Tonight's movie was Demons (1985), a collaboration from Italian horrormeisters Dario Argento (co-writer) and Lamberto Bava (co-writer, director). Like most Italian horror, the plot is secondary to the gore and needn't make much sense. Here we've got a movie that delivers the gross by the bucketful, along with a fine, driving mid-80s soundtrack and some genuine scares.
A man wearing a strange half-mask hands out invitations to the opening of a new movie theatre. The crowd consists of the usual types you'd see at a theatre: college students, young couples, old couples, and umm...a blind guy. There's some props set up in the theatre lobby- a dirtbike, a sword, and an evil-looking mask. Rick James looky-likey Rosemary (Geretta Giancarlo) puts on the mask for a laugh and when she takes it off, the inside of the mask cuts her cheek- and it won't stop bleeding. That's what she gets for horsing around.
When the lights go down, the audience is treated to a horror movie. On the screen, we watch as two young couples explore the grounds of an old, spooky cemetery. They discover the tomb of Nostradamus and some of his writings, foretelling demons who will walk the earth as instruments of evil: "They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs". They also find a mask that looks just like the one Rosemary tried on in the lobby. Eyaahhhh! A character puts it on, gets a cut on his cheek, and is soon transformed into a bloodthirsty demon- guess what's gonna happen to Rosemary? Yup- events in the theatre mirror events on the screen! In the ladies room, Rosemary undergoes a hideous transformation which includes popping boils and alot of liquids coming out of various places on her face. Get scratched or bitten by a demon, and you become one, and soon enough the theatre is overrun. The gore throughout is unbelievable and stomach turning, whether it's torn flesh, popping sores, oozing liquids, a demon bursting through someone's back, teeth falling out as they're repaced by fangs...you name it, it's here and it's really, really gross.The audience members that remain human can't get out of the theatre- the doors they came in earlier are now, somehow, just fakes, and the entrances are all bricked up. But fear not! For a group of punks, all coked up and on the run from the cops, find a way INTO the theatre- and thus the demons find a way out. Our two survivors George and Cheryl (Urbano Barberini and Natasha Hovey) don't need to search for a way out, however. They're saved by a deus ex machina in the form of a helicopter that suddenly crashes through the roof, landing in the theatre. Conveniently, it also has a grappling gun and winch, which George and Cheryl use to hoist themselves onto the roof to safety.
The entire city has already been overrun by the demons, though, so their only hope is to get out of town...
The film was Dario Argento's attempt at finding success on American shores, as is evidenced by the soundtrack featuring Billy Idol, Motley Crue, Accept, and err...Go West. If you can deal with the gore (and MAN there's alot of it), Demons is a fun, sometimes scary movie. The demons themselves can be frightening, along the lines of Cheryl in Evil Dead- but alot more wet. The shots of them (and their eerie glowing eyes) emerging from the darkness are fantastic- these monsters are like Romero zombies on crack. There's even a few quieter sequences that are quite effective- like the scene with the two teens trying to escape through an air vent, only to hear the scratching of a demon's nails as it comes up behind them. If you prefer over-the-top effects and action to a coherent plot, give it a try...on an empty stomach. I give it 6 out of 10 strings of mint green demon drool.