Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Demons 2
You look great, Sally. Honest.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret today. There’s a golden rule of Italian Horror that I really should pay more attention to. It is as follows: a director’s last film is only his worst until he releases his next one. However, me being me, I completely forgot about this, and after finishing Lamberto Bava’s Demons, I noticed that the sequel was available to watch on Lovefilm. The first one was a plotless pot of insanity that threw a bravura amount of gore and mess at the screen, and as a result, I quite enjoyed it. Yes, there was a typically hamfisted message about movies rotting your brain or some such drivel, but it didn’t really matter. Still, Argento co-wrote this one, so it should be an improvement in the plot department from the original, surely? I mean this should be easy- fix the things that didn’t work (mostly the writing), and keep doing what you did with the things that do work.
Sadly, as is often the way, they fucked it up. Not a complete write off, and there’s enough here to get the film up to the dizzying heights of mediocre, but really, this should have been easy. Carry on from the end of the first film, and let’s have a post-apocalyptic man v monster effort. Throw the claret around, cast some good looking cannon fodder, add some titties, and we’re away to the fucking races. Unfortunately, that isn’t what happens, and I’m at a complete loss as to why you would follow the route they took. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
This time around, Bava clearly has delusions of grandeur, so wants to make some kind of statement about the pernicious influence of television. Yes, you did read that correctly. Instead of the cinema setting that was so effective in the first film, Demons 2 takes place in an Apartment block (I can already feel the boredom rising even writing that sentence). It’s Sally’s (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni)birthday party and she’ll cry if she wants to. Locking herself away from her guests, she flicks on the television, only to see a documentary on the events of the first film taking place. Next thing you know, in a stunning Videodrome style effect, she’s been possessed by angry demon monsters. Running into the main room, she slaughters the entire lot of them, thereby infecting her guests and creating the angry demon horde. She then, in an act of blazing unsubtlety, stands there and the black bile that infected her from the TV pours out of her skin and drips through the apartment building infecting various other people, including a kid and a dog. In the meantime, Hannah (Nancy Brilli) is up the duff and waiting for her husband George (David Edwin Knight) to come home. The film follows her, a hilarious group of douchebags in the gym, and George as they attempt to survive the night.
Again, this film is almost totally plotless. The three major strands of the story are all narrative light. Unfortunately, they aren’t particularly interesting either. Hannah in particular comes off as more than a touch aggravating, as her total inability to kill a demon that’s a fraction of her size despite being in an apartment with plenty of easily fashioned weapons was something I found hugely frustrating. It’s, actually, a bit fucking tedious watching her flap around in various modes of failure, and I began to resent her time on screen. This isn’t, I have to say, the actress’ fault; it’s Bava’s, as he didn’t give her a credible threat to be dealing with, and mini-Demon does not, frankly, cut the mustard on this front.
As boring as that section is, the other two are dramatically more entertaining. George is a no-nonsense kind of guy, and is more than happy to take whatever he can get to whatever demon is stupid enough to come up against him. Knight is quite good in the part, and does kick no small degree of ass. However, he isn’t a patch on the gym monkeys, who are absolutely fucking hilarious. Bava has them all wearing ludicrous 80’s-style gym stuff, including the women in ridiculously tight and revealing leotards (it’s a mystery, and more than a pity that he did, how he managed to restrain himself from unleashing some titties, actually). Their various battles with the insurmountable horde are frankly hilarious, particularly the dimwitted garage scene which had me howling with laughter.
If you’re going to do a plotless film, then you have to make up for it in other ways. One of the strengths of the original was that the effects were all practical and for the most part utterly spectacular. Here, for the most part, they’re equally good, with the TV sequence in particular being stand-out brilliant. Coupled with Bava’s penchant for gore, this should be a winner. Except it isn’t, and I don’t know why. Sometime between the two films he lost his mind and thought that demon kid would be a good idea. Needless to say, it isn’t. However, even worse is the frankly risible Demon Dog, which is so fucking awful that it actively angered me. Luckily it isn’t in the film that much, but it seriously undid a lot of the good will earned by Sally, who is a spectacular movie monster.
One of the other great strengths of the first film was the cheese heavy soundtrack. However, again, I can only presume he lost his mind between films, because instead of the 80’s hair metal that populated the first film, for some reason he went for mostly British New Wave/ Misery artist acts. I’m watching a stupid, plotless film about an angry Demon horde terrorising an apartment block, do I really, and I mean really, want to hear overrated angst-merchants The Smiths on the soundtrack? No, do I bollocks, I want something loud. By loud, I mean that there are certain bands that no matter how low the volume you play them at can be described as loud- for example, Van Halen. On the other end of the spectrum, there are bands that no matter how loudly you pump the volume up (all the way to 11) you can only ever describe them as quiet- Belle and Sebastian are a good example. The Smiths, are not a loud band. Neither are the Cure. So why the fuck are both of them on the soundtrack? Bollocks to that.
While it lacks the random insanity of the first film, it is a far more polished effort. However, it also feels, and this is definitely to the film’s detriment, a whole lot more mean spirited. When you start infecting children and loveable family pets with Demonitis then you’re pushing the line of acceptability. I genuinely think this was a bad idea, and made a whole lot worse by having what can only be described as a half-arsed Gremlins rip off explode from the belly of the child. I suppose this was done to spare the audience the sight of a pregnant woman beating up a kid, but really, Bava, this is a horribly bad idea. It doesn’t help either that the Gremlin is a frankly crap effect.
Overall, this is a slightly negative review, but it’s not a bad film. It’s just a totally meh one. I can’t summon up any enthusiasm for it, and the entire section with Hannah in the apartment is just such a total waste of time. However, against that, whole sections of it are fun, and there is plenty a chuckle to be had. So, I’m not sure I recommend it, although it does, funnily enough, work quite well as part of a beer-soaked double bill with it’s vastly superior original. Basically, I’m totally meh about this one, and can’t summon up the energy to either laud it or slaughter it.
I’m not sure what to go for next, because I’ve got a fair old whack backed up, so until then,