Having thoroughly enjoyed the first installment of this series, and having heard that the sequel is pretty much as good [in fact, is pretty much the same movie], I had it in reserve for those special moments when you need to see people ripped apart and know that it’s not going to disappoint.
We begin with this awesome 80s rock over the credits. This time there’s a credit saying it features music by The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, etc. We finish the credits, finding out that Asia Argento is in this movie, then the music suddenly STOPS—like someone hit the stop button—and we have this voice-over talking about demons, etc.
We now see a bunch of bloody-lookin’ gloop and gobs, and soon find out they are being baked into cakes. I can’t tell if someone actually baked blood into the cakes, or if it’s just a bunch of berry juice meant to suggest blood. I would guess the latter, since the cakes don’t have to do with anything. Then a bunch of people start coming to this building, some of them residents, some of them for this girl Sally’s birthday party. What’s clear is that collectively, they represent a glorious cavalcade of mid-80s fashion and hairstyles—from ITALY. Woah-ho! It’s amazing. I even had to get up out of my chair to find out exactly what year this hails from. It is 1986—AND HOW.
In here we find out that this is an ultra-modern high-rise, circa 1986, and that there are glitches in its electrical system. We see some folks get in the elevator, including a woman who’s afraid of elevators, and a pregnant woman exercising. When her husband comes in she completely ignores him and his salutations until he comes up right behind her and asks “What are you doing?” “Just giving oxygen to our baby,” she responds, which he replies to with a curt “That’s great.” Then downstairs, in the on-site GYM, the black pimp who died in Demons is here, as a different, more scantily-clad character. That’s fine with me; continuity, schmontinuity.
So meanwhile, Sally won’t come out of her room because she’s having a HYSTERICAL EPISODE over the dress she has picked out for the event. While this is going on, seemingly everyone in the apartment building is watching a documentary on TV about the events of the first Demons movie, which is either nonsensically intercut with another, dramatic movie on the same topic, or the two movies are showing at the same time on different channels—can’t be sure which.
In the movie, there are these teenagers who sneak into this abandoned ruin of… something, which is where the demons all rampaged before. I don’t think it’s the theater from the first film. A good moment is when one of the teens picks up a demon claw with his bare hands, drops it into a ziploc bag and then says that the claws spread the contagion. Oh, so just handle it with impunity, then! There’s also a good moment when they’re lurking around the menacing-but-artfully-lit ruin, find a preserved demon laying on the ground, then say “There’s no danger!” So they want a group picture to commemorate their demon-finding adventure, but one of the girls has a cut, the blood from which just happens to go right into the dried-up demon’s mouth. There’s an endearingly basic special effect where they have made a demon head out of thin plastic, and slowly inflate it in order to simulate his return to vitality. Once again, OUR point of view begins to enter the movie, and for a while we’re cutting back and forth as though the movie were actually happening. Also again, the events of the movie begin to merge with the events taking place at the party—although just in a coincidental way, not in a way that has to do with the demons entering the world, as in the first movie. Here, Sally is alone in her room watching, and a demon comes up to the screen and starts to do that Videodrome effect where he pushes out against the screen, finally entering the room and biting Sally. This is a huge downgrade in sense-making from the first film, but we’ll go with it: what else can we do? Sally, whose acting skills have been permanently damaged by—well, who knows what?—adopts the approach of many, many people in this movie, which is to stand perfectly still in terror, giving whatever approaching danger there may be time to compose itself. Anyway, she’s slashed, and we all know that means she’ll be a demon within a few minutes.
So it would seem that Sally’s “friends” don’t even notice that she’s not at her own birthday party, and are all lighting the candles and laughing and having a grand ol’ time without her. Then she does come out, and leans over the table, growling and whimpering, while again her friends—standing within two feet and staring right at her—don’t seem to find anything amiss and go right on with their excited reveling. It seems that Sally needs to find some friends who are more responsive to her shifting moods, but then again, after her hysterical shit-fit about how horrible she looks, maybe her friends have just learned to ignore anything she does and just keep acting happy.
SPOILERS > > >
Sally’s friends do seem to wake up when her fingernails split and grow huge claws from within, and when her pointy new fangs push out the rest of her teeth. They’re all dispatched in a matter of moments. Meanwhile, in a new development from the first film, demon blood is now acidic [it took seven years for Alien to reach Italy?] and eats down through the many floors of the apartment building. Derivative, yes, but still a good effect. Soon it hits some electrical system, as it inevitably must, and power to the super high-tech building goes out.
This means, of course, that all the doors now lock, and everyone is trapped inside. This film hails from that brief period in the 80s where super high-tech apartment buildings were considered a threat [see Poltergeist III], while also serving as a potent metaphor for man’s foolish wish for some indefinable feeling of “security”—and how elusive that can be. Mmm-hmm, ain’t it the truth. Anyway, so the blood is dripping down through the building. Among my favorite moments in the entire movie is when a guy greets his neighbor across the hall and says, in a calm but concerned manner, “There’s blood dripping from the ceiling. I touched it. It burns,” then displays his disfigured hand, the first third of each of his fingers eaten clear down to the bone. Hmm, me, I might be a little more upset than that. I would also be seeking medical attention, but this guy seems to treat it like mere band-aid material. Meanwhile, this other woman’s dog has wandered into the room with the blood dripping. She goes in, and stands perfectly still for a full 50 seconds [I counted] as the dog’s teeth come out, and its snout pulls far back to birth a repulsive demon head from its mouth. Finally the woman thinks to run. It’s hilarious because even if she doesn’t know what’s happening to poor Fluffy, it’s obvious something REALLY BAD is happening to poor Fluffy, and the animal may need to be contained.
I often reflect on how long I would just stand there in stunned silence if one day I came in with a change of water or a new chew toy, only to find my bunny's head splitting apart and a slimy new head, arrayed with multiple fangs, emerging as the animal made high-pitched wheezing sounds. Much as I love her, I think she'd be out the window pretty quick, but who of us can judge how we might really act in such a situation? Anyway, I found the demon dog attack pretty freaky, and we suddenly cut to the door of Sally's apartment opening and demons streaming out—this movie's got a rhythm!
Now way back when there was a unrelated couple sharing an elevator together, including a blonde woman in a HIDEOUSLY 80s outfit [not unlike Olivia Newton-John's Delmonte Fruit Cup ensemble, visible here]. They were introduced so long ago—like before Sally's party even started—that they've apparently been in this elevator for 90 minutes already. Anyway, they're trapped between floors in the elevator, and the woman, who hates elevators, is going hysterical and shrieking, and needs to be slapped, although the dude doesn't do it. I often wish someone around me would go hysterical so I could justifiably slap the living shit out of them. Anyway, they see the demons running by, and it's actually a fairly clever irony as they're yelling "We're in here!" to the demons, desperate to get out of the elevator, when in fact that is one of the few places in the building where they are pretty safe.
Meanwhile, downstairs in the health club, the demons are finally streaming in, leading to the humorous sight of oiled men in shorts and women in leotards fighting off demons. Upstairs, some 8yo boy wanders around stupidly, then begs in his scared kiddie voice to be let into the apartment of the pregnant woman. When she opens the door, he's a demon! You might be shocked that this movie would allow an 8yo kid to be a demon… well, then you'll probably be REALLY shocked when his belly splits open and a little demon baby is born out of it! Then follows a quite comical scene between the pregnant woman and the demon baby, as she whacks it and punches it and it keeps coming back for more. Finally she folds it up in the Murphy bed, and pours some sort of acid on it and it seems to be dead. The woman is looking quite satisfied with herself when the bed abruptly pops open and the things jumps on her neck. It's hilarious, like a twisted Bugs Bunny cartoon, and the movie is maintaining its comic pacing.
Downstairs the hot black dude from the first Demons gets his genitals ripped off by a demon, then Asia Argento at about 9 watches her father be ripped apart, before her cries of "Papa!" cause the demons to come over and menace her. Okay, is there something weird about Dario Argento casting his daughter in a move where she watches her father be brutally murdered? Just asking.
So back with the pregnant woman, who apparently finally fought off that baby, is rescued by her husband, and they rappel down the outside of the building, then the woman lies right down on the floor and has her baby—as generic 80s rock music plays—then a demon comes out to attack but just abruptly dies for some reason—are we meant to understand that all the demons just die off?—and the final shot husband and wife happily walking away from the ordeal, as though they just enjoyed a taste-tempting dinner in one of Italy's finest restaurants. The end! < < < SPOILERS END
I liked it. I was expecting diminished returns after the original, and was a little let down by the weakness of the device to bring the demons into the world—in the original the movie they're watching and what's happening in reality come into sync and release the demons, whereas here the movie matches reality in one small part that seems like and afterthought, and the demons just come in through the TV, which is pretty dumb. But the movie makes up for it with the cleverness and humor of the attacks in the second half. First of all is the 80s satire of a wish for security and perfect health, then the irony of the people safe in the elevator pleading to be let out, then the hilarious scene of the pregnant woman's fight with the baby—and just the additional resonance of a pregnant woman having to fight on monstrous baby. So the movie is out to show you a good time that repeats the fun of the first movie while adding additional touches that keep you interested. So it's a good time at the movies!
Watch the first one first, but if you liked that, throw this on your list and save it for when you want to see something you know will be a good time. Now I have to look into parts 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…. As I think there were a considerable many.
DEMONS is the first one and quite a bit of fun.