• Demons 2 (Synapse Films)

    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: November, 2013.
    Director: Lamberto Bava
    Cast: David Edwin Knight, Nancy Brilli, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Asia Argento
    Year: 1986
    Purchase From Synapse Films

    The Movie:

    Once again directed by Lamberto Bava, the second Demons film takes the chaos and carnage out of the theater and into a fancy apartment building just as a TV station airs a film in which a group of intrepid teenagers head into a walled off area. Behind these walls are what’s left of the location that was the basis of the first movie, and while they simply want to poke around and look for remnants and maybe take a few photographs, some spilt blood soon awakens the evil that still haunts the grounds.

    As the movie plays out on TV, the inhabitants of the building are all doing their own thing. In one apartment a young woman named Sally (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni) is having a birthday party with her friends. They’re eating cake and dancing around to The Smiths and having a great time. Nearby a pregnant woman named Hannah (Nancy Billi) and her husband George (David Edwin Knight) are relaxing and getting ready for their new arrival. A boy named Tommy (Davide Moretta) watches TV while he waits for his parents to come home while in yet another apartment a woman (Anita Bartolucci) just wants to relax with her dog. A prostitute (Virginia Byrant) services her client (Michele Mirabella) after being let in by the security guard (Lino Salemme) while next door a young woman named Ingrid (Asia Argento) watches TV with her mother and father (Luisa Passega and Antonio Cantafora). If that weren’t enough, on the lower level there’s a gym/fitness club where a trainer named Hank (Bobby Rhodes) is whipping his clients into shape.

    It’s safe to say that this building, equipped with bullet proof glass windows that won’t open, is a pretty busy place. So when a demon comes out of the TV and possesses birthday girl Sally and she attacks a bunch of her guests, things start to spread pretty quickly. Before you know it, the various groups of survivors are doing what they can to make it out of the building alive but soon enough all of the exits are barred and a whole lot of people are turning into otherworldly creatures with a penchant for blood, death and mayhem.

    Just as gooey and gory as the first entry, this one takes some sillier turns and, without wanting to head into spoiler territory, in one scene feels more like a Ghoulies movie (the first Ghoulies came out in 1985) or maybe even a Gremlins knock off than a Demons movie but with that said, this one holds up better than its reputation would have you believe. While it’s not as good as the first picture, it’s very well-paced and Bava does a pretty good job of creating some tension in a few scenes, maximizing the claustrophobic environment that the apartment building setting can provide. There are a few decent action and stunt sequences here, highlighted by a sequence in which a series of demons leap through a roaring fire in front of a door they’re trying to enter in order to catch their prey. It may not be realistic or particularly plausible but it makes for fun popcorn movie style entertainment.

    The cast are fun, the standout once again being Bobby Rhodes. He was great as the pimp in the first movie and here he’s just as good as the fitness trainer, belting out orders to his customers and taking charge like a drill sergeant as he and the survivors wind up trapped in the underground parking garage. He might not have a whole lot of range but he sure is fun to watch. Cataldi-Tassoni as Sally is a little irritating at first but once she turns, she’s good in her part, moving in a way that seems appropriately unnatural and doing a good job with the physicality required of her role. Nancy Billi is good as the pregnant woman seemingly in distress throughout pretty much the entire role and it’s fun to see a young Asia Argento make her acting debut here. Even if all she really does is run around and look terrified, at least she does it well. It’s also amusing to see Lino Salemme, who played Ripper in the first movie, return as a security guard this time around.

    This second film eschews the heavy metal that was used on the soundtrack for the first movie in favor of some (at the time) modern British pop music, so expect to hear The Smiths, Love And Rockets, Peter Murphy and a few others throughout the film. The actual score, composed by Simon Boswell, isn’t as good as Claudio Simonetti’s work on the original film but it suits the trashy eighties vibe that Bava has created for this sequel fittingly enough. Though the film goes for a crazier and more humorous approach than the noticeably darker original, Demons 2, while the lesser of the two pictures, is still a lot of fun.


    Note: In the interests of full disclosure, this review is based on a check disc of a 50GB Blu-ray disc sent from Synapse Films. By all accounts, it should represent finished product. Note that the finished version will include a steelbook package and a DVD version as well.

    Demons 2 arrives on Blu-ray from Synapse Films in “a new HD scan of the original 35mm negative, in 1080p/23.98fps 1.66:1 aspect ratio.” Without getting too technical and out of our element here (see the link below to the Synapse site for a detailed explanation), this movie was shot on a film stock made by Kodak that was discontinued shortly after due to the fact that it resulted in a very dark and grainy picture quality. As such, the picture here is definitely grainier than on the first movie, that’s just how the elements are. Adding to that are a few problematic scenes where the picture shudders and vibrates up and down for a few scenes. This happens four times in the movie and this issue also stems back to the negative. In short, restoring Demons 2 was, by all accounts, a real bitch – but the results once again are noticeable. The colors here look much better than previous releases and the detail is also appreciably better. The color correction that has been done here has resulted in a very nice looking picture. Once again Bava plays with a lot of primary colors throughout the movie but detail and texture stay strong throughout. Black levels are great, shadow detail is impressive and there are no obvious issues with crush, compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction. There’s a little more print damage here than is visible on the first movie, but it’s hardly distracting and all in all, fans of Demons 2 should find a lot to like here.

    Audio options on this disc are provided in English and Italian language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo with removable subtitles available for both tracks in English (meaning you get proper subtitles for the Italian track, not dubtitles). Both tracks sound quite good here, there’s good depth and impressive range. The growls and grunts of the demons in the movie have some good power behind them, the low end is there but it doesn’t get muddy like it could have. Dialogue stays clean and clear and easy to follow and there aren’t any noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion. The levels are nicely balanced on both tracks and the movie sounds very good here in stereo regardless of which option you choose.

    If you’re interested in learning more about what went into the technical side of getting this release right, check out this article on the Synapse website here. It’s a lengthy read but it sheds some interesting light on what went into the video and the audio presentation and the attention to detail required when trying to give a film like this the ‘definitive’ presentation.

    The extras on the disc kick off with the first of five featurettes, the twenty-seven minute A Soundtrack For Splatter: An Interview With Composer Simon Boswell. Here he speaks about how he got involved in the production business in Italy which inevitably lead to him scoring this film after playing live in a band called Livewire that Dario Argento had seen play in Rome. He shares some stories about his thoughts on working with Argento and Bava on the picture, how he was keen on steering Argento and Bava to using ‘a sort of British goth thing’ in place of the heavy metal used in the first Demons film and his thoughts on the movie itself. He also describes the process he had while working on this picture, how it’s important for European pictures not to try too hard to appeal to Americans or English speaking people in general, and how he wound up later working with Richard Stanley on Hardware and Dust Devil and how he was eventually contacted to work on From Dusk Till Dawn, which ‘didn’t work out for a number of reasons.’

    Demonic Influences: Federico Zampaglione Speaks is a ten minute piece in which the writer/director of 2012’s Tulpa - Perdizioni Mortali, who had a cameo in the movie, shares his thoughts on the two Demons movies, seeing the original in a packed theater with a good audience and how he thinks that Lamberto Bava’s personality comes through. He then talks about a project he and Lamberto had discussed in which they would attempt to recreate Mario Bava’s Danger! Diabolik and how they wound up making a parody video with a similar atmosphere. From there he talks about other film projects that he’s been involved with and offers up some commentary as to the quality of the effects work seen in the pictures and more.

    Screaming For A Sequel: The Delirious Legacy Of Demons 2 is a sixteen minute piece in which we hear from Lamberto Bava about the ‘how’ and ‘why of the existence of this second picture. He notes the influence of his father preparing him for life as a filmmaker first by encouraging him to read and then later by other more obvious methods, like having him work on pictures like Planet Of The Vampires. After talking about his father for a bit he discusses the making of this particular picture, noting that Argento said, correctly ‘you don’t change a winning team!’ which is why some of the same people are involved in this film as were involved in the first (though not all of the ones that he wanted are). He talks about using the television as a device in the film, alliances that were formed with Soavi on this and other pictures, and how he would wind up working with Argento and he also discusses his thoughts on The Church (the Soavi film, not the theological institution!) and what he liked about that particular picture.

    The Demons Generation: Roy Bava Discusses A Legacy In Lacerations is a thirty-five minute interview with the assistant director of the film. He speaks about his thoughts on the first movie, expressing his admiration for the use of heavy metal in the first Demons and what he thinks works so well about that film and his experiences working on it, noting that he was fully immersed in the making of that picture. He then talks about the involvement or Argento, the acting in the picture and the visual atmosphere of Berlin at the time that movie was made. From there he talks about Demons 2 and the casting and set decoration that was involved in getting that off and running. He had a more direct involvement with Lamberto this time around, and he note how passionate the effects crew were on this picture. He closes things off by talking about the difficulties of shooting the garage scenes due to the low ceiling, the film industry’s state when this movie was made and how things have changed since then.

    The New Blood Of Italian Horror: Sergio Stivaletti And Michele Soavi – From Demons To Dellamorte Dellamore lets the effects maestro spend sixteen minutes talking about his relationship with the enigmatic Soavi. He starts by talking about the differences in styles between Lamberto and Mario Bava and how Michele Soavi sort of fit into all of this, discussing his work with Argento and noting similarities more specifically to Mario Bava than to Lamberto. He shares some stories about working with him on Demons, his thoughts on Tim Savini’s work in Dawn Of The Dead compared to Soavi’s ideas in Dellamorte Dellamore and how this sort of trickled down into Stagefright and The Church. He then talks about some of the effects set pieces that he was involved in staging, the atmosphere that is so important to Dellamorte Dellamore and how he was able to create a more surreal atmosphere than either Lamberto Bava or Dario Argento. He closes things out by talking about the state of Italian horror cinema now as compared to the era in which these films were made and why it has gone that way.

    The original trailer is also included as are animated menus and chapter selection. All of the extras are presented in high definition.

    The Final Word:

    Demons 2 isn’t as good as the first movie but it’s still a fair bit of fun and much of what made the original picture makes this one work too – impressive makeup effects, great music, quality gore and some nice camerawork. Bava keeps the pace moving quickly and while this gets more than a little bit silly at times, but don’t let that dissuade you, this is a fun ninety minutes. Synapse once again offers the movie up in an impressive HD transfer and rock solid audio with a good selection of extras as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. sukebanboy's Avatar
      sukebanboy -
      We needed more Bobby Rhodes on these extras to make a TRULY perfect release!