Demonia (1988) is a film that attempts to answer that age old question that has always plagued mankind- What happens when you crucify a bunch of Satanic nuns and then let archeologists start digging around the local ruins?
Santa Rosalita had one of the worst convents ever because its nuns were the most Devil worshipping, openly fornicating, baby burning nuns the 1400s had. So, the nuns were all crucified and entombed by the townspeople, and as time went on, the locals abided by the superstitious legends and were always wary of strangers. And, it is strangers that begin to ruffle their feathers when an archeological team begins digging around, and one of them, Liza (who looks like some hybrid of Josie Bisset and Debbie Harry), cannot help but stick her nose in the nunnery ruins because she keeps having visions and nightmares of the nuns death. Naturally, once they start disturbing the land people start to die- cats attack their old lady owners, drunks fall into pits of spikes, and butchers are attacked by their own sides of beef... rednecks are strangled by their own mullets, my mom drowns in a box of wine, Fabio's pecks explode, and I am killed by my own sarcasm.
I've always had a love-hate relationship with Luci Fulci. Well honesty its more like a like/despise relationship. I do recognize why in his prime he was a revered horror director, having a signature somber dreamlike style. If fellow Italian horror maestro Dario Argento was the psychedelic dose of the film world, Fulci was the barbiturate pill. I think he made two great horror films, Don't Torture a Duckling and Zombie, but the rest of his work, for me, is either terrible like Manhattan Baby, House by the Cemetery or deeply flawed in some way The Beyond, The Psychic, New York Ripper. Most of all, I think he was a guy whose vision was limited to sequences. His films would usually have some great moments, but in the large sense weren't fully cohesive, lacking effort in plot and characters, padded out, in need of some extra tweaking to make the incidental scenes involving. Hitchcock was someone who would come up with his thrill sequences and flesh them out before the story, but he rarely skimped on making the plot just as important as his big payoff suspense scenes.
Anyway, whatever the master touch Fulci had in the 70's was largely gone by the time he made Demonia, and even Fucli freaks rightfully admit it is a weak piece of work. It is amazing that he took what was a tired plotline, the old "don't disturb the sacred ground" bit, and still managed to have a story that makes little sense and is asinine. He even recycles the old psychics roundtable freak out he used to start City of the Living Dead. It is just full of scenes that either don't add up or are laughably cheap and ill conceived. The archeologist on a house boat sees a translucent vision of a nude women, a Devil nun, that shoots him with a harpoon gun. Well, the harpoon gun was translucent too, so how exactly does that work? Liza is the only archeologist I know who would walk into a crypt, wide eyed and shudder "Oh my god." when seeing a couple of withered skeletons laying around. Honey, you are an archeologist; skeletons are your bread and butter. The Cat Lady approaches Liza at the hall of records. Cat Lady stands at the end of a hallway, and tells Liza to speak quietly so they wont get found out. Well, I cant whisper when you're 50 feet away, if you don't want me to speak up, how about walking over here?
Oh you think I'm done?... Tack onto that a dull attempt at a subplot in the last 20 mins involving the murders and the local detective (Fulci , himself) believing the professor is a suspect. Liza walks into the Cat Lady's apartment and trips over a cat. Fulci cannot even manage decent continuity because the cats hissing reaction to being stepped on is clearly from an entirely different location. Its a film where we follow our main underdeveloped character, either wandering wide-eyed throughout the town (and trust me, we get about a hundred zooms on her eyes) or having dreams in her garishly blue lit tent. In the end, the stock characters we never get to know get offered up for the kill (and even a man getting torn in half is funny because it is so unconvincingly done, and his son returns to his mother covered in blood- what? did the kid wallow around in his dads entrails or something?). And the ending makes no sense whatsoever.
Yawn. Sadly it isnt even good in a bad way. Demonia is just dull.
The DVD: Media Blasters/Shriek Show
Picture: Widescreen, 1.66:1. Well, the film itself wasn't very high quality, so the transfer is okay considering the source. It is a little soft at times and some scenes suffer from fogging, but the actual cinematography is so dull in the first place, the transfer cannot be faulted very much.
Sound:Dolby Digital Mono, English dub. Fair, clear but unremarkable track. Gets the job done.
Extras: Chapter Selections--- Text Interview with actor Brett Halsey--- Fulci Bio--- Scream Access. Jump straight to the horrific scenes.--- Fulci Lives (4:30). Home video of Fulci talking a little about his work and behind the scenes filming during Demonia. The same footage was also used on Anchor Bays edition of The Beyond.
Conclusion: Well it is every bit as cheap as it is predictable. Only worthwhile for die-hard Fucli completists who've bought all the releases of good Fulci films. For the rest only recommended as a rental, and for Pete's sake, check out the mans earlier work first and don't let this sad addition to his oeuvre tarnish your view of Fulci.