Before you delve into this review, be sure to take a look at the rest of the Halloween marathon!
My own personal journey through giallo over the years has been less successful than I would have liked, to say the least.
Starting off where most would with Dario Argento’s Suspiria I was blown away by the use of colour, inventive kills and the brilliant score by Goblin. However, I was let down by the film overall. The film was, and still is, regarded as a masterpiece and I just couldn’t see why, but I knew that it was an important piece of filmmaking. Hoping to appreciate it, I rewatched it two more times and still didn’t get the hype. Since then I’ve encountered one or two other giallo movies and found my experience to be much the same – blown away by everything that makes a film giallo but let down by the end result.
That is where Lamberto Bava steps in.
Making a list of horror movies available to me (via streaming sites such as Shudder, Amazon Prime and Netflix) before my October horror movie marathon began I placed, perhaps Bava’s most famous work, Demons down on the list.
The film follows a plot most horror fans have run through their heads countless times, but one that has been brought to life by very few films: a horror movie set in a movie theatre. In Bava’s vision a movie theatre that’s overtaken by zombie-like demons.
The outbreak begins when a woman attending the opening night of newly opened movie theatre, Metropol (which frankly is one of the most stunning movie theatres I’ve ever seen, on-screen and off) tries on a prop mask in the lobby. The mask cuts her and soon turns her.
What ensues is a bloodfest soundtracked by some of the 80s finest heavy metal bands and starring flesh-thirsty demons. It’s a pretty gnarly ride.
While the dark lighting of the theatre subdues some giallo trademarks, Bava still does a great job of representing everything one comes to expect from a giallo flick: great use of colour, special effects, music, set pieces, and of course, terrible dubbing.
The setting can cause troubles throughout the film, despite looking so wonderful. The cinema being single screened makes sense in terms of budget but it makes the location very small in scale and causes some points in the film where it feels as though the characters are kept in one part of the cinema for far too long, which in turn affects the pacing.
Characters are also a big problem throughout as most have very little to them, most notably an extremely stereotypical African American character. There’s also a street gang who are focussed on for a large part of the film but they bring literally nothing to it (bar comedic value due to their hilarious method of snorting cocaine out of a Coca Cola can through a straw). Luckily the amount of fun and badass moments Demons produces outweigh the bad and allow the film to remain a great horror movie.
Demons is the first giallo flick I’ve liked as a whole, as well as one of the few movies I’ve actually liked throughout this year’s marathon, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a brilliant movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet, make sure it’s your top priority this Halloween.
Rating = 4/5 flicks