Steve Balshaw on DEMONS and LAMBERTO BAVA
Lamberto Bava was a man born with very big shoes to fill. He was the third generation of Bavas to enter the Italian film industry. His Grandfather, Eugenio was a pioneering cinematographer and special effects man on such early classics of the silent era as QUO VADIS and CABIRIA. His father, Mario, invariably referred to as the Maestro, by all of those who worked with him, was a much-respected cinematographer, optical effects wizard, and of course the director of a whole series of seminal and hugely influential Italian genre movies, including BLACK SUNDAY, BLACK SABBATH, KILL BABY KILL, HATCHET FOR A HONEYMOON. PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, DANGER: DIABOLIK, BAY OF BLOOD, and RABID DOGS. Filmmakers influenced by Mario Bava range from Fellini to Scorcese, from Ridley Scott to Tim Burton. His early giallo, BAY OF BLOOD is generally regarded as the first true Slasher film. His final completed film, RABID DOGS takes place for much of its running time in a car containing five people - a remarkable technical achievement in an era before the tiny digital cameras we now take for granted.
Lamberto Bava started out as an assistant director to his father, on such classics as DANGER DIABOLIK, KILL BABY KILL and LISA AND THE DEVIL. He also carried out a similar role for Ruggero Deodato on ULTIMO MONDO CANNIBALE and the infamous CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and for Dario Argento on both INFERNO and TENNEBRAE. This, then, is a man with serious genre form, major technical chops, and cinema, as it were, in his blood. His first film as a director, the eccentric cult giallo MACABRE, paired him with Pupi Avati, Writer / director of the classic HOUSE WITH LAUGHING WINDOWS, and his producer brother Antonio Avati. But it was Argento who would also go on to mentor Lamberto and serve as his producer on the films that would make him famous - or possibly infamous - DEMONS and DEMONS 2.
It would take a brave man - or a barefaced liar - to describe either film as a masterpiece of cinema, but they are, beyond a doubt genre classics, well-deserving of their huge cult status. With their ad hoc, almost random plotting, absurd dialogue, totally (and quite literally) disposable characters, hideous fashions, bombastic soundtracks featuring such worthies as Billy Idol, Motley Crue and Saxon, and garish gore effects by the legendary Sergio Stivaletti, they could only have been spawned in the mid-80s.
They have a full-on, throw-in-everything-and-see-what-happens fever-dream craziness that seems in keeping with the excesses of that coke-fuelled, over-lit, over-loud, entirely out of control decade. They are the scabby underbelly of all of those Yuppie Nightmare movies made back then. They are the kinds of films Patrick Bateman would watch. And in their outrageous, high-octane, splattery strangeness, they are genuinely, for good or ill, unlike anything else. No wonder they are so loved by the fans. Little surprise then, that when we asked our Grimmlins which films they would most like to see screened in the opulent Art Deco surroundings of the Dancehouse theatre, there was one request that came in loud and clear: the DEMONS FILMS!
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, for one night only, the Dancehouse will be home to the Metropol Movie Theatre. Collect your tickets at the box office. But be prepared: this is one screening where all Hell might, quite literally, break loose.
DEMONS & DEMONS 2. Remastered. Screening: 29th March. 7.30 pm. The Dancehouse Theatre, MCR. TICKEST AND INFO HERE.