Essays · Movies

31 Days of Horror: Demons 2

By  · Published on October 26th, 2010

When the calendar page turns to October, we Rejects have only one thought: horror. To celebrate this grandest and darkest of months, we’ll cover one excellent horror film a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 31 Films perfect for viewing on a dark, chilly, October night. If you, like us, love horror and Halloween, give us a Hell Yeah and keep coming every day this month for a new dose of adrenaline.

Synopsis: Today is Sally’s birthday, and she’s throwing a raging party. No, I’m not confused. Despite that setup and the similar-sounding titles, this is not Night of the Demons. Sally lives in a massive high-rise apartment building and while she throws tantrum after tantrum in front of her guests, many of the other residents are riveted by a film airing on television. It is the sequel to a horror film whose premiere was…memorable to say the least. But slowly it becomes apparent that an evil presence in the sequel is influencing the realities of the apartment-dwellers just as the one in its predecessor turned a theater full of regular folks into flesh-eating monsters.

Killer Scene: In the tradition of great horror sequels, Demons 2 recognizes what tropes established the original and found ways to both incorporate them into the sequel and improve upon them. In the case of Demons/Demons 2, the main defining element is the meta movie-within-a-movie scenario. In the original film, it was the sole reason for the gathering of all the eventual victims; the premier of that cursed movie.

The fact that the catalyst to the events in Demons 2 is the sequel to that movie is playing on late-night TV is a stroke of genius. The best utilization of this concept is when the demon in the film-within-the-film comes through the TV and attacks Sally. The effects used are impressive as the demon bends the screen of the television in a demonstration of the planes of existence being similarly warped.

Kill Sheet

Violence: This is an Italian zombie film (of sorts) so you would be wise to expect a high volume of sloppy, goopy deaths. This expectation is especially apt if you’ve seen Demons. However, in comparison to the original, Demons 2 is sort of tame. Granted, there are a few delightfully disgusting moments (the creature bursting through the child-demon’s chest comes to mind), but overall it just doesn’t have the same tenacious, visceral bloodletting spirit of the first. Most of the killing is done quickly, cleanly, and involving far less fake blood and guts.

Sex: None. The closest we get to nudity is that some of the female survivors, having been interrupted mid workout by the demon horde, are sporting tight leotards. But seriously, that only makes them 80’s hot.

Scares: The transformation scenes are still pretty creepy, and this time a dog and a small child get into the act as well. I’ve always found tall, somewhat vacant buildings to be laden with both heebies and jeebies anyway so adding in marauding hordes of monsters certainly elevates that effect. I also think the Sally demon is played with such frenzied ferocity that her every appearance on screen is effectively unsettling.

Final Thoughts: I honestly think Demons 2 is just as much fun as Demons. What is interesting about it, and makes it a bit of a paradox, is that it focuses less on violence than did the original and more on the filmmaking. I’m not necessarily arguing that Demons 2 is a “good” film, but there is an attempt at a level of quality demonstrated that far outshines its predecessor. The characters are more well-rounded and we get to know them better before they become monsters. The action scenes, while not stellar, are at least ingenious and use the set pieces well. I also think the ending is far more integrated into the rest of the film then was the dues ex machina helicopter in the first.

For those of you who read my Junkfood Cinema entry on Demons, than you know that director Lamberto Bava pulls a Sergio Leone and has actors from the first film return to the sequel as different characters; handy, as their characters in the original perished. Bobby Rhodes comes back as a too-macho-to-be-wearing-that-outfit exercise coach and his propensity for leadership is even stronger in Demons 2. Not that she was in the first, but keep an eye out for the little brunette girl in the film; that’s Asia freaking Argento!

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Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.