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Old 07-23-2006, 05:21 PM
 
Scored: 5
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Default Demonia



Reviewer: John
Review Date: April 21, 2002

Released by: Shriek Show
Release date: 6/26/2001
MSRP: $24.95
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9: Yes



Lucio Fulci has got to be one of the greatest directors ever in the horror genre. Maybe not to the casual horror fan who ranks Sixth Sense as the scariest film of all time, but to the chosen ones who recognize that horror movies were made before Scream or the WB sitcoms. In one of his final films, Fulci shows us glimpses of a director who may be past his prime with Demonia. Knowing that Fulci directed classics such as The Beyond, The New York Ripper, and Zombie, diehard fans might be the only ones who can appreciate Demonia.

The Story

inline Image The film starts out in Sicily, the year is 1846. A group of five nuns are being led by an angry crowd into a tomb that has five crosses erect inside of it. The crowd forces each of the nuns, who have an odd looking mark on each of their foreheads, up onto the crosses and proceed to nail them to the cross. After all of the nuns are crucified, the mob leaves the tomb since justice has now been served.

We then fast forward to the year 1990 in Toronto. A group of people are circled around the table performing a sťance. Liza (Meg Register) has a vision of one of the nuns being killed and passes out at the table. When she awakens, Professor Malcolm Evans (Brett Halsey) tells her to forget about sťances or black magic and to focus on the archeological dig they have coming up in Sicily.

inline Image When the crew arrives in Sicily, they unpack and begin to explore the grounds. Liza, who should be excited about her first dig, feels some sort of connection to the ruins. She sets out to explore and very easily finds where the nuns where crucified. At the same time, the Sicily locals are trying to persuade Professor Evans and his crew not to explore the grounds.

We learn that the nuns practiced devil worship, had orgies in their chambers, and murdered locals. As the crew continues to dig, Liza's visions get more intense. The spirits of the corrupted nuns are set loose to wreck havoc on the town. One by one death begins to claim victims. The nuns begin to serve their own justice to the modern day locals and curious archeologists. Led by Inspector Carter (Lucio Fulci), the strong arms of the law try to crack one of the most bizarre cases they have ever seen.

This movie starts out very slow. It has a series of flashbacks to the nuns and gives insight to who they really were, then switches to the archeological crew cutting loose by singing, dancing, and drinking around a fire. I have to wander if there were some creative conflicts on the set. The first half of the movie seems totally different than the second half. I understand that a film has to set up the story, but I was just plain bored at times. There are scenes that are obvious fillers to get the movie to full length status. After the story is setup, we then begin to see some glimpses of gore. Some of the death scenes were a bit far fetched, and a low budget certainly affected them.



The acting was typical Fulci. Meg Register was cast in the lead role after Catriona MacColl declined. Meg does a good job with what she has and is certainly one to look at when she is onscreen. I certainly enjoyed Fulci's cameo as Inspector Carter. I don't know if it was intentional, but I would see little things that reminded me of other horror movies. The campfire scene sort of had a Friday the 13th feel (though not nearly as cool), some of the shots made me think the crew was on Antonio Bay from The Fog, and one death reminded me of April Fools Day. Little things in the second half of the movie really made it seem like an 80's slasher, which for nostalgia's sake, was pretty cool.


Image Quality

inline Image This is my first Shriek Show DVD and I am very impressed. It is obvious while watching Demonia, that the less than stellar picture is due to poor filming rather than a poor transfer. There is some grain and specks throughout the picture, but nothing too distracting. I have not seen a VHS copy of this, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I have to give Shriek Show credit for a job well done.

Sound

I have heard some great Dolby Digital Mono tracks. This one is average at best. I had to turn up the volume to hear some dialogue then turn it down for screams. The music was mediocre, but it too was a little quiet.

Supplemental Material

inline Image One of the coolest things I have seen on a disc to date is on Demonia. Let's be honest, who doesn't watch Fulci movies for the kills? For this, Shriek Show introduces Scream Access. In addition the Scene Access we find on most DVD's, Shriek show catered to the horror fan with Scream Access. The chapter will not begin at the start of a scene, but at the beginning of one of the deaths. I think there was an Easter Egg similar to this on the Halloween Limited Edition set, but it has been taken a step farther here. There is also a Brett Halsey interview, but unfortunately it is not live, but text. A Fulci biography, Fulci filmography and Fulci Lives round out the supplements.

Fulci Lives is a behind the scenes look at one of the best kills in Demonia. I hate it when someone gives something cool away in a movie that I have not seen, so I will not say which kill. For those of you who have seen Demonia, this is the only kill that is witnessed by a little boy (picture of boy is seen in original review). The low quality of the video and sound are reasons that this extra didn't leave much of an impression on me. Of course, everyone is speaking in Italian, so I have no idea what they are discussing. As far as I know they could be swapping recipies and telling one another how to get more distance on their golf swings (though I doubt it).

The entire extra lasts just under four and a half minutes, with the latter half being an interview with the great Lucio Fulci. He is interviewed in English, but his accent is extremely thick. Do any of you remember when Roberto Benigni won Best Actor for his work in Life Is Beautiful? Do you remember what he said? Could you understand him? Well, that is kind of what this interview is like. You can get bits and pieces of what Fulci is trying to say, but not everything. One thing I did get out of this is Fulci's casual attitude. From this brief interview, it seems that Fulci was a very down to earth person. He doesn't convey any type of arrogance. He seems like a guy who is doing what he loves and doesn't mind talking with others about it.

I applaud Shrek Show for putting this on the disc for fans to see. It just didn't do a whole lot for me. I would say that die-hard Fulci fans would need it for their collection, but it is not essential viewing.

Final Thoughts

So here's the bottom line: When I show this movie to my friends, I am going to tell them the back story and start the movie about 45 minutes in. I love what Shriek Show did with the disc and I am looking forward to what the do with Zombie. Die hard Fulci fans will get this movie to complete their collections. Casual Italian horror fans can probably find something better to spend their money on.

Rating

Movie - C-
Image Quality - B-
Sound - B
Supplements - C+


Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Not Rated
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital Mono

Supplements
  • Scene Access
  • Fulci Lives
  • Fulci Filmography
  • Fulci Biography
  • Scream Access
  • Brett Halsey Interview

Other Pictures

 

 

Extras
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