When the announcement was made, I barely noticed any other guest speakers after Lamberto Bava's name popped out of the screen and hit me in the eyeballs. A chance to meet Lamberto Bava? Oh hell yes. I practically ran down the street like a maniac to my storage shed to get my VHS copy of Demons for him to sign. So I left the house at 6:30pm for a show that started at 9pm. Not because it's very far, but because I'm a freak and would rather camp outside the New Bev for 2 + hours than risk getting a shitty seat or worse, it selling out. There had been rumors of Asia Argento making an appearance which isn't really a selling point for me, but I know that it's a deal breaker for a lot of fans. It could have easily resulted in sell out. That ended up not happening, but it was a full house. They opened the doors early so we could start filling to seats. I secured my place in the front row which is ideal with guest speakers I've come to realize. I've been re-reading Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies and writing down every bad movie mentioned for reference, so that helped me pass the time. As the theater filled we were elbow to elbow with strangers, not as intrusive at the New Beverly as it would be in just about any other theater. There's a comradery amongst fans that creates a friendly environment. As the guest speakers it arrive it's announced that Lamberto caught a fever and was unable to attend. I was so grief stricken I almost fainted. I even turned to the guy next to me and exclaimed and outburst of sorrow. Then they started to bring them up, Geretta Geretta and Bobby Rhodes, who I embarrassingly only knew as "Rosemary" and "Tony" prior to that night, but was pleasantly surprised to see their familiar faces, Sergio Stivaletti who did the make-up for Demons and about a hundred other amazing Italian horror movies and then to my shock and delight, Claudio-fucking-Simonetti. I gasped. CLAUDIO SIMONETTI. One of my all time favorite film composers. Goblin was my gateway drug into Italian film music which is a genre commonly heard in the soundtrack of my life.
So they gave an epic Q&A. Someone asked how Stivaletti created the glowing eye effect back in 1985 without the aid of computers. He revealed he used scotchlite, a reflective tape, cutting pieces and placing them over the demons eyes. WOW! Educational. When they were walking back to their seats I managed to tackle Claudio and Geretta to have them sign my copy of Demons. They were both very friendly and accepted my praise graciously. Unfortunately I wasn't able to wrangle Bobby Rhodes or Sergio Stivaletti before the lights went out and the movie was starting. Ah, bummer.
Now let's get to the movie! A mysterious man with a half metal plated face hands out movie passes in a subway for a theater called the Metropol. We don't know what the movie is but our leading lady requests a second pass so she can bring a friend. The two girlies arrive and we're given brief introductions to our cast of victims. Most notably the pimp two prostitutes, having Geretta and Bobby in the audience was a real treat! In the center of the lobby of the Metropol is an awkward statue of a knight (or something) on a motorcycle holding a creepy steel mask. Rosemary jokingly puts the mask on, to which Tony commands her to stop triflin. As she puts the mask back she realizes she has a cut on her face, uh oh. As they watch the film it appears to be a horror movie about four young people in a cemetery who find Nostradamas' tomb, read some incantation on it and turn into demons. During the film Rosemary's face starts bleeding so she excuses herself. In the bathroom he face basically explodes into a festering pustule of gore and nastiness...and we have our first (and best) Demon. Rosemary turns into crazed reptile faced creature of terror. Every victim who meets her claw or fang turns into a like minded Demon. So begins an epidemic.
Insanely gruesome special effects courtesy of Sergio Stivaletti. The film moves at about a million miles an hour once it gains momentum. We're treated to all kinds of fun 80's mayhem, action, sexiness, intentional and unintentional humor, a Rudy Ray Moore-esque pimp, and PLENTY of violence. On top of Simonetti's infectious synthesized score, we also have a plethora of popular rock music by the likes of Motley Crue, Billy Idol and Rick Springfield. There are the obligatory 80's drug addicted punks and rest assure that the motorcycle in the lobby doesn't go to waste. Demons follows the film within a film canon, which has always been a favorite of mine, and really is ideal for a theatrical setting. I always thought that perhaps Demons influenced the 1987 film Anguish in which a murderer goes on a killing spree under the control of a strange horror movie being screened. The same goes for 1991's Popcorn, another classic example of video age dreck that features a possessed film. Demons still runs circles around these movies.
The audience was alive with laughter and celebration. It was truly a glorious occasion. After Demons there was a quick break and then we jumped into the second film. But not before Mr. Clu Gulager came and sat next to me. This may be no big deal to the regulars of the New Beverly since he's apparently been attending the theater on the norm since it's opening in 1978, but to a new girl from a one horse town like Panama City Florida, sitting next to one of the greatest character actors of all time is a pretty big deal. Granted, I've seen him there every time I've gone, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to speak to the man and have a satisfying if not brief conversation about the theater itself, sequels and David F. Friedman. Wow! Then the second picture started...
Demons 2 follows the formula of the first film although this time the movie is being aired on TV instead an unknown theater. It all takes place in an apartment building which we later find out is attached to the TV station that the film is being aired from. A neurotic young woman named Sally is having a birthday party. She's played by Coralina Cataldi, who's like the 80's giallo version of Pheobe Cates. I remember her most notably for her role in Argento's Opera. The whole knife-in-the-mouth-necklace scene is emblazoned in my memory forever. So Sally isn't coping well with her birthday, or something. It's never really made clear, but she's definitely on edge. Every little thing makes her throw a temper tantrum ending with her locking herself in the bedroom. While her friends are in the living room partying she's planted in front of the TV watching THE MOVIE, a demon pops out the screen and gets 'er. It's Demon time. Sally, much like Rosemary, turns into a badass demon and goes on a rampage
We also get to see this...
Turn into this...
We also get one of these...
The demon child also spawns a cute little puppet monster creature ala gremlins-munchie-ghoulies-critters-what-have-you. Bobby Rhodes returns in Demons 2 to serve some much needed demon ass kicking. Not as the same character of course, this time his pimp persona is delivered in the form of a bossy gym instructor. I haven't even mentioned the two main characters, George and Hannah. Probably because they're a little on the boring side. Although Nancy Brilli as Hannah may just be the prettiest little pregnant lady I ever did see. The two have to fight their way through the mayhem to save their unborn child. Charming as they may be, Sally reigns supreme in coolness as did Rosemary in original. I paid to see demons dammit!
A darn good sequel if I do say so myself. After the movie Clu turned to me and said "So what'd ya think?" and I said "it was great! I loved it!", he said "Me too. It's my favorite of the two." WOW, so there you have it folks.
Things I learned tonight:
*Claudio Simonetti is pretty handsome for his age
*He wears a t-shirt for his own band. Which doesn't do anything for him. In fact it's kinda dorky. That would be like me wearing a shirt with my own face on it.
*Scotchlite is the cheapest way to create glowing demon eyes.
*Bobby Rhodes' awesome Rudy Ray Moore voice definitely isn't his own since he barely speaks English.
* Clu Gulager prefers Demons 2 to the original.
I might disagree ever so slightly with Clu, but that's not to say I didn't adore Demons 2. I love them both but the original has a mysticism and finesse that can't quite be matched. It's a classic and I would encourage anyone who hasn't seen it to drop everything and get on that shit!
Over all it was a most excellent event! All that was missing was Lamberto Bava and maybe some William Castle-esque shenanigans to make it even more festive. Ahh well, you can't win them all! But you can come pretty close when it comes to the New Beverly!