I remember thinking this was quite bad when I saw it on VHS twenty-plus years ago, and it probably is, but all qualitative analysis goes out the window when you’re watching Demons in a sold-out theater with Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin performing the soundtrack live. In fact it’s a solid horror movie once you throw out the idea that characters or dialogue or motivation or logic matter. What matters is that people are trapped in a theater full of demons – most will be killed horribly and/or turned into zombie demons themselves, and a few might survive. And after the credits roll, you forget which ones survived and why, as Goblin performs a full set of hits synched to music videos of kills from Argento, Romero, and Deodato movies.

Internet says the two who escaped through the hole in the roof caused by a helicopter smashing through the roof (!) are Urbano Barberini (the killer cop of Opera, who’d previously motorcycled through the theater cutting down zombies with a sword) and Natasha Hovey (who turns demonic and dies over the end credits). The victims are gathered by invitation of Michele Soavi to watch a movie about a demonic plague caused by a cursed mask, as the same scenario plays out in the theater. Some hopped-up punks break into the place only to become extra victims. A bloody, oozy, gory good time with a big crowd, and even Claudio was laughing at some of the English line deliveries. I haven’t seen Bava/Argento’s part two, and an attempt to make part three resulted in Soavi’s great The Church.

Hovey inviting doom from Soavi:

Victim #1:

Getting to the chopper:

Brutality in front of 4 Flies and No Nukes posters:

Coyote (2010)

Josh Burge plays an unhealthy loser in this, if you can imagine. Josh wakes up next to a body by the river, walks back to the derelict house he stays in, lip-syncs(?) a song by Chance Jones then listens to Paul Simon and Minor Threat and shoots heroin. Wakes up by the river again, steals and pawns a boombox, smokes crack while playing a stolen tape of french songs, becomes a werewolf, goes out and kills a couple guys, just a regular week.


Thing from the Factory by the Field (2022)

“You were like in love with Michael Jackson last year. You’re not deep, or dark or whatever.” Teens starting a band bring the new, square girl in town to a field for an initiation ritual. Liz shoots her crossbow into the air and happens to hit a minor demon, then finishes it off with a rock. Now they’re worried that Liz will go to hell, so the churchy new girl takes charge, saying it’s not a sin to kill for hunting, so someone has to eat it. Not very snappy until the end, the whole thing having been a setup for a McDonald’s joke. Made me feel a little ill, so it’s partly successful.


Visited Joel’s vimeo page… I didn’t watch “Joel Calls Indie Film Type Dudes” yet, but did watch him goofing on Radiohead with an electric toothbrush.

A making-deals-with-demons movie filmed in Spain featuring some really nice beards. Powerful blacksmith lives in seclusion, keeps a demon in a cage – a properly cartoonish red demon with pitchfork and tail – until the ignorant townsfolk break in and muck everything up. Rival demon masquerading as a bald government man is in there, an innocent girl with a dead mom gets mixed up in the mess, and everyone has to go to hell to sort things out.

This looked great, and the director is legit, channeling Danzig on his letterboxd photo… let’s see if we can find his short films.

“Sci Fi Pictures presents”

The Full Moon era has ended. Sci Fi are producers of hundreds of TV movies I’ve never heard of, most of them involving sharks, and a few craptastic sequels (Species 3, Stir of Echoes 2, Firestarter Rekindled, Return of the Living Dead 4+5, lots of Lake Placid movies).

“Written by Courtney Joyner”

A cowriter on part 3, also video store faves Class of 1999 and Doctor Mordrid.

“Directed by Ted Nicolaou”

Ted made Bad Channels, which you’ll recall got mashed up with Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, and also made TerrorVision and the Subspecies movies, so he seems like the right man for the job.

It’s a Christmas movie! The Demonic Toys have been rebranded as Christmas Pals by a toy company run by Vanessa Angel (the fake woman in the 90’s Weird Science TV series). In a Child’s Play / Halloween III mashup, she’s helping a demon destroy humanity, and step one is getting cursed toys into every household.

Angel + Henchman Julian:

Meanwhile across town, Disgruntled Suburban Ruffalo Scientist Bobby Toulon has got a full collection of crucified puppets in his basement, is trying to bring them to life using ol’ Andre’s notes. It’s a funny thing to say about circa-2004 Corey Feldman, but he gives one of the finest performances of the franchise – I like the gruff crank voice he’s doing. He’s assisted by loyal daughter Dani Keaton (already a horror vet from Pinocchio’s Revenge and Carpenter’s Village of the Damned). Everyone else in the movie is Bulgarian, since that is a very cheap place to shoot a movie.

All the nazi-fighting magic is turned into toy company espionage. I don’t love the attempt to cross dark puppet magic with christianity, but whatever. Each side runs into setbacks: Six Shooter blows up the lab and all the puppets catch fire, and Angel is scrambling for a human sacrifice on Christmas eve and has to bleed her receptionist in the iron maiden.

It’s definitely a proper Puppet Master movie, in that it’s crowded with Toulon family mythology bullshit, and feels long at 90 minutes. Angel needs the Toulon secrets to complete her evil plan and kidnaps the daughter, but Corey upgrades the puppets’ weaponry, and they fuck up some demonic toys. The demon (wearing a santa suit, nice) is displeased and drags Angel to hell.

A girl drowning while her neglectful parents fight inside reminds of Don’t Look Now, but Udo Kier appearing with a wormhole does not. Years later, the drowned girl’s twin sister is in college, drawings of wormholes covering her wall, decides to do herself in. The tough girl with the beret from Mayday was in this, according to imdb, so she appeared in two separate movies premiering the same day at Sundance where suicidal girls travel to fantasy realms filled with transformed people from their lives.

Back in the real-world-or-is-it?, Margaret (Young, starring in the movie she wrote/directed) visits her parents, still wasted and fighting, hangs out with some old friends. There’s lots of metaphysics in this, maybe aimed at Donnie Darko fans. By the time she’s walking down a Caligari-shaped, Argento-lit hallway towards demon Udo Kier, it all looked pretty cool but I wasn’t too interested anymore. She has to defeat three demons in a certain time, first her mom in a house of sand, doing that fantasy thing where every line is slow and portentous. Margaret trades her shoes for a glass of water, I think door #2 is her childhood home and door #3 is herself, then she banishes Udo and chills at home with a Panda Bear song.

A very honestly eccentric movie. It’s not a horror comedy, but with that title and concept it can’t be intended seriously either. Or maybe it was meant to be a horror comedy (early on, after dissolving a traveler inside its yellow-acid body, the bed eats a bottle of pepto) but forgot to write any jokes. Everyone acts stoned in this, so maybe that’s a clue.

The narrator is a guy who’s been dead for sixty years whose soul is trapped in a painting overlooking a bed, created by a demon to seduce a mortal girl, whom he accidentally fucked to death, and now the lonely bed feeds on hippies who wander in and sit on it, getting dissolved to bones. After a long period of hunger, it eats a bunch of hippies at once and finally falls asleep, which allows the guy in the painting to speak.

I guess the final girl who completes the ritual that banishes the bed is Susan, but there’s also a Sharon and a Diane, and I got them confused. Susan’s brother who gets his hands dissolved to bones was later in some proper movies, and the boy in the painting was apparently a famous rock critic, but otherwise everyone here including the movie itself vanished until the cult kids rediscovered it in the 2000’s.

Haiti, 1962: a guy dies after walking in shoes cursed with ashes of puffer-fish- innards, becomes part of an army of twilight zombies cutting cane, but awakens from his half-life and returns home.

Decades later, a rich white girl comes along with her petty problems and lack of belief or understanding, causing someone to ruin their life. The white girl is boarding-school Fanny, who befriends Haitian zombi child Melissa. Heartbroken after being dumped, Fanny visits Melissa’s mambo aunt Katy, paying an absurd amount for an improper ritual which accidentally summons the demon god Baron Samedi from that Goldeneye game.

Child (with killer phone case):

Zombi:

Violet Lucca in Reverse Shot:

The Baron taunts Katy for disrespecting her father, and, to use a Lynchian expression, something really bad happens to the girl and the woman. (What, exactly, we do not know, except that they are both being punished.) In the final shot, Mélissa emerges from an endless darkness wearing a white dress, the color of Dambala; for the rest of the West, it will likely read a symbol of purity. It’s perhaps the only image that could make sense at that point, unsatisfying as it may be. Receiving closure from relationships, stories, or life isn’t universally guaranteed.

Nocturama reference:

Mambo X-fade:

Released from church school on vacation, all the students immediately steal from the market, assault women, and generally terrorize the town. Three dim individuals get lost in the country and find a barn to bed down. In the night, a crone hits on Philosopher Khoma Brutus, and flies away with him when he refuses her, but he knocks her down and beats her senseless with her own broom – crisis averted. I mean, the old witch transforms into a beautiful young girl, but that’s probably nothing to worry about.

But back home, the Michael Shannon-looking rector sends Brutus to give last rites to a landowner’s lovely daughter, who was beaten nearly to death by unknown assailants in the night. Brutus is terrified, tries to escape the whole way back to the farmhouse and… stuff like this starts happening:

Also, cranes!

The now-dead girl’s very unhappy father locks Brutus in the chapel for three nights to pray for her soul. Night one goes okay – she rises from her coffin, but the magic chalk circle he draws around himself keeps her away. “A cossack fears nothing,” he swears drunkenly to the guards… survives an all-night assult by her floating coffin the next night, but the stress turns his hair white, and he tries again to escape.

He’ll get a thousand gold pieces if he survives night three, goes into the chapel drunk as hell, then the movie pulls out all the stops. The effects are just great, like Goofball Cocteau. Shadows and projections and disembodied arms and skeletons, dwarves and wall-crawling demons and many-eyeballed goblins, attack from all sides, but he’s safe in his chalk circle. Then everyone steps the fuck back when she summons Viy, a golden-eyed giant, and when the foolish cossack locks eyes with the beast, his soul is lost and the monsters descend on him.

Russia’s first(?) horror movie, supposedly based on the same Gogol story as Black Sunday. Lead actor Leonid Kuravlyov came up with Tarkovsky, but only appeared in his student film, and is better known for starring in the sci-fi comedy Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future. One of our codirectors died in 1984 – the other, Kropachyov, did production design for Hard to Be a God. Art and effects by Russian animation legend Aleksandr Ptushko, whose 1935 stop-motion feature The New Gulliver sounds cool.

The movie opens very promisingly, with an owl… then things get nuts real fast. A team of knights are led by a Gilliam-looking toadie to a cave full of witches – innocent-looking, but supposedly cursed by the cross-shaped mark under their feet. All-out massacre ensues, beheadings from Knight-POV, the camera inside their helmets with cross-shaped viewports, as a Philip Glass tune plays. After stumbling across Soavi last SHOCKtober with The Sect, I was right to check out his other work, though are all his movies about basement-dwelling satanic cults?

Soavi worked with Gilliam on Baron Munchausen the year before this:

Flash-forward a few hundred years, it’s the first day for church librarian Tomas Arana (a cook on the Red October the following year). He’s almost hit by stuff falling off an art restoration scaffold (shades of Don’t Look Now), later makes out with the artist Barbara Cupisti (Argento’s Opera), then finds an ancient parchment and imagines it could be the secret to a lost science that could turn him into a god – not bad for a first day! Genius codebreaker Tomas figures out that the ancient runes are just mirror-writing, sneaks into the church at night and unleashes demons. These crazy demonic effects scenes are where Soavi’s movies really excel, laying all other late-80’s movie demons to waste, and with his crazed angles and quick, precise camera moves, it feels like Sam Raimi must’ve been a fan.

Back to the plot, Tomas is now obviously possessed and creeping on 13-year-old Asia Argento, daughter of the churchwarden, who sneaks out to discos at night. Her dad Roberto Corbiletto (Fellini’s Voice of the Moon the next year) has also lost his mind, suicides by jackhammer on the cursed cornerstone in front of horrified priest Hugh Quarshie (Nightbreed), his blood setting an ancient rube goldberg into motion, locking everyone including a wedding-photo party and a class of kids inside the church.

Asia wearing Eastern Europe:

I can’t tell what old bishop Feodor Chaliapin (Inferno) is up to – he understands what’s happening, but doesn’t appear to be helping. Meanwhile, innocents are being abducted by caped demons or eaten by giant lizards, a woman cheerfully beheads her husband, and another escapes into subway tunnels only to get mooshed by a train.

Enraged Corbiletto:

Father Corbiletto is alive again, I guess, and has gone fully mental, kills the schoolteacher in a rage – none of the kids seem to notice, since they are in the pews bonding over Nietzsche quotes (seriously). The restoration artist is raped by a goat-devil. Fortunately, Asia remembers the opening scene from a millennium before she was born, and tells Priest Hugh that if he pulls the murder-dildo from the skull of the church architect in a basement crypt, the whole church will collapse, killing everyone and ending the curse. As the bodies of the damned rise in a giant mud-dripping mass, he triggers the ancient self-destruct sequence as Asia escapes.

The good content you crave:

The dubbing is appalling, but the music (by Glass, Keith Emerson, and Goblin) is very good – demons whisper from the soundtrack, a welcome relief from the screaming strings of the netflix movies. Filmed in Hungary, since it was hard to find any churches willing to let them shoot all this satanic shit. Originally posited as Demons 3, then rewritten when Soavi came aboard – Cannibal Ferox auteur Umberto Lenzi would finally crank out a third Demons a couple years later.