are treated to a terrifying spectacle. But, unlike the usual shuffling around looking for brains zombies, people are turned into a terrifying, ruthless monster with some impressive talons.

Amidst the chaos, characters like college students Cheryl and Kathy take centre stage, their struggle for survival driving the narrative forward. But, of course they’re not alone in this fight for their lives. As well as the characters mentioned in the opening, the smorgasbord of victims includes young lovers and and an older couple, each adding their own flavour to the mayhem unfolding on screen.

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While Demons drips with 80s cheese, it still manages to deliver spine-chilling scares. However, the film’s myriad characters often feel one-dimensional, and the acting (something that happens often in Italian ‘so bad, they’re good’ films) leaves much to be desired, especially with the English dialogue. Yet, Geretta Giancarlo shines as the demonic Rosemary, her manic portrayal injecting a much-needed dose of terror.

A group of scared people looking at something off camera.

The film’s soundtrack, featuring a mix of foreboding new-wave tracks by Claudio Simonetti and 80s rock hits from Billy Idol, Go West, Saxon and Rick Springfield, perfectly complements the on-screen mayhem. Directed by Lamberto Bava, who inherited his father’s (Mario Bava) eye for daring and imaginative storytelling, and boasting lush cinematography by Gianlorenzo Battaglia, Demons is a visual feast, albeit with occasional plot inconsistencies.

Despite its flaws, Demons offers plenty of memorable moments, from the image of an injured girl mirroring the actress’s death scene on-screen and demons themselves as terrifying silhouettes with bright red eyes. While some special effects may feel dated, the film’s relentless gore and unabashed anarchy ensure a thrilling ride for horror enthusiasts. The most impressive result is a demon birthed out of a human’s back, but that is pretty much all we see of that creature. The film is a rollercoaster ride in madness and anarchy, which is great fun.

A woman with demonic eyes and blood in her mouth.

In the realm of ‘so bad, they’re good’ films, Demons firmly establishes itself as a cult classic. While it may not be a cinematic masterpiece, its unabashed commitment to entertaining audiences with its absurdity is commendable.

Approaching its 40th anniversary, Demons remains a visually striking and immensely enjoyable experience, perfect for group viewings and late-night scares. It has been one of the biggest hits amongst my friends during one of my infamous film nights So, if you’re in the mood for a dose of campy horror with a side of heavy metal, look no further than Demons. It’s a devilishly good time.

We’ll survive if we all just stick together!

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