Demonia (1990)
By: Dr. Obrero  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Media Blasters (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.66:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 1.0. 90 Minutes
The Movie
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Brett Halsey, Meg Register, Lino Salemme, Christina Englehardt, Pascal Druant, Grady Thomas Clarkson, Ettore Comi, Carla Cassola, Michael Aronin, Al Cliver, Isabella Corradini, Paola Cozzo
Screenplay: Lucio Fulci, Piero Regnoli
Country: Italy
Once more unto the breach, or at least the variable output in the long, and not always distinguished career of the dearly departed Lucio (R.I.P), Demonia followed such previous outings as Il Fantasma di Sodoma and Quando Alice Ruppe lo Specchio and preceded others such as Voci dal Profondo, Un Gatto nel Cervello: I Volte nel Terrore (a godawful bloodthirsty injoke that had braindead gorehounds shedding tears of gratitude whilst those of boredom welled up in me), La Casa del Tempo and Le Porte del Silenzio. In other words, it came fair square in the middle of the worst period of an at best, uneven directorial career.

At the time of it's inception and execution director Fulci was clearly on the downslope of a very full life, and whilst the films around it illustrate that graphically, Demonia actually has some points to recommend it. It's certainly not up to the old boy's vintage, those early Eighties salad days of wine and roses that saw output incorporating Lo Squartatore di New York, L'Aldila, Paura nella Citta dei Morti Viventi and Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitrio, or even going further back, the '72 masterpiece Non si Sevizia un Paperino, but it at least offers more than lame outtakes and a plot stringing gore scenes together for the sake of it. Demonia tells of an ill-fated archaeological expedition into the Valley of Temples in southeast Sicily led by Professor Malcolm Evans (Brett Halsey). When former student, Liza Harris (Meg Register, whom Fulci cast as his lead after Catriona MacColl declined), on her very first dig is drawn to the ruins of a 16th Century convent and its ominous legend circa late 1400's, the spirit of a crucified nun is inadvertently unleashed, resulting in possession and subsequent grisly revenge wreaked upon a small Sicilian town. Transpires that descendents of the inhabitants of said town killed a trio of nuns much given to indulging in such sins as sex, murder and baby burning - just having sooo much fun that when the less than thrilled townsfolk brought it all to an abrupt, premature and terminal climax - they were somewhat unhappy. hence the desire for revenge. Liza's obsession with uncovering the truth takes her deeper into the forbidden ruins, further from sanity and into confrontation with local villagers driven to protect the entombed secrets of their ancestors.

Another cult classic from Lucio Fulci, the Godfather of Gore, with all the trappings of Italian 'B' horror - blood, gore and extreme violence? Well, no, not really, but sumptuously shot, and quite stylishly scored, Demonia is one of Fulci's better efforts from the embers of his career. Okay, that's not saying much I grant you, and this is not in remotely the same class as his best works, but although the acting is plodding, and the scripting at best serviceable, the old gorehound directs with more alacrity than is often the case. Playing is in all honesty dismal, though on the bright side, Meg Register is appealing enough eye-candy when onscreen. Scripting is somewhat confused and appears to have been largely discounted by Fulci as a viable part of the movie-making process by this stage of his oeuvre. For the more bloodthirsty, my suggestion would be a re-watch of Un Gatto nel Cervello: I Volte nel Terrore, the only violence here is a tongue nailed to a barrel an, eye-gouging and an Inferno in Diretta-style decapitation between two springy trees. Furthermore, the few gore effects on show are laughable, it would appear the effects budget was about $3 and a subway token, but for die-hard Fulci aficionados, completists and the tolerant, Demonia is worth a casual glance, as it is a pleasingly photographed, picturesque and surprisingly agreeable picture.
Media Blasters' Shriek Show DVD version presents Demonia in non- anamorphic ersatz -widescreen, ostensibly letterboxed at 1.66:1, though a number of compositions suggest a matted fullscreen transfer to this reviewer. The print used is reasonable shape; whilst picture quality has a slightly faded, washed-out appearance, there is little grain and a few specks sprinkled throughout the picture; minimal blemishes and nothing too distracting. The colours in the film are fantastic, vivid and if the image transfer is not great, their very vibrancy actually tends to mask that. Shriek Show deserve credit for a job well done as the film wasn't exactly perfect in any previous incarnation.
Media Blasters' Shriek Show DvD version presents Demonia in Dolby Digital Mono. The soundtrack is very clear, though fidelity is limited and being Mono it fails to excite on any level. Some dialogue is too quiet, and ambient sounds consequently too loud. The music too was a little quiet.
Extra Features
Supplementals are pretty mediocre, comprising an interview transcript running to a couple of pages with star Brett Hasley. It says nothing of note. There's also the four-minute clip entitled 'Fulci Lives', a dire, shot on camcorder slice of behind the scenes footage showing the preparation of the decapitation between two trees sequence. This can also be found on Anchor Bay's The Beyond DVD. There's also a reasonably comprehensive Fulci biography.
The Verdict
This reviewer's not a huge fan of Lucio Fulci, but admittedly partial to a smattering of his oeuvre, so Demonia, taken relatively works well enough as a one-shot viewing experience, though probably doesn't possess much replay value for all but the committed (should be?). The visual and aural transfers are relatively passable, though hardly outstanding and this is definitely one for the dedicated fan only.
Movie Score
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