Monday, October 27, 2008

demons [1985]

in order to reach a broader market, particularly the u.s. market, italian maestro dario argento tapped the son of the great filmmaker mario bava to create a horror film that would appeal to international sensibilities. by that bailiwick lamberto bava succeeded in crafting a fast-paced, linear story, gore-fest with a soundtrack adrenalized by that pox of mid to late '80s cerebellum emulsifiers, u.s. heavy metal, which again tips the hat to argento in knowing how to market a film to a particular audience.

the ass-suckiness of the soundtrack does not detract from the film is a credit to bava who learned the art of spaghetti celluloid from conception. however, that does not mean the movie is a masterpiece. not on your life. there are so many holes in the plot you could drive arnie schwarzenegger's fleet of hummers thru it. the plot is this: two young women skip a class after they receive free tickets to an unnamed movie premiering at berlin's beautifully sterile metropol theater. the film they see involves a group of young people who open the grave of nostradamus and find a book which unleashes demons upon the earth. the twist is the action of the movie presages the horrors that are unfolding in the theater. demons are unleashed in the real world as the patrons of the movie become either possessed or a victim, and often both. this meta-fiction works only so far as the movie onscreen is soon given up as the gore heats up in the theater.

and there is plenty of the wet stuff. after watching this flick i felt i needed to go outside and scrape the muck off my shoes and pants. and then take a shower. but as for being scary, well, nada for the fear. there is no character development at all. i couldn't give a shit what happened to the protagonists as confusing as the movie became. the two young women meet two young men and during the course of their fight for survival there is a sub-story of four hooligans who are all coked-up and driving thru berlin in a stolen vehicle. when they ditch the car after being chased by the police they enter thru a door that just happens to open for them. guess where they end up. that's right, the metropol, where they then become victims of the demons and then turn into demons who are then chasing our four young movie-goers.

perhaps bava and argento, with the film-within-a-film and its victims-cum-survivors trapped in a movie theater, attempted to describe the horror-genre audience who often seem to regress into the cliches of scary movies. certainly nothing is more terrifying than rabid fandom. but that would be too easy a target and after all this movie lacks any kind of ironic posturing that was so vivid in wes craven's stock of horror movie cliches explored in his scream pictures. rather, bava and argento have given us a straight-up gut-muncher. i should feel guilty for enjoying this movie but i don't. but if there is a hell i don't think it is populated by demons such as these. no way. for hell would be an eternity of listening to '80s metal bands like saxon and motley crue.


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