Demons 2 (1986)

Lamberto Bava, Dario Argento, and the demons may be back, but it’s just not quite the same this go around. For lack of a better term, I have sort of a love-hate relationship with Demons 2. On the one hand it successfully taps into the style, make-up, and mayhem of the original; but on the other hand it has almost none of the gore or bite that made that film so much fun. What should have been a crazy sequel set in the apocalyptic world we were left with at the end of Demons, ends up being a fairly tame rehash of virtually the same story with even less of a plot (if you can believe that). There are still some things to like here, but it definitely feels as if the filmmakers just wanted to quickly churn out whatever they could to ride the success of the first film.

The set up takes far longer than it should for how little it matters. This time instead of a movie theater, the action takes place in an apartment building where the tenants are all going about their normal business. A young girl is having dinner with her parents, a young boy is left home alone, an expectant couple talk about their day, a bipolar woman flips out at her birthday party, and a group of muscle men led by Bobby Rhodes (who’s back in a different role) are hitting the weights. Most of these people are connected by the fact that they’re watching what seems to be a bad PBS re-enactment of the events following the first film. They’re glued to the screen as the survivors inadvertently revive one of the demons and are chased down one by one. The unstable birthday girl, who has locked herself in her bedroom, seems to be especially terrified, so perhaps the TV demon sees this as an opportunity when (in one of the best effects shots of the movie) he walks straight through her screen and into the “real” world. The already awkward party quickly goes from bad to worse and the chaos soon spreads throughout the building.

If you remember how the first film played out then you have a good idea of what’s going to happen here. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but the people are even dumber this time around and they’ve doubled the excessive shrieks and screams to keep up with the extra stupidity. The excellent gore is noticeably absent this time around, instead we get longer shots of snarling demons approaching their victims with all of the attacks taking place off camera. How is that a fair trade? I suppose the make-up is an improvement, but it seems like such a waste if you’re not going to do something with it. I found myself almost completely disinterested in the people trying to make it out alive and even more disappointed that their deaths weren’t the least bit gruesome.

It was nice to see the filmmakers had the balls to turn a kid into a demon and into a mean little bastard at that. I really wish they would have gone through with their original plan to have Hannah’s baby turn into a demon and claw it’s way out of her stomach, instead of the happier alternative. That would have helped take it that extra step and given it a little more edge. As it stands, the only thing making this a worthwhile effort are the visuals. The film is filled with stylish set pieces and it has more than enough of Bava’s signature shots with the glowy-eyed creatures walking slowly through the long shadows and mist. Although, there’s not a whole lot that fancy sets and lighting can do for a film that tries to copy its predecessor but forgets to carry over all the cool bits.

Grade: C

 

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