Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Demons 2 (3 Stars)

Gries, Gras, Grottefuß, Gäs laufet barfuß.

This is a sequel to the Italian film "Demons", made one year later in 1986. Once more the film was written by Dario Argenta and directed by Lamberto Bava. This is another of the rare cases in film history where a film is better known for its screenwriter than for its director or actors.

The film takes place in Hamburg a few years after the events of the first film. As you may remember, the Demons (which look and act like zombies) were defeated by keeping them trapped in West Berlin, surrounded by the Wall. In the meantime everyone in West Berlin has been killed, but the Demons themselves have also perished, maybe because of a lack of food. It's not sure whether the Demons have really died or are just sleeping, so the city has been declared a forbidden zone which nobody is allowed to enter.

Sally is a 14-year-old girl who lives in a high rise building called The Tower in Hamburg. Her friends all all in her apartment for her birthday. (Wikipedia claims that she's 16, but she isn't. Her age isn't stated in the film, but I counted the candles on her birthday cake. The actress who plays Sally was 15 when the film was made). Since Sally's boyfriend hasn't come to the party she locks herself in her bedroom and watches television. There's a program about four East German teenagers who climb over the Berlin Wall looking for Demons. One of them awakes when a girl cuts her finger and her blood drips onto it. The Demon quickly attacks the teenagers and turns them into Demons like itself. Sally sits staring at the screen, seemingly sexually aroused by the violence. Then the Demon turns to face the camera. It walks towards the camera, then climbs out of the screen into Sally's bedroom and attacks her.

This is Sally before the change.

This is Sally after the change. It's true what they say: too much television is bad for you.

Sally attacks her party guests and turns them all into Demons. In the first film the means of transformation wasn't specified. I assumed that people become Demons after being bitten, as is usual in zombie films. The Demons usually bite their victims, but that's only because they're peckish for a mouthful of meat. It isn't what makes a person a Demon. The change comes after being scratched with a Demon's claws.

Unlike traditional zombies, the Demons aren't slow, lumbering creatures. They can run and jump with supernatural agility. They break into the other apartments in the building, killing or changing everyone they meet. We don't see the original Demon who climbed out of the television set any more. Sally is the leader, and all the others swarm after her in a pack.

I don't enjoy "Demons 2" as much as the original film. In typical monster films the viewer knows who the hero is, and he watches him (or her) fighting to survive while everyone around him is being slaughtered. In "Demons 2" it's not clear who the hero is who will survive to fight again in the sequel. The film does have a survivor, but we don't know who it will be until everyone else is dead. Until that point, every time we think we know who the hero is he's suddenly killed, leaving us with a feeling of disappointment.

Apart from that some of the mini-demons look far too unrealistic, like little rubber dolls. It's not a film I can get enthusiastic about.

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