Demons (Dèmoni): after being lured into a free movie screening a diverse cross-section of society are trapped and attacked by a demon curse. Essentially a zombie film but with demons, everything about Demons is an excuse to get more gore on the screen, and the crimson effects are unbelievable – puss, bile, blood, guts, and even whole demons bursting out of people – all done with physical FX. Not unlike some of Argento’s films of the era the production feels surprisingly high quality, which has made the modern blu ray release look way more impressive than similar movies from this era. The soundtrack is also interesting; packed with heavy metal royalty (and Rick Springfield) – Saxon, Billy Idol, Motley Crue, Pretty Maids, Accept – which give the film an authentic and nostalgic edge. To pad out the runtime we’re treated to longer-than-necessary sections of a film-within-a-film, and a completely ridiculous (and unrelated) street punk side-story – but it’s forgivable stuff. There’s also lots of ‘bad’ / ‘hammy’ aspects to the film which make it ripe for B-movie / cult status: it’s very 80s, and things like the dialogue, characters (like a black guy who just happens to be a switchblade proficient pimp), and performances carry a ‘midnight movie’ feel. Demons is not for everyone, but gore fiends and metal aficionados are the target for this badly dubbed pan-European cheesy horror.
B-Movie Score: 9/10
Evil Dead: five friends go for a remote, relaxing break at a cabin in the woods… where they accidentally unleash an angry daemon. So I’ve seen this film about ten times, yet it still gives me the willies: from the outset there’s a lot of weird, floaty camera movement as it sweeps through the woods; something spooky or shifty happens about every 2 minutes; and you couldn’t have picked a more eerie set of locations: rickety house, basement, woods. The film’s packed with masterful moments of suspense, and the old school horror soundtrack gives it a timeless quality – screeching strings. There’s a few funny bits (and black humour thread throughout), but it’s definitely more horror than comedy. Whilst Bruce Campbell isn’t the best actor in the world, his presence is something else. The film builds towards a gore filed gory gore-fest of an ending – that will satisfy the hardest of horror fans. Essentially a B-movie, made on a shoestring budget; it has more than enough going on to totally distract you from the fact that it’s so cheap and brimming with continuity errors. The Evil Dead has more atmosphere, tension and impact than 20 empty, modern, derivative horror knockoffs. Proper horror cult classic.
The Human Centipede: A respected-but-crazy German surgeon tries to fulfill his dream of connecting three people by the digestive system and creating… a human centipede. Story-wise, you’ve seen the set-up a million times; two helpless travelers’ car breaks down, they have no phone signal and they land up on a madman’s door step. Where this differs is that compared to slasher/monster flicks the idea and villain are firmly rooted in reality (and apparently medicine!) – further implied by the film’s familiarly clinical settings and unsettlingly sterile visuals. What makes this so shocking is more than just the ultra-sick idea and follow-up; very little gore or filth is explicitly shown, and you’re mind gets to run wild with it – how does the digestive system work? what do the joined bits look like? etc. The budget goes a long, long way here (positively B-movie) – a great testament to the director, Tom Six. The Walken-esque Dr Heiter brings the entertainment as he bounces between absolute psychotic, campy crazy and the everyday mundane tasks of a killer; drugging / killing / burying. Very few people seem to notice the film’s ultra-black humour throughout, again, providing more relief from the shock. Despite the trailer revealing the whole story, and most of the big scenes, when watched in the context of the film everything you see has much more clout. This is true to itself and true to the shock/horror genre – making it a film that you’ll want to watch or avoid like the plague. If it is your bag, it’s surprisingly slick, tight, entertaining, shocking, watchable and unforgettable (all in a car-crash way!). The fact that it’s had the legs (!) to go from the pariah to mainstream says a lot. Well worth a punt.
Drag Me To Hell: An everywoman accidentally insults a gypsy – cue an ancient curse and impending doom for our gal. The five minute prologue is totally old school; OTT music, effects and a huge-ass demon. Fortunately, the entire film stays in this vein, and what I liked best was that while there is the odd big jump the rest of the frights come from good old-fashioned sources; wind, leaves, squeaks and creaks – no wet long-haired lizard women rattling down staircases or other such gimmicks. While it’s Genuinely terrifying this also has some subtly funny motifs like the face-fucking/hair-grabbing corpse, funeral, Goat, Dancing Ghost and even the ridiculous gross outs. There’s the best use of a stapler & ruler I’ve ever seen and a pretty sweet, but obvious, ending. Raimi’s direction is great, really proving he’s a pro by milking every drop of suspense and terror, yet making it fun and watchable – all while he’s pretty much parodying an entire genre. Drag Me to Hell effortlessly walks the line between comedy-stire and terror and I’ve not enjoyed a horror film this much in years. Classic Raimi. Classic horror. Instant Classic, just add blood.