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John’s Horror Corner: Demonia (1990), Lucio Fulci’s clunky Italian nunsploitation is sort of an “unshiny” blood-stained hidden gem.

December 28, 2020

Not Safe for Work

Death Scene GIFs are shown

Not Safe for Work


MY CALL: Another clunky Italian horror boasting enough chunky gore to earn its hidden gem status despite being otherwise nearly incomprehensible (which is par for the Fulcian course). A fun a watch for gorehounds, and a gem for a legendary “splitting” death scene. MORE MOVIES LIKE Demonia: Fans of Fulcian gore may continue with City of the Living Dead (1980; aka Paura nella città dei morti viventi, The Gates of Hell), The Beyond (1981) and The House by the Cemetery (1981), which form Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy; and then Zombie (1979). Despite featuring more nuns behaving badly, I’d skip The Other Hell (1981).

We open in 1486 Italy, as a gaggle of struggling manhandled nuns are dragged into a monastery basement to be crucified. Then we skip to 1980 Canada when a séance connects a young woman (Liza) to the horrid execution of the nuns, which happened to transpire precisely where she will soon be on an archeological expedition on a team led by Professor Evans (Brett Halsey; The Black Cat, The Devil’s Honey). During this trip, Liza stumbles upon the actual site of the crucifixion with the nuns’ remains still affixed to the crosses.

For about thirty minutes I was pleasantly surprised and even relieved at how surprisingly coherent this Fulci film was unfolding. But then, of course, something off-the-wall random pulls the rug out from under me as a completely out of place laughing topless ghost shoots an archaeologist with a spear gun on a boat. Then some drunk guys fall into a pit of spikes… because apparently there are Indiana Jones booby traps in this monastery.

The random Fulciness now blossoms with sweaty nun sex scenes complete with mid-coital murder and bastard babies of lecherous nuns being burned alive in braziers. But you know you’ve gone “Full Fulci” when the cat attack happens. Not since Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980) do I recall such a silly cat scene. And it comes complete with fake cats being literally shaken in front of the camera and a chunky gored eyeball being pulled from its socket. Good stuff.

Of course, the major gorehound selling point of this film is the from-the-crotch body-splitting death scene. Fans of this scene would no doubt also appreciate Bone Tomahawk (2015) and Terrifier (2016), to name some others capitalizing on the same exploitatively entrail-rich gag. We see the abdomen rupture with robust intestines as the body is pulled asunder. Truly, I sought this movie just for that scene! Was it worth it…? Yeah, probably so.

In the end, writer and director Lucio Fulci (Manhattan Baby, Aenigma) finished this film as incomprehensibly as so many others. You’ll surely scratch your head at the narrative decisions being made. But truly, fans of zany clunky Italian horror may find this to be more a gem than a lump of coal for Fulci’s relentless appreciation of wincingly palpable gory death scenes.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2020 8:53 am

    Oh wow this looks great, will have to check this film out!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      December 29, 2020 5:14 pm

      I mean, if you enjoy Fulci films then this is a must.

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