Demons made a sur­pris­ing, inter­na­tion­al-lev­el amount of noise for an Italian hor­ror flick dur­ing its orig­i­nal release, which is dou­bly impres­sive when you con­sid­er it was made dur­ing the dying days of hor­ror film­mak­ing in Italy.  Thus, the idea of a Demons sequel was obvi­ous and the orig­i­nal cre­ative team behind the film wast­ed lit­tle time in set­ting up its sequel.  The first film took some cues from American hor­ror of the era and the same could be said for Demons 2:  like its American hor­ror film sequel cousins, it is con­tent to Demons2-blustick to its work­ing for­mu­la while weav­ing in a few new angles and a big­ger sense of scope.

The setup for Demons 2 shows a strong David Cronenberg influ­ence: like his first film Shivers, it deals with a con­ta­gion wreak­ing hav­oc on a chic, mod­ern apart­ment tow­er.  The point of orig­in lies in the tele­vi­sion broad­cast of a film about demons.  The first vic­tim is Sally (Coralina Cataldi Tessoni), a bipo­lar birth­day girl who gets attacked by a demon that emerges from her tele­vi­sion screen à la Videodrome.  She quick­ly spreads the con­ta­gion to her par­ty guests when it’s time for her to blow out the can­dles on her birth­day cake.

And from there, Demons 2 frag­ments into an episod­ic series of set­pieces and sub­plots.  The tow­er locks down as the non-infect­ed sur­vivors either look for a way to escape or bar­ri­cade them­selves and try to fight the ever-grow­ing demon­ic hordes.  Heroes/potential vic­tims include a young Asia Argento, a latchkey kid (Marco Vivio), the apart­ment building’s fit­ness coach (the great Bobby Rhodes) and a grad stu­dent (David Knight) try­ing to pro­tect his heav­i­ly preg­nant wife (Nancy Brilli).

Demons2-01Demons 2 pro­vides a decent amount of fun for the Italo-hor­ror buff:  the tele­vi­sion demon-birth and Sally’s trans­for­ma­tion before the birth­day cake are stand­out sequences, boast­ing some all-stops-out pros­thet­ic effects from Sergio Stivaletti and a bar­rage of flashy angles from direc­tor Lamberto Bava.  It also has wall-to-wall music but intrigu­ing­ly the hard rock-inten­sive approach of the last film has been replaced by an array of alter­na­tive rock tunes from the Smiths, Dead Can Dance, Love And Rockets, et al (that said, Simon Boswell’s syn­th-rock score is of a sim­i­lar style to Claudio Simonetti’s work in Demons).

However, the flim­si­ness of the plot­ting and char­ac­ter­i­za­tions that was easy to ignore in Demons stands out a bit more stark­ly in Demons 2.  By design, its larg­er-scale sto­ry­telling needs for the audi­ence to be able to invest in the char­ac­ters a lit­tle more and sad­ly, the­se char­ac­ter­i­za­tions are as thin as those in Demons.  The plot­ting gets slap­dash in places, as well: much to-do is made of a plot thread with an unwant­ed par­ty guest rac­ing to Sally’s par­ty that ulti­mate­ly goes nowhere.  There are some fun new wrin­kles — like an Alien-esque bit where the demons emit an acidic blood that Demons2-02eats through the building’s floors as they first trans­form — but the­se ele­ments are ulti­mate­ly thrown away as the sec­ond half of the film becomes a series of sieges and cat-and-mouse skir­mish­es.

That said, Demons 2 is divert­ing for the patient Italo-hor­ror fare if you can ignore how the non­sen­si­cal ele­ment of the sto­ry­telling is more pro­nounced.  The com­bi­na­tion of that glossy Italian style, the pump­ing sound­track and unpre­dictable bits of weird­ness can be hyp­notic if you look at it as a style ride. Sometimes, it gets campy in its weird­ness, like an extend­ed scene where the preg­nant wom­an fights a Ghoulies-esque mini demon, but it’s not dull.   Rhodes is as much fun to watch as he was in the first film and the park­ing garage con­fla­gra­tions between demons and hDemons2-03umans that he pre­sides over are some of the film’s most excit­ing moments.

Simply put, the appeal of Demons 2 depends on your appetite for wacko Italian style over sto­ry­telling sub­stance.  Those who can appre­ci­ate its styl­ish air­head­ed­ness will find enough goo, weird­ness and rock tunes for their lik­ing.

Blu-Ray Notes: Like its pre­de­ces­sor, Demons 2 was pre­vi­ous­ly given a lim­it­ed-edi­tion steel­book release by Synapse Films.  They have recent­ly pro­duced a gen­er­al-release blu-ray ver­sion of this title.  The com­pa­ny did a lot of cleanup work on this title and the results are impres­sive: col­or and detail are both impres­sive and the black-lev­els dur­ing the shad­owy night pho­tog­ra­phy and dark inte­ri­ors are rock-solid.  There are a few shots that suf­fer from a cer­tain “flut­ter” effect but this was an unavoid­able flaw in the source mate­ri­al (click here to read about the chal­lenges of doing this trans­fer).  The English 2.0 stereo mix is pre­sent­ed in loss­less style here and has a crisp, bold sound that fits the par­ty movie for hor­ror fans vibe of the pro­duc­tion.  The one extra for this disc is the orig­i­nal trail­er — more extras can be found on the steel­book but sup­plies are lim­it­ed on that ver­sion so inter­est­ed fans should move fast to get one.