The Cult Class Collection

Demons (1985)

Starring: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Paola Cozzo, Geretta Giancarlo, Bobby Rhodes

Directed by: Lamberto Bava

Rating: 1 2 3

Things go badly wrong in Lamberto Bava's Demons

Due to my inability to stay awake much past midnight, I missed the showing of Lamberto Bava's 1985 pulp classic Demons at Dead by Dawn this year. So when the Cameo decided to show it a few weeks later, well, it would have been rude not to.

Produced by Dario Argento, it bears all the lurid hallmarks of the master: a sinister setting, terrible actors who can't really speak English, a nonsensical narrative and of course lashings of gooey gore. Hooray! Best of all, it thunders to the unmistakeable pounding synths of Claudio Simonetti, the evil overlord of '80s horror soundtracks, interspersed with some cracking tracks from the likes of Mötley Cruë, Saxon and, er, Billy Idol. What's not to like?

The plot, such as it is, points towards the meta-horror of the '90s, albeit in a completely cack-handed, 'hey guys, let's split up' kinda way. Music students Cheryl and Kathy decide to skip class to attend a free screening at a mysterious, run-down, Art Deco cinema called the Metropole, seemingly undeterred by the building's dark, brooding edifice, which is every bit as menacing as the Black Bramford or Overlook Hotel. Joining them are two young chaps who fancy their chances, a sappy snogging couple, a creepy old blind guy and his adulterous wife, a moustachioed blaxploitation badass dude and a bunch of other faceless monster-fodder folk we care even less about.

The eponymous Demons

But things quickly go pear-shaped when the plot of the horror film on screen (in which a sinister mask turns teenagers into slavering demons) spills out into the auditorium. It's life imitating art, violence begetting violence, video nasties gone viral… or just a fun-filled feast of pointy teeth, gnarly nails, bloodshot, boggling eyes and bucketloads of green, yoghurty, Evil Dead-style gunk. Yeeha!

Yes, it's a very silly film. But as a slice of pure '80s horror culture, preserved in snot-green aspic like a ghastly museum piece, it's up there with The Lost Boys and Gremlins. So crank up your ghetto blaster and drag out the VHS: Demons is back, and it rocks like a poodle-permed, spandex-wearing metal freakazoid. Ooh yeah!

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