Once scratched by the ridiculously large talons of a demon, your imminent change into one of the drooling, snarling monsters is pretty fast – that may go to explain the lightning speed in that a sequel to Lamberto Bava’s super-gruesome Demons managed to manifest itself. Keeping chiefly the same crew (and in some cases even the same cast – but more on that later), Demons 2 isn’t particularly interested in reinventing the wheel, it just wants to change up the treads a little by switching the location from a cinema to a state of the art skyscraper. So prepare yourself for textbook case of a sequel being exactly the same, but juuuust slightly different enough in a way that still honors the day glow coated pus and slime of the kickass original. Demons 2 ends up being on another level while telling the same old storey… ok, that’s the last of the building puns. Promise.
Located in a swanky high-rise, people go about their day to day business as Sally, a spoilt brat-zilla prepares to celebrate her sixteenth birthday will all her friends. As she throws massive fits concerning her dress and other such petty bullshit, neighbours George and Hannah await the birth of their first child and a large assortment of meat-head and hard bodies work out their upsettingly oiled biceps in the on-site gym. Those who aren’t partying or pumping iron however, are glued to their TV sets watching a programme about the anniversary of the Demon attack which is typically vague about whether the events of the first film actually happened or whether the show is dramatised, but it confusingly depicts another bunch of shockingly idiotic teens as they climb into the walled off “forbidden zone” where the infestation supposedly happened. To no one’s surprise, these chuckleheads manage to resurrect one of the toothy walkers by accidentally dripping blood from a cut into it’s mouth (what are the fucking odds, huh?) and after attacking the dumbass kids, pulls an act of fourth-wall breaking that make Deadpool look like a beginner by pushing it’s way out of Sally’s TV set and making the spoilt girl a far bigger annoyance than she ever was. Now a ragged toothed demon with a fetching line in emerald drool, Sally first attacks and infects her friends (like, worst party everrrr) and then displays a brand new talent by leaking out an acidic sweat from her pores that burns down through the different levels, burning out phone lines and electrics and therefore sealing everyone inside. While the majority of the building’s non-demony dwellers hole up in the underground garage and prepare to hold off the dribbling marauders, George attempts to free himself from the lift he found himself trapped in when the power went and try to escape and protect his pregnant wife.
Expect a body count as long as your hideously scratched arm and plenty of unnecessary plot threads that go absolutely nowhere as Demons 2 gets down and does it’s funky stuff while indulging in that loopy lack of logic that makes 80’s Italian horror films so fucking weird….
First things first; it’s obvious right from the word go that Demons 2 turns out to be as original as a damn photocopy, falling over itself at every turn to painfully reference it’s predecessor in any way it can – and yet somehow it emerges from the carnage with it’s own identity. The similarities are literally legion and pretty shameless but instead of feeling like a box ticking exercise, Bava makes things feel fresh simply by never once letting his foot off the accelerator and keeps things moving with it’s own sense of turbo-charged insanity. Both films have the demon virus initially spread by having it leak from a screen of some kind and both also have laughably bland heroes who become weathered demon killers simply by having the sleeves of their shirts tear off to expose their manly biceps. Both films even share a couple of returning actors (playing different roles, of course – virtually everyone is fucking dead at the end of the first one), chief of which is the blessed return of the actor who played the role of the swaggering, jive talking pimp and now plays the swaggering, jive talking role of a fitness guru who leads the survivors in their doomed resistance. Both films also feature a terminally wounded demon randomly shed it’s body to reveal a monstrous inner form; here it’s a nightmarish little demon boy dumps it’s chubby cheeks to become a squeaking, flytrap mouthed goblin that actually looks pretty fucking stupid the second you get a good look at it. But then stupid – in a highly stylish form – is what Demons is all about; how else do you explain the appearance of a “Demon Dog” that brutally savages it’s owner or that the security chains on peoples front doors seem to be a foot long.
One odd thing that stands out among the literally dozens of other odd things that the movie features is that it’s curiously vague about what actually happened at the end of the first movie; the TV show states that humans fought back and walled off the infected cities, but as the programme seems to be a dramatisation screened by fuck knows who, then this could all be made up. No one in the real world outside the TV show seems to bring up this happening before as their torn to shreds, so maybe Demons 1 is only a film and 2 is real life? Or maybe they both happened? After decades of watching the fucking thing I’m genuinely clueless on the matter but I think it’s honestly for the best.
Continuing the tradition in containing inventive gore, catchy music (Does Morrissey even know that The Smith’s “Hang The DJ” is in this?) and being inordinately cruel; it’s noticably strange how a film that’s so derivative manages to preempt more than a couple of future classics. As the movie features a disparate group of characters entombed within a building and fighting to stay alive, perhaps it’s no surprise that both Die Hard and [Rec] both contain scenes that suspiciously resemble those seen in Demons 2 – in fact [Rec]’s stairwell scene is virtually identical – which all adds to the series’ deranged personality.
While certainly weirder than it’s predecessor (the film literally doesn’t seem to have a clue how to end), the first Demons just edges it in terms of quality; but taken together the two make a wonderfully crazy double act and a stunningly violent talon show…