Horror Movie Review: Demons (1985)


When I’m asked about horror movies that actually scared me when I was growing up Demons is almost always one of the movies I’m quick to point at. Even watching it now I still find it has a certain power over me even if I can enjoy it for the 80’s cheese it piles on high.

The story goes like this…Cheryl (a young student) is chased through a deserted subway station by a strange masked man. She escapes & meets her friend only for them both to run into the man, he hands them a ticket to a free screening at a newly renovated cinema down-town.

Later they attend the screening amongst a wide range of characters from all walks of life including a pimp & his working-girls. Before they take their seats one of the prostitutes tries on a demonic mask that’s part of a display, the inside of which makes a small cut on her face.

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The movie begins inside & showcases a group of teens exploring an old graveyard, finding & digging up the supposed coffin of Nostradamus. Inside there is no body but there is a book & the same mask that was in the lobby display. One of the teens tries on the mask & gets a scratch exactly like the prostitute earlier. It causes him to turn into a demonic creature & start attacking his friends. The prostitute feeling unwell goes to the bathroom where-upon her cut spews out pus & she transforms into a demon. She then sets about killing the cinema-goers & transforming them into demons as well.

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A handful of survivors that include Cheryl & her friend band together to try & escape the infested cinema.

Sounds great right? It is all that & more so long as you’re willing to look beyond some glaringly bad acting, terrible effects & cheesy dialogue. Make no mistake this is an Italian 80’s horror movie that needed a lot of dubbing (badly done & obvious) & may never have made it across the shores if it wasn’t for a small time distributor.

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One of the best things about Demons is just how terrifying the Demons are…the transformation scenes are outstanding as finger nails break off to be replaced by claws & teeth fall out in extremely gory up close camera shots. Certain more visible Demons get the better end of the make-up bargain but they all suffer from the obvious contact lenses issue. It’s easy to over-look especially thanks to one of the most iconic scenes ever…

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How scary is that shit?

Plot wise the film really doesn’t make a lot of sense & it doesn’t really try to explain itself much. A sub-plot occurring outside confuses things more (and may leave you feeling a wee bit disturbed by the look of one actor – she seems young!) & by time we reach the finale who knows what the hell is going on anymore.

…but it doesn’t matter because it’s been such a thrill ride up to this point!

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Incredibly gory at times, Demons is not for those who can’t stomach the sight of blood…and pus…and teeth falling out…and ripped skin….and eye-gouging…and more blood.

All of this is backed up with an absolutely killer soundtrack full of classic 80’s rock, metal & punk. It fits the movie perfectly & rarely feels out of place.

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When people say they don’t make horror movies like this anymore they mean it. In some ways its a relic of a time when horror was more about gore while in another its a reminder of just how good horror can be when it stops trying to be so pretentious. Demons is a classic in every sense of the word & still manages to look great almost 30 years later.


Demons
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    The Final Score - 9/10
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