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John’s Horror Corner: Demons 2 (1986; aka, Dèmoni 2… l’incubo ritorna), another deliciously cheesy Italian outbreak of chunky gore.

February 22, 2021

MY CALL: I’d rank this sequel below the epic schlocky Italian treasure that part 1 was. But this sequel remains a cheesy blast of gory fun and, in fact, there are many who favor it over the original. MORE MOVIES LIKE Demons 2: Well I hope you’ve already seen Demons (1985), because they connect the two films well. The Return of the Living Dead (1985) and Night of the Demons 1-2 (1988, 1994) offer comparably cheesy fun with similar but more clearly told demon contagion stories. Fans of wacky Italian cheesy gorefests would likely enjoy 80s Fulcian gore in the form of 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).

Hi-Rise Horror SIDEBAR: Shivers (1975), Poltergeist III (1988), The Dark Tower (1989) and Shakma (1990) also brought horror to tall buildings.

As we meet our cast of victims at a birthday party in Sally’s condo, a movie on TV muses the possibility of “another” demon outbreak, thus acknowledging the recent events of Demons (1985) directly such that we now know that “this world” understands this supernatural event actually happened. Meanwhile, several other tenants in the building are watching the movie within our movie about a group of people searching the remains of the demon outbreak of the first movie. Like part 1, the events in the movie parallel events transpiring in the condo building. After accidently being exposed to drops of human blood, a movie demon corpse reconstitutes into a gummy, gnarly-mawed demon via reverse time lapse footage and some stop-motion work. When this demon sees Sally watching the movie through the TV, it passes through the screen like in The Ring (2002) to begin hunting its fleshy fare.

Our cast of characters include: Hank (Bobby Rhodes; Demons, Screamers), Sally (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni; Mother of Tears, Opera), Ingrid (Asia Argento; The Church, Mother of Tears, Land of the Dead, Trauma) and her father (Antonio Cantafora; Baron Blood), and Mary (Virginia Bryant; Demons 3), among others. Though playing an entirely different character, Bobby Rhodes is our “heavy” again.

Director Lamberto Bava (Shock, Demons 1-3) and co-writer Dario Argento (Demons, Suspiria, Inferno, The Mother of Tears, The Church) are experts in gory Italian fare. The demon transformations are just as gnarly as part 1, with talons tearing through fingertips and fangs uprooting human teeth. These mangled mouths simply MUST be the influence of Night of the Demons 1-2 (1988, 1994) and Dagon (2001) and the like. And though not a great kill, I wonder if this movie featured the first tanning bed death scene. The effects might just be a step up from Demons (1985), but the original had better execution in my opinion.

The dog demon is a nice addition, and so is the kid demon! And like part 1, a demon will erupt from inside of another demon. In this case a sort of fiendish Muppet-Ghoulie tears out from the kid demon’s stomach. And when Sally’s pregnant neighbor drops by, you know we’re in for a treat.

Somehow this sequel just feels a bit crass to me. Still very fun to watch, but it somehow doesn’t cultivate the same degree of bonkers mania. There doesn’t seem to be a big change in effects quality—although the zombies are less unique, with many appearing yet more zombie-ish than before. Still I simply find it decidedly less exciting, even if still fun. This movie essentially starts out just as good as part 1, but gets weaker by comparison with each subsequent act. Truth be told, MANY reviewers online strongly disagree with me and favor this sequel to the original. So don’t let me sway you from it!

The ending may not have anything amounting to the katana-dirt bike extravaganza of 1985. But it does stay in theme with its predecessor in the meta-movie solution to the demonic infestation: destroy the screens, destroy the movie, stop the demons.

I’d rank it below the epic schlocky Italian treasure that part 1 was. But this sequel remains a cheesy blast of gory fun.

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