If you didn’t like Demons, Lamberto Bava’s horror film about clawed creatures attacking people in a movie theater, then you’re not going to like Demons 2, plain and simple. Demons 2 has the same format as the original, and Bava changes the formula very little throughout this sequel outing. The lead-up is slow and plodding, the dance grooves are still here in the form of The Smiths, The Cult, and Art of Noise, and the characters are just as scattered and unfocused. For those that loved Bava’s cheesy foray into zombie-like territory, though, Demons 2 amps up the corniness tenfold with even more weird happenings, this time in an apartment complex.
Like Demons, Bava starts the film the night of the demon attack, choosing to splinter his focus to a group of people living in the building. Sally (Coralina Cataldi Tassoni) is having a birthday party at her apartment, a night to herself with her friends; a little boy is left alone in his apartment watching a meta film about demons; George (David Knight) and Hannah (Nancy Brilli) want to have a nice quiet dinner alone while discussing their future child; and Hank (Bobby Rhodes) has a bunch of people in the gym pumping iron and sweating gross amounts. All of this is about to change, though, once Sally watches the demon movie on the TV to its conclusion, because the demon steps out of the TV and claws her!
Bava is still working with meta themes in Demons 2, especially with television and movies. There’s a sense that he’s using TV as a metaphor for danger and violence, that the horrors that we watch can sometimes step out of the fictional world and into the real one. However, once the demons do make their way into the real world, that theme is lost since Bava never really returns to the idea of televisions until the final scene. Instead, Demons 2 is more about doing new things to the people trapped in the apartment complex, stuff that Bava wasn’t able to do in the first film.
But Demons 2 is significantly lacking a defining storyline. The focus is all over the place, especially in the first half hour or so. Bava jumps from the birthday party to George and Hannah to a man soliciting a prostitute, never really cementing what Demons 2 wants its focal point to be. George and Hannah do get most of the screentime, but when Bava switches unnecessarily to punks driving to the apartment complex only to have them crash just outside, it feels like a waste of time. Sure, it’s to circumvent those expectations from the last film – in that one, the punks were a big part of the story – but at the same time, Demons 2 is bloated with excess subplots it doesn’t need.
Other than that, though, the film itself is a lot of fun. This time around, the demons have some new abilities, including releasing their blood to burn through floors and infect people who happen to touch it. Not only that, dogs can now become crazy demons as well. And in one eventful scene, a little boy births a tiny Gremlin-like demon that runs around trying to scratch Hannah. Bava carries this on for far too long, but it’s still a moment that must be seen.
Unfortunately, it seems Bava was less interested in showing the grotesqueries of the demons this time around, because oddly more time is spent on the humans attempting to blockade themselves in the parking garage than it is on the special effects of the demons. The special effects are still good, especially the melting ones with Sally; but Bava doesn’t do as many close-up shots, nor does he take the time to build suspenseful moments. Demons 2 is about the shock, but it is also clearly about following up a successful, money-making film to make even more money.
Demons 2 is an enjoyable film, but at the same time it does not live up to the legacy of Bava’s original. Everything done here is derivative of Demons, done in a different fashion but not as fun, frenetic, or frightening. But for a cheese-filled romp through an apartment complex (one of the pulls of this film), Demons 2 is a good way to waste 90 minutes, even if does lack a satisfying conclusion to Bava’s duology.