After more than a quarter of a century since the release of both Demons and its sequel Demons 2 (or Demoni and Demoni 2 to use the original Italian-language names) they have finally been released on special edition DVD and Blu-ray. Fully restored and remastered straight from the original prints the releases are available via Arrow Video, who make it their mission to highlight and celebrate cult films by giving them special home releases.
For those who are fans of the films already then this is your chance to experience them in a far superior format – with dramatically improved picture and sound. By nature of the time and budget of when they were made then they didn’t look pristine to begin with, but you’ll be glad to hear the restoration is very good, or as good as you can get from such movies.
The first Demons is the superior of the two mainly because of its killer premise: A group of people are invited by a mysterious masked stranger to a special movie screening. They think they are safe sitting in their seats because, after all, it’s just movie, right? Wrong. Suddenly all hell breaks loose when the world of the demons on-screen becomes a reality within the cinema when one of the patron gets infected and transforms into one of the monsters. The survivors of the initial onslaught then have to battle the demons and try to escape to the building which unbeknownst to them has been barricaded.
I smell a remake…
Demons definitely sits as part of the schlocky horror movies the ’80s was famous for, with all the hammy acting and ridiculousness that goes along with that. But where Demons stands head and shoulders above a lot of other similar movies is in the make-up effects and the sheer sense of “hyper-terror” it conveys. Created by Sergio Stivaletti, the make-up effects – with the exception of a few details here and there – are truly fantastic in their goriness and absolutely stand the test of time. They’re the kind of effects that are horrifying but at the same time you can’t help but stare at them – whether it be a man getting his throat ripped open or one of the demons grotesquely transforming, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by the craftsmanship on display.
The plot of Demons 2 switches from the cinema to a simple apartment building (much less of a hook), and this time the world of the demons transcends out of a regular TV screen and into the normal lives of an unsuspecting group of residents and party-goers.
Demons 2 isn’t quite at the level of the first one, suffering from a more generic storyline, and if anything the ridiculousness hurts the film where it didn’t the first time around. However, the impressive make-up effects are still to be found here and this time around things are stepped up a notch in that department. One sequence in particular involves a demon climbing out of the TV as a mesmerized woman stares on and it’s quite a sight to behold, let me tell you. Apparently it was done with practical effects and if that’s true then it’s even more impressive because of how much it emulates CGI.
The main attraction for fans of the movies with this release, out with actually watching the movies themselves, is the fact that you get a comic book entitled Demons 3, a different format sequel/prequel to the first two movies.
It is the 16th Century, the time of the plague in Southern France. Amid the carnage, a new evil is starting to take form and only Nostradamus can see it. Are his horrifying visions of the future signs of what will come to pass? Can he stop the demons from taking over the world? Demons 3 is an all-new epic tale of demonic decapitation written by Stefan Hutchinson and Barry Keating, with artwork by Jeff Zornow and Peter Fielding.
As an extra bonus on top of the Demons 3 comic you also get interchangeable cover artwork for both movies which is a nice touch for the avid collectors out there.
Demons DVD Extra Features
- Audio recollections of director Lamberto Bava, Special Make-Up Creations Artist Sergio Stivaletti and Journalist Loris Curci
- Audio recollections of the cast and crew, a brand new commentary 
- Dario’s Demon Days: Producer Dario Argento discusses the inception of Demons
- Defining an Era in Music: Composer Claudio Simonetti on the Demons Soundtrack
- Luigi Cozzi’s Top Italian Terrors: Cozzi discusses the highpoints of Spaghetti Splatter
Demons 2 DVD Extra Features
- The audio recollections of director Lamberto Bava, Mechanical Creations & Transformation Artist Sergio Stivaletti and Journalist Loris Curci
- Creating Creature Carnage: Extensive Interview with makeup man Sergio Stivaletti
- Bava to Bava: Luigi Cozzi tracks the history of the Italian horror film; from Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava to the end of the golden age with Michele Soavi and Lamberto Bava as well as considering recent Italian horror films.
The interviews are mainly your generic talking heads style with footage spliced in between. While the various related folks discussing the movies in retrospect is interesting, it nonetheless would have been nice to get some more in-depth making of stuff, particular in relation to the special make-up effects. To be fair such footage may not even exist but something more than just talking heads interviews would have added a bit more to an otherwise great double release.
As a double-bill of over-the-top ’80s horror you’d be hard pressed to find a more fun schlocky ride. Whether you’re a long-time fan looking to revisit or you’re a newcomer looking to experience them for the first time, this re-release offers the best possible opportunity while adding some solid extras to back it up.
Demons & Demons 2 are available now separately on DVD and Blu-ray as well as part of a Steelbook combo pack. Order from Amazon.