Fresh On Blu Ray: DEMONS 1&2 serve up some bloody good Halloween Leftovers

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James Clay/Film Critic

DEMONS 1&2

Rated R: 90, 92 minutes

Directed by: Lamberto Bava

DEMONS 1&2 are available now on 4K from MVD Entertainment Group and other major online retailers.

The best thing a famous artist can do in whatever medium they are working within is to help get more eyes on the projects and creatives they admire. As far as horror films are concerned, the Italian maestro Dario Argento made it his mission to boost up the filmmakers around him by putting his name on projects as executive producer. We see this all the time in modern cinema with Martin Scorsese, James Gunn, or Brad Pitt.

Teaming with Lamberto Bava (son of the legend Mario Bava), they created the world of DEMONS. The chronology of the films gets a bit chaotic, but in this crisp 4K set from Synapse films, the first two films in the series are included. The truth is they feel like one movie, so get cozy and make it a double feature.

DEMONS 1 sets the scene at a dingy theater where a diverse group of moviegoers is tempted to attend the screening by a creepy gold masked man. Fans of the genre will recognize director Michele Soavi who went on to direct THE CHURCH THE SECT) out giving out tickets. There’s Cheryl (Natasha Hovey), who fatefully asks for two tickets so she can bring a friend. Tony The Pimp (Bobby Rhodes) is there with a couple of sex workers under his employ, a few couples including the young horny couples, and the feuding middle-aged duo who barely make it out of the first act.

DEMONS 1 is an especially meta film about the love of going to the movies where anything can happen. As our characters watch, the spooky film unfolds and becomes one with the screen. Argento and Bava want life to imitate their art, and before long, the audience is fending off creatures. Who, of course, want to feast on their flesh. On the special features, these films are called “pizza schlock” which is just perfect.

Bava isn’t directing a finely tuned plot with nuanced character development. Still, he and Argento do a great job quickly introducing the audience to the environment and archetypes with a robust soundtrack in tow. Big 80s pop acts including Billy Idio, Motley Crew, and Go West drench the frame before and after the bloody show.

A Demon Child Haunts the Halls of Demons 2

This year, DEMONS 1 is in my favorite physical media releases and the best-looking 4K discs to hit the market. Not only does the music and image look better than any catalog releases from big studios it’s loaded with special features.

The films themselves are identical, with Bava only switching the locations, from a movie theater to an apartment building. It’s easy to get lost within DEMONS 1 & 2 as Bava rarely takes a break from the carnage, and while that can get monotonous, he engages the audience every few scenes with a memorable set-piece. There are no spoilers, but get ready for a disgusting mirror shot, a demon dog, and a killer 12-year-old “bursting” with energy.

DEMONS 1 & 2 are of the best Italian horror films for my money. Coming in just under 90 minutes with a propulsive plot and groovy needle drops, these two companion films should be on your yearly Halloween watchlist.

Film Grade: B+

A swath of Demons search for a quick meal

RENT/BUY: Truth is DEMONS is on Shudder, and Joe Bob Briggs did a great episode on the lineage of the film several years ago. However, the 4K disc adds a physical component that cannot be matched and it comes with great retro and new special features.

Each disc comes with a visual essay produced by Arrow Video; DEMONS contains a nearly 30-minute essay with film critic Michael Mackenzie discussing Argento’s career as a producer. This is where fans can get down into the fibers of why they fell in love with Argento. The essay is edited smoothly and Mackenzie makes a great host showing the audiences different points in Argento’s career through his underseen works.

DEMONS 2’s visual essay dives into the locations and technology of the sequel from film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. This essay breaks down the gore and how space was utilized in the films to understand why both of these films are so purely entertaining.

Also on the discs are loads and loads of interviews from the film’s creators dissecting every possible angle of DEMONS 1 & 2. This is one of Synapse Films’ most major releases of the year, and it did not disappoint one bit, I mean bite.

Audio/Video Grade: A

About author

James C. Clay

James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.