dir. Lamberto Bava
It used to happen with startling regularity. Every month or so movie theaters would be awash in grue. Even before the employees had a chance to clean up the mess, another sadist would come by and splatter the walls with blood. Such was the eighties. Horror directors were not worth their salt if they couldn't make the most use of prosthetic appliances and gallons of red-dyed karo syrup. Logic, continuity, plausibility, intelligent characters, and genuine fright be damned. As long as a cartoonish amount of gore (and tits) was thrown across the screens, asses would be in the seats.
None were more accomplished in this arena than the Italians. Master imitators that they were, they jumped full force onto the Romero living dead band-wagon as soon as Dawn of the Dead struck it rich. Although Italy had a long tradition in this field, and many accomplished Italian gore-meisters had been at their craft for years (Dario Argento, one of Demons' producers), some, such as Mario Bava's son Lamberto Bava, were riding the Dawn of the Dead wave. In his mid-eighties picture Demons, the younger Bava did everything but fellate the American director.
In Demons, a random group of people attends a free screening for a horror flick. While there, a hooker goes and gets herself possessed by a demon (Hey, that's the name of the movie). She then infects others, the demonic possession virus spreads, and clusterfuckery ensues. Aside from riffing freely on the films of George Romero, Bava uses the occasion to test out scads of special effects. Although his movie is a standard zombie- er I'm sorry, demonic outbreak affair, a few moments stand out (the samurai sword wielding, motorcycle riding, zombie- er demon hunter comes to mind).
Most notable, perhaps, is a scene in which an infected theater-goer stumbles behind the screen, pounds on said screen and cries for help. The others in attendance, oblivious to the goings-on behind the screen, continue watching the movie, ignoring the fact that the screen repeatedly bulges out. Some may find the lack of a response from the theater-goers unrealistic, but I can't remember the last time I went to a movie theater and the screen wasn't undulating and crying for help.
Bava was no doubt aware of what he was doing here. Was he reinventing the wheel? Sure as fuck no. He was just giving the audiences what they were clamoring for. Sure he was just regurgitating stuff that others before him created with more imagination and panache, but he delivered the goods. For much the same reason that fifties westerns are so comfortably reassuring, eighties splatter flicks like Demons act as comfort food. Demons is, in every way, run of the mill. With a movie like this, you know exactly what you're going to get. That doesn't make it any less satisfying, of course.