Thursday, May 24, 2012

Demonia (1990)

Without stepping on too many toes I would like to say that many horror fans out there is a bit lazy. They are too afraid of actually liking a movie if it's widely considered a bad movie. Argento, Romero, Carpehter, Craven and Fulci - all of them have had this curse on them and still has in most of the cases. Maybe it's because the horror community is such a small and narrow part of movie society that people are afraid to get pushed out from the fellowship. Remember that Romero's Day of the Dead, Argento's Phenomena (and a couple of more) and Fulci's Murder Rock once was considered bad movies but is now hailed as good, excellent or pure masterpieces. With open eyes and mind it's therefore very interesting watching the lesser loved movies directed by, for example, maestro Lucio Fulci: Demonia.

A Canadian (I read that on IMDB) team of archaeologists lead by Professor Paul Evans (Brett Halsey) is on Sicily to excavate some ancient roman sites, but nearby is an old monastery - rumoured to be haunted by the local villagers. One of the archaeologists, the young Liza Harris (Meg Register) soon sees visions of five nuns being tortured to death and she's getting more frail the more she sees this. Her interest is in the occult, but this time it's way more serious than earlier. Soon people around her, team-mates and folks from the village, is getting brutally killed! Can it be that the nuns has come back for revenge?

Demonia is a very interesting movie. I'm sure that if it had a higher budget and more time for special effects and longer shooting schedule this would have been one of Fulci's best from the eighties, because the script isn't bad at all. Written by Lucio Fulci and Piero Regnoli (who actually wrote both Nightmare City AND Burial Ground) this is a low-key story (believe it or not!) with an intelligent dream-like quality. Fulci seem to know what he's doing and the story flows very good - especially with a very good performance by both Halsey and Register. The mystery and atmosphere works better than usual and the movie is also packed with very gory and violent killings!

And there we have one problem with Demonia. The budget for effects wasn't really high, it seems, and most of the effects - the spectacular one's like the body ripped in part and the poked-out eye - looks very amateurish. Usually I don't care about it and I can live with these effects, but the rest of the movie is so serious that the low quality on the effects takes you out from the movie every now and then. I don't know, but it feels like A Cat in the Brain could have gotten some inspiration from this production - just remember the scene where Fulci voices his dissatisfaction with the effects?

Demonia also looks very cheap, like a low-class TV-movie. Could be the transfer to DVD, but I never seen this movie looking good. With Sergio Salvati behind the camera and Giannetto De Rossi this could have been a fantastic movie, but instead with get the less skilled Luigi Ciccarese on photo (one of Mattei's closest cinematographer's) and Franco Giannini doing the effects.

But if you disliked it before, give it a chance again. It's not bad at all actually. Just very cheap. 


Richard of DM said...

Just call me Mr. Bandwagon. I too hated, HATED this movie the first time I saw it and haven't seen it since. Am I primed to give it another chance? Definitely.

Ninja Dixon said...

Oh, I disliked it to! But I've been trying to rewatch a lot of these old "turds" with another pair of eyes, so to speak. It worked :) Give it a new chance! You might like it more - or hate it more!

Anonymous said...

"Maybe it's because the horror community is such a small and narrow part of movie society that people are afraid to get pushed out from the fellowship."

Not so sure about that can apply that behaviour to anything, books, music etc....

Personally I always been fan of Friedkins films even though the critics hate some of his movies.....but in some cases I agree.

Demonia sounds like cool flick....keep it up ninja.

Nigel M said...

I really like this film. It is an attempt to revisit old ground - sort of Gates of Hell film with added nuns.

There is a wonderful bit leading up to a human wishbone effect that is especially trippy.

bruce holecheck said...

DEMONIA and MONSTER SHARK were the first two Japanese prerecords I ever bought!