Blu-ray Review: Demons 1 & 2 [4K UHD] | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, January 25th, 2022  

Demons 1 & 2 [4K UHD]

Studio: Synapse Films

Dec 03, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

If you’ve never seen a dude jump a motorcycle over rows of movie theater seats, zipping up and down the aisles as his new girlfriend hangs on for dear life and he hacks at zombies while “Fast as a Shark” by ‘80s metal b-listers Accept blares on the soundtrack, well… you must not have seen Lamberto Bava’s Demons (1985) yet. The movie’s just as wild as that sounds – and we’ve only described just one scene!

Demons follows a group of moviegoers who’ve been invited to a mysterious film premiere at the spooky Metropol theater (the same Berlin cinema where scenes from The Apple and Wings of Desire both filmed). They sit down for what has all the appearances of a horror b-movie, but it becomes quickly apparent that the movie is acting as some sort of demonic portal into the real world. When one poor spectator gruesomely turns into a zombie-like demon with neon-green blood and glowing eyes, all hell breaks loose: anyone bitten or scratched by one of the monsters is doomed to become one of them in less than an hour’s time. Worse yet, the horrified victims seem to be trapped inside the theater by a supernatural outside force.

Although it’s called Demons, it mostly operates as a zombie flick—a particularly claustrophobic one given its setting inside a single-screen cinema. There’s little hope for the cast of over-the-top stereotypes, who are picked off one after another in the increasingly gruesome manners that fans would hope for from Italian horror films. It’s all set to a blaring soundtrack of ‘80s hard rock and metal that includes Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” Motley Crue, Go West, and Saxon, plus a conventional score by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti.

Demons is giddy, delirious horror movie fun.

Directed by Lamberto Bava, son of Mario, and produced by Dario Argento, Demons certainly wears the influence of the latter—not just in references to his movies hanging in poster form in the theater’s lobby, but in its theatrical kills and dramatic use of color. As Synapse already proved with their semi-recent 4K UHD release of Argento’s famed Suspiria (1977), HDR was invented specifically for the purpose of viewing Italian horror movies. While Demons take it to the same level as Argento’s masterpiece, its high-contrast lighting and color look downright eye-popping in HDR: the monsters’ glowing neon blood appears positively luminescent, and the famous moment where a horde of zombies—with their bright yellow eyes—spills up a stairwell is the type of shot this home media format was made for. The movie perhaps hasn’t looked as good as it does in this 4K restoration in, well… maybe ever? The HDR truly makes a difference.

Synapse’s limited edition set also includes the sequel, Demons 2, which was made and released by Bava and crew almost immediately after its predecessor. Opinions vary on how it compares to the first film, with some fans putting it on even ground. The second movie pulls off the colossal feat of making far less sense than the pretty nonsensical Demons, which in our view knocks it out of the “hands-down classic” category we’d place the original movie in. Yet, Demons 2 still provides a wild, wacky, and quite gory blast of fun in the way that Italians just did better than anyone else, which more than makes it worth watching.

Demons 2 flits through a wide cast of characters living in a pretty classy apartment building, in a world where the apocalypse depicted in the first film actually happened. Somehow, humanity survived seemingly little worse for wear—the movie’s not 100% clear on why—with the demons trapped behind a wall that no one’s meant to cross over. Almost everyone in the building is watching some sort of TV documentary show about the demons, full of dramatic re-enactments which may or may not be really happening. Anyway, the demons pop out of this movie just like they did in the first one, and bite, claw, and tear their way through the endless supply of victims trapped with them inside the building, most of whom only seem to find out there’s a demon invasion going on when it’s already too late.

The sequel captures a very similar flavor to the original movie, but good luck trying to make sense of why anything’s happening. If you’re able to ignore any need for logic, it makes for a fun—if lower-tier—follow-up.

As far as the release goes, we can easily say that this is the definitive version of these two films. Not only do they look unbelievably good in 4K with HDR, but the extras included here seem to go on and on forever. There are multiple versions of the first film and multiple audio tracks for both; visual essays and audio commentaries; interviews with the filmmakers and crew; a poster, reversible artwork, and prop reproductions. Demons has never looked this good, and will likely never receive a release this robust again. It’s well, well, well worth the investment for any Italian horror fan.



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