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Demoni II - Il Succubi Retorno (1987)
"Don't tell me you want to see this stuff."
A worthless follow-up by men who really should have known better. The opening shot - an extreme close-up of a blood stained knife - suggests an Argentoesque giallo. It's not to be. Instead, it's an anemic re-run of the first film boasting some of the most ridiculous contrivances ever to disgrace an Italian horror film. By this stage of the game, the second wave of Italian horror - initiated by the global success of Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 in 1979 - had, like its 60s predecessor, run its natural course and the industry was beginning to stagnate. With the exception of Argento's solo work (which itself was deteriorating) and the work of Argento's other protoge Michele Soavi, there was little of any worth happening in the Italian exploitation cinema by the end of the 1980s.
This decline in standards is reflected in the lousy acting by all involved and the generally shoddy approach to plotting. Several equally uninvolving plot threads compete for the attention, the end result being not the multi-headed narrative that Bava et al were doubtless striving for, but a confused patchwork of half-baked ideas and disjointed set-pieces. Drawing from several frames of reference - Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Parasite Murders (1974), etc - Demoni 2 strives to be a pastiche of contemporary horror trends and ends up merely looking foolish.
There are one or two visually impressive moments that make one all the more sad that Argento and Bava simply didn't try harder; the possessed Sally's first appearance, scored to an unsettling mix of Dead Can Dance's haunting song Ascending and partygoers warbling Happy Birthday; the second use of DCD's ambient gothic as a pack of demons advance on a couple trapped in a lift; and the bizarre finale in which Sally appears on a bank of TV monitors and is destroyed when the sets are smashed by the bland hero. Moments like these hint at a certain artistic ingenuity at work, but it's all wasted on the most perfunctory plotting and feeble development.
Italian horror has long been recognised - and indeed loved - for the occassional idiocy of its plotting and laxness of narrative cohesion. Demoni 2 takes these often endearing traits to torturous extremes - why does a woman keep a handy vial of acid in her bathroom cabinet? How does a heavily pregnant woman (who spends most of the film threatening to give birth) manage to absail down the side of the doomed tower block? What the hell was Sally doing in those TV sets at the end?
noting perhaps the lousy reviews and mindful of his subsequent falling out with
Bava, revamped the ailing series into the far more impressive La Chiesa
(1988), formerly Demon Cathedral, directed by Michele Soavi.
Bava himself went on to endure a career that simply fell apart, releasing one
of his films, The Ogre as Demons 3 in English
speaking territories, while the ever optimistic Umberto Lenzi tried to jump
the stalled bandwagon (and missed) with the entirely awful Demoni III
(1991). It's a sad reflection on the then state of the Italian horror industry
that the original Demoni
(1985), a film that wasn't that great to begin with, should have sparked off
so many imitators, sequels and rip-offs.
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