How to describe the Demons series… It starts out fairly simple. Last year I reviewed Demons, the 1985 Italian horror film directed by Lamberto Bava (Mario Bava’s son) and produced by Dario Argento. Demons 2 is a straightforward, direct sequel to Demons. But next year, oh next year… we’ll get into the treat that is Demons 3 and beyond, which includes numerous movies from numerous directors and none of which are actually connected to the world established in Demons and Demons 2. Look forward to that next year, and the hopefully the following 4 years after that, as I am looking to do a Demons sequel every October for my friends at Robot’s PJs. For this year, however, it’s Demons 2.
When I say that Demons 2 is a direct sequel to Demons, this is a true statement in the most obvious ways, but not necessarily in a narrative sense. The sequel is made by the same director and producer, written by the same team of writers, and clearly shares the same demon aesthetic. From a narrative standpoint, though, it is tough to say if Demons 2 is a sequel or something closer to a remake. The basic plot outline for Demons is that a group of people in a theater watch a movie about a mask that turns people into demons by scratching them. After a filmgoer scratches herself with the “prop” mask in the lobby, mimicking what is happening in the film they are watching, a demon crosses over into the real life action of the theater and chaos erupts. Demons 2 follows almost the exact same plot but with a different setting and different characters. Instead of a movie theater, a high-rise apartment building. Instead of people watching a movie on a big screen, they are watching it on televisions throughout the building. The crux of whether Demons 2 is a true sequel or more of a remake hinges on whether the film the apartment dwellers are watching is a movie or a documentary, and Demons 2 is not at all clear on this.
The film that everyone in the apartment building is watching is built on the premise that the events of Demons took place, that the demon infestation was cordoned off in a successful quarantine of the city, and now, years later, a small group of youngsters are going to sneak into the quarantine-zone to take pictures of the aftermath. What isn’t clear is if this is meant to be a fictional movie, like what was presented as the movie-within-the-movie from Demons. If this is the case, then the events of Demons are considered fictional and the film that everyone is watching is a sequel to the events of Demons and is also fictional. Or, is the movie-within-the-movie in Demons 2 meant to be a documentary that is chronicling the true aftermath of the events of Demons? If it is a documentary, then Demons 2 seems to me a true sequel in that it takes place in the same world as Demons. If it is not a documentary, then I might consider Demons 2 more of a remake than a sequel since the later film would not be considering the earlier film to have actually happened within the logic of the movie. My reading is that the movie-within-the-movie in Demons 2 is not a documentary based on the fact that it is not shot like a documentary: the angles at which the scenes are shot imply a multi-camera setup and a clearly scripted set of shots. In other words, it looks like the rest of Demons 2 and nothing like modern documentary or found footage film.
Wow, I have a feeling that I may have taken that way more seriously than the actual writers of Demons 2. So let’s get back into their chosen mode.
Sally is having a birthday party but hates her dress, so she decides to watch the aforementioned movie-within-the-movie instead of dancing to The Smiths in the living room like everyone else. At one point, the suddenly revived demon from within the movie seems to see Sally and the director cribs directly from Cronenberg’s Videodrome by having the demon somehow push through the television screen and into Sally’s reality.
Also, the writers saw Alien and decided to give the demons acid blood this time, cuz why not.
Obviously, young Sally becomes the first demon and she proceeds to slaughter her party guests.
Meanwhile in another part of the building, a young Asia Argento is eating dinner with her family. You may know Ms. Argento from the award-winning movie xXx, or more recently from Anthony Bourdain’s instagram.
Overall, my favorite storylines in this mess of a plot are those including Davey the doggie, a whole bunch of bodybuilders who are stuck in the building, and George and his pregnant wife Hannah, who are arguably the main characters.
First, Davey the doggie. He’s not really important to the plot, but he goes through a great Howling-esque transformation.
Second, the bodybuilders. Holy crap do the bodybuilders make this movie amazing. They keep trying to fend off demons with fitness equipment and failing every single time. I took to referring to the group as the “Leotards” and I suggest you do as well. “Hey Leotards, use those dumbbells as a weapon!”
And third, George and Hannah. Hannah is pregnant and George is occasionally called David (the actor’s real name) because Hannah can’t remember her lines.
As in Demons, where preppy George gets his sleeves torn off and suddenly becomes muscly Action George, in Demons 2 preppy, Clark Kent-glasses wearing George also becomes Action George. They couldn’t even be bothered with thinking up a new name.
Early Movie George:
Late Movie Georgie:
No really, look at him!
I just want to cuddle that cheeky little tyke right up!
My favorite moment of Demons 2 has to have been when, in the middle of the big climax of the film, my wife noticed something and it shocked her to her very core…
“Oh my god, she’s in sling-back wedges!?! Those are a terrible shoe choice for a pregnant woman to be running around a roof in!” She had nightmares about sling-back wedges that night…
Things I learned while watching Demons 2
The following can be used to defeat the demons:
- bath towels
- kicks to the face
- murphy beds
- Saab’s, with their advanced safety features
- an early 80s BMW 2002
The following will not defeat the demons:
- Four-door BMWs (only coupés get the job done)
- rope climbs
- leotards, dumbbells, and potted plants are completely ineffective
Demons 2 is terrific with a few beers, a worthy successor to Demons, and dukes it out with Death Spa for the title of best horror movie to so prominently feature leotards. Demons 2 is bonkers in the best possible way.
DJ Schuldt is an English professor and is really looking forward to writing about The Church (aka, Demons 3) next October.