Friday, March 26, 2010

Black Demons (1991)

Another slightly forgotten Lenzi-flick, Black Demons is not his strongest, but another of those very charming late Italian horror productions that have been forgotten over the years. The story is simple but effective: three students (among them the excellent Joe Balogh) goes to Brazil to research about black magic. Dick (Balogh) get's right into a black mass and somehow gets possessed by the power of black magic and brings it with him when they travel into Brazil.

During the trip they meet to hikers who live nearby, and they visits their old house out in the jungle. Not far away is a funeral place with the graves of six black slaves that where killed by their white masters many years ago. The legend says that they want revenge. When Dick starts to play the music he recorded during the black mass he resurrects the slaves and they starts to take their bloody, gruesome revenge!

Like Hell's Gate, Black Demon has a low pace and is very cheap, but I think Black Demons is the better movie. Why? Well, first of all the direction seem a lot more inspired and Lenzi uses beautiful locations and some cool black ritues to make the generic story a bit more entertaining. They terror is also spread all over the movie and not just during the last half hour, which makes the slow pace between the horror faster. Another thing is that is has a little bit more gore than Hell's Gate. There's at least three very graphic murders, among them a very brutal eye-ripping and a cut throat with a lot of blood. The zombies themselves actually looks really good and creepy, almost disgusting with the decay shown with subtle and well made make-up effects.

The weakest thing with the movie is the actors. Joe Balogh is good, and so Keiith Van Hoven, but the local Brazilian talents are terrible. Especially Philip Murray who also makes the worst death-acting EVER. He and the other locals also have problem with the english (everything seem to be their natural voices, not something that's been dubbed in later) and it's hard to hear what they're saying. The woman playing the maid in the house is cool too by the way, and has charisma, but have the same language problems. Sonia Curtis seem to be somewhere else, and even Lenzi claims that the acting problems was a big part of making the movie weaker than it was. Curtis also drank some local milk and got hospitalized during the shooting, so I guess there was some chaos.

It's also fun with a slightly political incorrect theme of the movie. Just the titles, Black Demons, that refers to zombies with dark skin - "black people" - could, I guess, cause some irritated viewers out there. And the zombies are black, and is refered to black slaves in the movie, attacking white people. But on the other side, it's about revenge - just only that they loose in the end. Lenzi himself, in very good interview on the DVD talks a little bit about this, but still feels it's just a horror movie and with no deeper meanings.

I like Black Demons, even if it has problems. The gore is fine, the music is atmospheric, the zombies are brutal and Lenzi's directing is inspired. Once again it's Olga Pehar writing the script, and it's a good and effective b-horror story which could have done better with out some of the dialogue. It just gets a bit talky.

I wish that Lenzi could come out from retirement and give us more movies like this. Mattei could do it, so Lenzi - come on!


Alex Bakshaev said...

Indeed, as you already noted, BLACK DEMONS is a rare instance of a low-budget italian horror dialogue being not dubbed but actually recorded on set.
It would have made a kick-ass 20 minute film with all the scenes inbetween the kills shortened.
As it is, BLACK DEMONS is much too slow. I think I prefer HELL'S GATE which ahs similar feel(and problems) plus the great Barbara Cupisti and Paul Muller.

CiNEZiLLA said...

LOL. I have tried to get though this one with a German Dub. I think I taped it off some RTL station some fifteen years ago, and all I remember is that I never got into it and that it had an eyeball gouging that felt like it was copying a scene out of NIGHTMARE CITY.