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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Demons" )

 

directed by Lamberto Bava
Italy 1985

Music students Cheryl (Natasha Hovey) and Kathy (Paola Cozzo, CAT IN THE BRAIN) ditch their evening class when they accept free passes to an unidentified movie at the recently re-opened Metropol Theatre in Berlin (interiors were shot in Rome). Among the premiere's other invitees are a bickering older couple (Stelio Candeli [NUDE FOR SATAN] and Nicole Tessier [GIANTS OF ROME], young lovers Hannah (Fiore Argento, PHENOMENA) and Tommy (Guido Baldi), blind Werner (Alex Serra, SALOME), his daughter Liz (Enrica Maria Scrivano, THE BERLIN AFFAIR), and her lover (Claudio Spadaro, DEVIL IN THE FLESH), as well as pimp Tony (Bobby Rhodes, ENDGAME) and his two hookers Rosemary (Geretta Geretta, MURDER ROCK) and Carmen (Fabiola Toledo, CALIGULA: THE UNTOLD STORY). Rosemary cuts herself while playing with the demon mask displayed in the lobby. Cheryl and Kathy meet cute with George (Urbano Barberini, OPERA) and Ken (Karl Zinny, THE TUNNEL) and settle in to watch the feature: a horror movie in which four students investigate the ruins of the tomb of Nostradamus and discover a demon mask. One of the students (Michele Soavi, ANTHROPOPHAGUS 2) cuts himself and becomes a murderous demon. Rosemary's cut begins to bleed so she goes off to the restroom where she also messily transforms into a demon. Carmen goes to find her and is clawed by the monster, but manages to escape her (bursting through the back of the movie screen during a horror set-piece). When she transforms before the eyes of the audience, they try to escape the theater and find themselves bricked inside. As the grisly contagion spreads and barricades prove useless, Cheryl, Kathy, George, and Ken endeavor to escape the theater; but the demons are multiplying and there might not be anything left to escape to in the outside world. More demon fodder includes four subplot coke-headed punks (Lino Salemme, Peter Pitsch [OPERA], Giuseppe Maria Curciano [THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE], and Bettina Ciampolini [DISTANT LIGHTS]) who are running from the cops and sneak into the theater by the same mysteriously unlocked door that allows the first of the demons outside. Nicoletta Elmi (child star of such memorable Italian gialli and horror films as Argento's DEEP RED, Mario Bava's BARON BLOOD and BAY OF BLOOD, Massimo Dallamano's NIGHT CHILD, Aldo Lado's WHO SAW HER DIE?, and Luigi Bazzoni's FOOTPRINTS) is all grown-up here as the striking usherette Ingrid.

Lamberto Bava's DEMONS began life as a one story in a proposed film anthology with Dario Argento (SUSPIRIA) as producer/presenter. This feature-length version merely crowds the thin story with lots of characters (so much so that the central quartet only seem to be identified as the protagonists because they've been given names that are uttered more than once so we'll remember). The senseless plot never explains how or why the soon to be infected characters end up trapped in the theater (Bava's sequel and Michele Soavi's THE CHURCH [originally DEMONS III] take care to provide an explanation); that said, it is immensely entertaining with buckets of gore, great sub-Rick Baker/Stan Winston/Rob Bottin eighties animatronic demon transformations (courtesy of Argento mainstay Sergio Stivaletti and crew), and one of the best eighties compilation soundtracks boasting songs by Motley Crew, Billy Idol, Saxon, The Adventures, and Go West among others. Goblin's Claudio Simonetti goes solo for the instrumental passages (his finest eighties soundtrack work). A music video for Simonetti's theme featured a cameo by Argento and was directed by Michele Soavi.

Barberini would later appear in Bava's made-for-TV supernatural twist on "The Postman Always Rings Twice" titled UNTIL DEATH, while Zinny would later appear in Bava's GRAVEYARD DISTURBANCE and DELIRIUM. Toledo and Soavi had previously co-starred in Bava's BLADE IN THE DARK (Soavi does triple duty here as one of the film-within-a-film characters, the demonic movie pass distributor, and assistant director). Fiore Argento's better-known sister Asia would appear in Bava's DEMONS 2. Rhodes and Salemme would show up again (with more "respectable" jobs) in DEMONS 2. Geoffredo Unger, once the stuntman for the masked killer of Mario Bava's BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, pops up late in the film armed for demon combat. Pitsch would appear in Bava's YOU'LL DIE AT MIDNIGHT and THE MAN WHO DIDN'T WANT TO DIE. Lamberto Bava himself makes a cameo.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 30 May 1986 (USA)

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Comparison:

Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas and Gary Tooze for the Screen Caps!

1) Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Anchor Bay

Region 0 - NTSC

Anchor Bay
Region 1 - NTSC
Arrow Video
Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Demons and Demons 2 are sold on Blu-ray from Arrow as a Limited Edition Steelbook package together:

Runtime 1:28:24 1:28:24 1:28:36.311
Video

1.63:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.57 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.67:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.39 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,611,014,769 bytes

Feature: 20,228,425,728 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.39 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Anchor Bay

 

Bitrate:

 

Anchor Bay

 

Bitrate:

Arrow Video Blu-ray

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround

English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
* LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
* LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio Italian 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
* LPCM Audio Italian 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
* LPCM Audio Italian 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Subtitles none none English HoH, English (for Italian audio)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.63:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary with director Lamberto Bava, special effects director Sergio Stivaletti and jounalist Loris Curci
• Behind-the-Scenes (4:3; 2:09)
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 1:17)
• Talent Bios

DVD Release Date: 16 March 1999
Amaray

Chapters 17
 

Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.67:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary with director Lamberto Bava, special effects director Sergio Stivaletti and jounali
• Behind-the-Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer
• Trailers for DEMONS 2, PHENOMENA, TENEBRE, RE-ANIMATOR, and PHANTASM

 

DVD Release Date: 25 September 2007
Amaray

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

 

Aspect Ratio: - 1.66:1

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,611,014,769 bytes

Feature: 20,228,425,728 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.39 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary with director Lamberto Bava, Sergio Stivaletti and journalist Loris Curci
• Audio commentary with Lamberto Bava, Sergio Stivaletti, and Geretta Giancarlo
• Dario's Demonic Origins: Interview with Dario Argento (10:31)
• Defining an Era in Music: Interview with Claudio Simonetti (9:34)
• Luigi Cozzi's Top Italian Terrors: Interview with Luigi Cozzi (11:27)

Double-sided fold-out poster
•  Collector’s Booklet featuring brand new writing on Demons by Calum Wadell
•  Collector’s Comic: ‘Demons 3’ Part 1 of 2! Not 'The Ogre'. Not 'The Church'. Not even 'Black Demons'! For the first time ever, Arrow Video presents an original sequel to the cult classics.

 

Blu-ray Release Date: May 21st, 2012
Four option reversible sleeve with original poster and video artwork with additional fifth artwork panel featuring all-new Jeff Zornow artwork

Chapters

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Arrow - Region 'B' Blu-ray - May 2012: It seems quite probable that the SD-DVD version had some degree of brightness boosting to 'help' the dark film deal with the limitations of the format. This is more apparent in side-by-side comparison. While it is darker and duller it certainly has more detail and I think it looks far more authentic. Colors when called upon are fairly robust and any dullness is probably part of the original appearance. Contrast seems unhindered and the darkness suits the claustrophobic aura much more. The higher resolution is more capable at layering and the 1.66:1 film benefits from this 1080P transfer. This is advertised as being restored from the original camera negative by Cineteca di Bologna.

I've never seen Demons before and can't really comment on what Eric says about the original being Dolby stereo. The linear PCM track sounds quite strong to me - albeit stemming from a monaural source. I didn't notice any lack of buoyancy although, as I said, I don't have anything to compare it to. Demons is a LOUD film with 'beaucoup' of effects and there was certainly depth if no separations. The aggressiveness is part of the films driving pace and I though the LPCM was consistent, clean and suited the film. There are subtitles in English HoH or English (for Italian audio) in a small white font (see sample) and the Blu-ray disc appears to be Region 'B'-locked.

Extras are stacked with the duplicate audio commentary found on the Anchor Bay DVDs with director Lamberto Bava, Sergio Stivaletti and journalist Loris Curci - plus there is a second commentary (2011) with recollections of the cast and crew. Very cool. We also get some Arrow produced video supplements including 10.5 minutes of Dario's Demonic Origins: with producer Dario Argento discussing the inception of Demons. Defining an Era in Music has 9.5 minutes of composer Claudio Simonetti on the Demons soundtrack and for the curious - Luigi Cozzi’s Top Italian Terrors where he discusses the highpoints of 'Spaghetti Splatter'. The Steelbook package itself is quite a handful containing a double-sided fold-out poster, a collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on Demons by Calum Wadell and a collector’s comic: ‘Demons 3’ Part 1 of 2! Not 'The Ogre'. Not 'The Church'. Not even 'Black Demons'!

Arrow really go the extra mile and fans here should be ecstatic with the result of all the effort put into Blu-ray packages like these. Incredible. As Eric and I discussed in email - one can't help but think of Bigas Luna's Anguish where much of the scenario takes place in a movie theater. Bava's film is, predictably, more harsh and kinetic. It's no wonder the sequels followed - Demons is a heck of a ride! Arrow Blu-ray is strongly recommended!      

Gary W. Tooze

***

ON THE DVDs: When DEMONS was released theatrically by Ascot Entertainment in the United States, it was uncut and unrated but its Dolby Stereo track was mixed down to mono; however, the US mix featured some added sound effects and a couple instances of re-dubbed dialogue (including changes to the dialogue of the four punks and the husband of the bickering couple [voiced on the export track by dubbing director Nick Alexander]). This version was the one that appeared on VHS from New World Video and on laserdisc by Image Entertainment (the Japanese tape and laserdisc featured the original Dolby Stereo mix in Dolby Surround). The 1998 Roan Group US laserdisc featured a new 5.1 AC-3 mix (as well as a Chace Surround Stereo on the digital track), as well as an audio commentary and the film's theatrical trailer. Anchor Bay carried over the 5.1 mix, 2.0 surround downmix, commentary, and trailer to 1999 non-anamorphic letterbox DVD (and added a behind-the-scenes featurette). Unlike their upscaled reissues of PHENOMENA and TENEBRE, Anchor Bay's 2007 anamorphic reissue of DEMONS featured a new transfer (which opened with an outdated IntraFilm logo). The image was also brighter but not ruinously so (audio specs were identical). The 2007 disc featured new menu designs, but lacked the lunging demon transitions between the 1998 disc's less attractive menus.

Arrow have stated that they were unable to synchronize the Dolby Stereo tracks and have used mono English and Italian tracks. Whatever the quality of the
Blu-ray's LPCM mixes (see Blu-ray comments), this is disappointing since the film's original mix is Dolby Stereo.

 -Eric Cotenas

 


Menus


(Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 

Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE

3) Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray / Anchor Bay (closer to Dolby Stereo mix than LPCM mono)

Extras: Blu-ray

 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Anchor Bay

Region 0 - NTSC

Anchor Bay
Region 1 - NTSC
Arrow Video
Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Demons and Demons 2 are sold on Blu-ray from Arrow as a Limited Edition Steelbook package together:

    

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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