Demons 4K Blu-ray Review

Eaten by Demons

by Simon Crust
SRP: £53.99

Demons Review

I don't know how to explain it, but it's the movie that's making it happen!  

During the 70’s and 80’s, there was one name that was a giant of Italian cinema: Dario Argento. Already having made his name a director with such delights as Deep Red (1975), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980) and Tenebrae (1982), the international community was taking note – the famed director, already a household name in his home country, was becoming as well-known as Hitchcock throughout the world; and this fame lead him into producing. Such was his might that he dragged the Italian genre cinema into the world’s spotlight, and as such allowed lesser known directors to make it big. One such name is Lamberto Bava (son of the magnificent Mario Bava), who helmed tonight’s features, two eighties horror films that are small on structure but big on shock; but both with the deft hand of maestro Argento clearly pulling the strings.

 

Demons has a four word plot: People Eaten by Demons 

The movie pitch went like this: The movie has people eaten by demons. So, what about characters. Yes, the people eaten by demons. And the plot? People eaten by demons. What about twists? People eaten by demons. The big set piece? People eaten by demons. Tell me about the big climactic fight out. People eaten by demons. So you are saying that all this film has, is people being eaten by demons? No, there are boobs. Oh yes, and what happens there? Eaten by demons.

Film grammar necessitates certain aspects to give a narrative flow; first on the list is characters, you need someone to identify with, these character need to have an arc, something for them to do or overcome, to give them purpose in the narrative; you need set-ups and pay-offs to add structure and all the while there should be a sense of pace while building towards a climax. Demons has none of this.

Now, fair to say, Italian cinema has always been a law unto itself; weak characterisation, little use of story arcs, mad narrative devices and, all too often, inconsistences and irreverences to the plot (indeed Argento’s later projects would push this too far). But Demons, is really quite out there; it jettisons all but the bare essentials of anything resembling a story, that of demons being released into a cinema of trapped patrons, while adding completely ludicrous scenes – one minute characters are piling up furniture to block the demons, the next, someone is riding a motorbike wielding a samurai sword and the climax has a helicopter appear, quite literally, out of nowhere! There are no characters to speak of, none have an arc, indeed, no sooner has the story started than the volume is turned up to eleven and it doesn’t let up, the whole thing is one long scene of, guess what, people being eaten by demons.

One thing the Italians do get right is the gore; and Demons is right on the money; you want eye gougings, flesh eating, stabbings and beheadings, then you have it – all the splatter you want, and then some. The pace is furious, it does not let up, fuelled by the many 80’s heavy metal tracks by the likes of Motley Crue, Saxon and Accept. But despite all this, there is something remarkable about Demons. It has an almost childlike wonder. It’s like being hit in the face with a custard pie: sickly, messy, but a great laugh and sweet. Some say it has its place, and that place is in the 80s, I’m not so sure; the internet has allowed anyone to make and show such schlock and, in that regard, it has a home in the 2020s.

Demons 4K Video

Demons (1985)
How do I look? 

Demons was shot using Arriflex 35 BL4 cameras on 35mm film, with the source getting a fresh 4K scan and restoration by Arrow from the original camera negatives, producing a new 4K DI. The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 1.66:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, High Dynamic Range, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for Dolby Vision and HRD10. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Demons on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DP-UB450 Dolby Vision HDR10+ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

 

It is a very dark film 

Whilst there are limitations in the source, which is a tad soft throughout, detail is well realised with plenty to see in close ups. Skin texture and clothing weaves both show finite definition, while backgrounds - wood grain in the cinema seats, wall coverings, including posters, brickwork, rivets in duct work - see everything well defined. There are no real establishing shots, but those of the station and exterior of the cinema show keen edges throughout.

The HDR and WCG means the colours are well saturated and vivid, with primaries being strong and well graded. Red is particularly good, and not just the blood, the cinema décor is rich and plush. Flesh tones are very natural, while the supernatural tones of the demons are shocking.

It is a very dark film, and the black level is set very low, some scenes are impenetrable, this does add some decent frame depth, but things do get a bit murky – this is not a transfer fault though, it’s always been dark. Highlights fare extremely well, with metallic sheen on the motorbike and sword or the lights of the cinema or torches, really pushing the image.

The source is clean and tidy with no digital issues, and a comforting sheen of grain to remind you of the filmic nature of the beast. Based on the UK uncut feature.

Demons 4K Audio

Demons (1985)
Oh my God, look at that eighties fashion! 

The English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track does feel distinctly front heavy, with only the score really making any surround effect. Dialogue is rooted to the centre, and sounds natural enough. The surrounds do pick up a little ambience (such as the reverb of the cinema sound track) and the odd growl, but are mainly used to fill out the score, which provides the best use of the surround experience. Stereo effects are well catered for, the motorbike sword scene being the best. Bass is pretty low, adding impact to the effects and score, but it won’t rattle the furniture. In all, it’s pretty decent.

Review System: Denon AVR-X4300H, MK Sound LCR750 and SUR55T, XTZ S2 Atmosphere ceiling mounted, SVS PB-12 Ultra

Demons 4K Extras

Demons (1985)
Does the cinema ticket work...?

All the extras are found on the UHD discs.

Disc 1

Two Cuts of Demons – UK and Italian Uncut version, USA R-Rated (cut) version.

Audio commentary – New for this release with critics Kat Ellinger and Heather Drain, co-hosts of the Hells Bells podcast – recorded during COVID as they make mention of it!

Audio commentary – With director Lamberto Bava and special makeup effects artist Sergio Stivaletti, moderated by journalist Loris Curci, previously available.

Audio commentary – With Lamberto Bava, Sergio Stivaletti, composer Claudio Simonetti and actress Geretta Geretta, previously available.

Produced by Dario Argento – New for this release is a new visual essay by author and critic Michael Mackenzie exploring the legendary film-maker's career as a producer.

Darios Demon Days - Archival interview with writer/producer Dario Argento.

Defining an Era in Music - Archival interview with Claudio Simonetti.

Splatter Spaghetti Style - Archival interview with long-time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi.

Italian theatrical trailer International

English theatrical trailer US theatrical trailer

Disc 2

Audio commentary – With critic Travis Crawford, new for this release.

Audio commentary – With director Lamberto Bava and special makeup effects artist Sergio Stivaletti, moderated by journalist Loris Curci, previously available.

Together Apart – Visual essay, newly recorded for this release, on space and technology in Demons and Demons 2 by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

Creating Creature Carnage – Archival interview with special make-up effects artist Sergio Stivaletti.

Bava to Bava – Archival interview with long-time Argento collaborator, Luigi Cozzi, on the history of Italian horror.

Italian Theatrical Trailer

International English Theatrical Trailer

Limited edition packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais

Limited edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing by Roberto Curti, Rachael Nisbet and Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Double-sided fold-out poster

Exclusive mystery sneak preview movie ticket (admits one to the Metropol Theatre)

Demons 4K Verdict

Demons 4K Blu-ray Review

Demons (1985)
Hello there

Demons is a blast, with its four word plot, people eaten by demons, you can expect nothing less; it rockets along with an all 80’s heavy metal sound track and buckets of gore – there’s no attempt at story, scenes make no sense, it is essentially one big climax, so don’t come here for narrative, character arc or structure, just enjoy on the superficial level it was made.

  

Superficial level!  

The set from Arrow is terrific, with an all new native 4K scan the picture is clean, bright, well detailed with rich colouring and strong blacks. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA surround track is a bit front heavy, but maintains energy and range with decent bass. The extras package is also well catered for, with 2 cuts of the film and both newly recorded and archival material to enjoy. Currently available as a 2 disc limited edition with Demons 2.

Enter our competition to win a copy of Demons 1 & 2 on Limited Edition Blu-ray

Scores

Movie

.
.
.
7

Picture Quality

.
.
.
7

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Extras

.
9

Overall

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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