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Demons 1 & 2

Demons (October 11/07)

Though infused with several expectedly (and appreciatively) brutal instances of gore, Demons comes up short in terms of its various other attributes - with the film's performances, dialogue, and storyline all suffering from an unmistakable vibe of incompetence. Director Lamberto Bava - working from a script co-written with Dario Argento and Franco Ferrini - admittedly does a nice job of peppering the proceedings with stylish visuals, but the filmmaker's inability to offer up any intriguing elements (blood and guts stuff aside) proves to be disastrous. Set almost entirely within the confines of an elaborate movie theater, Demons follows a cast of entirely underdeveloped characters as they're individually transformed into demonic creatures; the bulk of the film follows the survivors as they attempt to find a way out of the building while avoiding contact with the increasingly nasty monsters. There's ultimately little doubt that Demons has been designed to be viewed amongst as large and as rowdy a crowd as possible, as the film - stripped of the laughter and applause that typically accompanies such a screening - can't help but come off as a woefully uneven piece of work that has little to offer casual horror fans. This is despite the inclusion of several awfully impressive gore sequences, which are as over-the-top and gleefully violent as one might've hoped (the campy vibe is undoubtedly cemented by the presence of several stereotypical horror-movie characters, including the jive-talking, switchblade-toting black dude). And while the apocalyptic finale is probably more interesting than anything that precedes it, Demons is simply unable to hold the viewer's interest for more than a few minutes at a time.

out of

Demons 2 (October 11/07)

Less a sequel and more a remake, Demons 2 immediately establishes itself as an even less interesting piece of work than its mediocre predecessor - with the film's surprising (and disappointing) lack of gore certainly playing a substantial role in its undeniable downfall. Director Lamberto Bava's decision to ape the structure of the original - right down to the inclusion of several identical subplots - proves to be disastrous, as there are ultimately few surprises to be had throughout the film's sluggish running time. This air of familiarity extends even to the casting, with Bobby Rhodes once again playing a tough, jive-talking black dude (the most notable difference being his use of a shotgun rather than a switch-blade as a primary weapon). The movie - which follows a diverse selection of characters as they're forced to combat blood-thirsty demons within a locked-down apartment building - has been packed with numerous special-effects shots of hapless characters transforming into toothy monsters, yet there's simply no overlooking the lamentable shortage of demon-on-human violence (considering the amount of blood and guts on display in the first film, Bava's newfound squeamish sensibilities are nothing short of baffling). There's consequently little doubt that Demons 2 will leave fans of the original scratching their heads, although - admittedly - the transformation sequences (of which there are many) are impressively grotesque.

out of

About the DVDs: Anchor Bay presents both Demons and Demons 2 with anamorphically-enhanced transfers, and the films have also been armed with a commentary track each and trailers.
© David Nusair