An old Gothic cathedral, built over a mass grave, develops strange powers which trap a number of people inside with ghosts from a 12th Century massacre seeking to resurrect an ancient demon from the bowels of the Earth.
Feodor Chaliapin Jr.
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Art imitating art is the basis of this demonic tale of a group of invited guests who are granted a free lunch in the form of a screening of a horror film that brings naturalism to life. Baited and penned in, this walled-in feeling quickly turns to screams and fear as those who are dead lust after the flesh of those living. The free lunch has turned full circle in the cinema of hell and it is only a question of time before the demons from the abyss are asking for second portions. Written by
Demons is a great roller-coaster ride, from beginning to end!
Demons epitomizes everything the early to mid eighties were about. A lot of things didn't make sense - but neither did the era so it fit in just fine. In the end, it plays out to be a great horror movie, with plenty of gratuitous violence and gore, a killer 80's soundtrack, and a couple of good scares! At the time this movie came out, Italian horror meisters Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava wanted nothing more than to have a hit in the American market. Dario had experienced a taste of that with his collaboration on Dawn of the Dead, but never from a full Italian production. To appeal to American audiences, they went with the soundtrack used here (songs from Billy Idol, Rick Springfield, etc.), and even used some American actors (like Bobby Rhodes who plays the pimp, in even comes back in Demons 2 as a different character).
To add to the hype, they released it to limited distribution (not by choice I'm sure) in the states, unrated (just as "Day of the Dead" had just been released in similar fashion). Back in the 80's, it was real hard for an 11 year old to be allowed in to see an unrated movie, even with a parent (or someone posing as one as in my case!) - nonetheless, I got to see both of these - and although I was disturbed for weeks - I loved every second of Demons.
Years later I have acquired it on a double DVD with Demons 2. I love the original, in all its uncut glory! Knowing more about the production, I get a kick out of the fact that the guy at the beginning giving out the theater tickets (the guy with the mask) was then aspiring filmmaker Michele Soavi, who would just a couple of years later become an Argento protégé with movies like Stagefright, and his own classic Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetary Man). I also get a kick out of how many movies, older than the original Demons, claim to be Demons sequels and have even had name changes. Unfortunately for us fans, there were only two real Demons movies made, the third never saw fruition. Too bad - if a real one ever came out - I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd run out to see it.
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