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La maschera del demonio (1989)



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Cast overview:
Giovanni Guidelli ...
Debora Caprioglio ...
Sabina (as Debora Kinski)
Mary Sellers ...
Alessandra Bonarotta
Laura Devoti
Michele Soavi ...
Stefano Molinari
Ron Williams
Eva Grimaldi ...


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Release Date:

5 April 1992 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Demons 5: The Devil's Veil  »

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Remake of Black Sunday (1960) See more »

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Not So Much A Remake As An Homage, Maybe
9 November 2006 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

There is a mistaken impression that Lamberto Bava's LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO aka "Demons 5: Devil's Veil" from 1989 is a remake of his father Mario Bava's pivotal LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO aka "Black Sunday" from 1960. Not quite, though the two do share the same basic story premise of a cruelly executed witch exacting her revenge from beyond the grave. Sadly, the younger Bava's film has never been translated into English and the only way to see it is on Italian language home video releases.

A group of five or six or seven friends go skiing in the Alps and get trapped in a crevasse cave-in that uncovers the long frozen tomb of a heretic executed eons before for practicing blasphemy after a Demon's Mask was nailed onto it's head (an actual form of Inquisitional torture, by the way). One of them decides it would be a really good idea to chip the hideous Ozzy like mask free of it's ice and take it home as a memento of the occasion, unleashing a series of events that finds the coed group of tight ski panted friends trapped by a second cave-in, and forced to take refuge in an ancient monastery or something like that, long buried by the arctic snows and ices.

So much so good, except then plot takes over and my grasp of Italian extends to various kinds of pastas & sauces. There are plot intrigues galore that I can only guess on: The long dead body of an Inquisitional priest is resurrected, various members of the ski troupe are possessed by demons unleashed by the freeing of the mask, various breasts are bared and assorted people find themselves tortured, falling in love, or skewered by giant falling icicles. Meanwhile the soul of the heretic embarks on a mission to (I guess) avenge and resurrect herself using the body of one of the pretty Italian actresses -- who just happens to have the same surname -- and induct the surviving skiers into her coven of the undead.

If that sounds like a busy movie, it is. It's essentially Italian Gothic shocker formulas updated to the late 1980s and with a teen to college aged audience in mind. A fellow commenter pointed out the Lovecraft angle and yes, I can totally see that going on here too. I liked the underground monastery or whatever, loved the topless Italian actresses sweating on the torture racks, and was impressed by a stop motion animation sequence where an architectural gargoyle comes to life (way before CGI effects, which would have ruined the film's hands-on feel). The film ultimately owes as much to Fulci, Stuart Gordon and THE NAME OF THE ROSE as it does to Bava the Elder's film, mixing ecclesiastical pyrotechnics with disco neon new wave makeup -- and yet it still works even if you don't speak a word of Italian.

But it's NOT an update of "Black Sunday"; Lamberto should at least be credited to giving a nod to his father's breakthrough movie without necessarily defaming the memory. Nothing wrong with borrowing a little bit of thunder from your old man, and no it has absolutely nothing to do with the movies called DEMONS 4 or DEMONS 6, other than being released as yet another cash-in on the success of Lamberto's DEMONS, which marked the high point of the modern Italian horror craze. Like father, like son.

7/10; Try to find a 99 minute Japanese made video release, the cover is absolutely wild too.

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