Demons (1985)

With a pounding heavy metal score accented by a phenomenal opening track from Dario Argento’s band Goblin, DEMONS grips from the onset and never stops, despite a paper- thin plot that appears as if the filmmakers made it up as they went along. As far as campy genre films go, this one is near the top. I don’t consider this a B-movie however, as the production is smooth if not polished and the special effects are very well done. Some of the dubbing is atrocious and the acting is way over the top, but the characters are rich and well cast, and this colorful feature has entertained me greatly many a late night.

The capricious nature of this film and its absence of levity call to mind the lighthearted works of John Carpenter (the throbbing keyboard of the aforementioned title track borrows Carpenter’s trademark sound). Carpenter also introduces complex characters with little or no background information or explanation: Stevie Wayne, Adrienne Barbeau’s character in THE FOG, obviously has a marked past but the only allusions to such are glances at old newspaper clippings and her deadpan utterance “It’s nothing but water Stevie, but it sure beats Chicago.” The delivery and structure of the dialog here possesses similar elan: the filmmakers seem to embrace that their work is fiction, celebrating the comical and inane. Characters are killed off with reckless abandon without sentimental moments or glib last words…In this type of film it’s not about how long you live, but how well you die!

This lack of pretension creates a freedom to enjoy without conceit, appreciable by viewer as well as production staff. This is integral to the success of many genre films that must compensate for light substance with abundances of style. DEMONS carves its niche in my heart largely with 80’s pop culture and stereotypes. The actors here play caricatures more than real human roles. Halfway through the film we see coked up punks cruising Berlin in stolen cars. What needs to be said about them that isn’t readily seen? They’re all demon fodder anyway, right?