Release Date(s)1985/1986 (October 19, 2021)
Studio(s)DAC Film/Titanus (Synapse Films)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: A-
- Overall Grade: A
During the main producorial phase of his career, Dario Argento was branding several films with his name. In some cases, many folks didn’t realize that he didn’t actually direct the films that were being marketed. Such was the case with 1985’s Demons, and a year later, Demons 2. Like many Italian genre properties, the Demons series went far beyond the original two films with sequels, unofficial or otherwise, popping up all over the globe. From Michele Soavi’s The Church and The Sect to Lamberto Bava’s The Ogre, the Demons moniker plagued these films in certain territories, whether they had anything to do with demons or not. Regardless, Demons and Demons 2 were hits upon theatrical release, particularly the first film, which is why producers wanted to cash in. Many of Italy’s top genre filmmakers, including Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava, were involved with the two productions, which feature over-the-top violence and gore, beautifully-designed sets and lighting, hard-driving rock and roll and synth-laden soundtracks, and surprisingly highbrow thematic material. And thanks to their frequent availability on home video over the years, Demons and Demons 2 continue to thrive as genre fan favorites.
In Demons, a mysterious man in a silver mask hands out tickets to the Metropol theatre where a new horror film is being shown. Different groups of people turn up to the event, and before watching the film, one of them accidentally cuts her face on a mask hanging in the lobby. During the film, she transforms into a bloodthirsty demon, attacking ferociously and turning audience members into demons as well. It’s now a battle for survival as more and more die and become demons while the film plays out similar events. In Demons 2, residents of a tall apartment building are tuned in for a horror movie on TV. During a birthday party, one of the tenants is assaulted when a demon comes through the TV, turning her into a demon. The evil then spreads from floor to floor when demon bile leaks into the ceiling, infecting people and animals quickly. Trapped inside the building, the remaining residents must also endure these creatures.
Demons and Demons 2 were shot by Gianlorenzo Battaglia on 35 mm film, using Arriflex cameras and spherical lenses, and finished on film at the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This new 4K Ultra HD release of both films from Synapse Films, which shares the presentations with Arrow Video’s Region B Blu-ray release, includes all three versions of Demons (the International English language version, the Italian language version, and the US English language version), and both versions of Demons 2 (the Italian and English language versions). The International and Italian versions of the films were scanned and restored in 4K by Arrow, with additional work to conform the US version of Demons by Michael Mackenzie, all under the supervision of James White. The images were also graded for High Dynamic Range (both Dolby Vision and HDR10 options are available). The various versions of Demons are basically the same visually, outside of a couple of minor differences. In the International version, the gang driving around the city is snorting cocaine out of a Coca-Cola can. Three shots where you can see that can clearly are trimmed out of the US version, for obvious reasons. The US version features the Ascot Entertainment Group logo at the beginning, and each version opens and closes with credits in the appropriate language.
These new Ultra HD presentations bring not only added dimension but a tighter grain structure, allowing for higher levels of detail even in the darkest of moments. Black levels are deep and contrast is perfect. Demons has always been a particularly colorful film, and its palette is boosted enormously here thanks to the wider gamut and HDR pass. The colors match Synapse’s previous Blu-rays, but now with added depth. Scenes are awash with a variety or primaries and neons, whether it’s the interiors of the Metropol theatre, or the city street exteriors. The imagery is also clean and free of any age-related damage or debris. Demons 2 was shot using high speed film stock, which yields a much higher grain field. As such, it’s more textured than its predecessor. The new Ultra HD presentation handles that grain remarkably well, never appearing overly noisy. The same depth found in the color and black levels remains the same. Both of these presentations are organic, beautiful, and—hands down—the best these films have ever looked on home video.
Both the International English and Italian versions of Demons feature audio in 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, whereas the US version features audio in English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD Master Audio. Both the English and Italian versions of Demons 2 feature audio in 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, though it’s worth nothing that the 2.0 track is a true stereo mix of the film’s theatrical soundtrack. Subtitles are included for both films in English SDH. The differences between the various soundtracks for Demons are far too numerous to list here. There are many and varied alternate overdubbed lines, music cue changes, and sound effects differences. As such, we’ll refer you to this guide to give you a better idea as to what they are. The dubbing is obviously loose against the picture, no matter which option you choose, but the 5.1 and 2.0 tracks offer plenty of fidelity, especially in regard to Claudio Simonetti and Simon Boswell’s fantastic scores, as well as the hard rock music performed by the likes of Rick Springfield, Billy Idol, and The Scorpions. Dialogue is front-and-center and discernible, and the various sound effects, particularly those pertaining to the demons themselves, have ample support. The restored stereo soundtrack for Demons 2 is extremely active, with excellent separation and frequent movement. The restored US mono track for Demons, which many will be familiar with prior to its DVD release, definitely completes this package. All of these tracks are clean and crisp as well, leaving no room for complaint whatsoever.
DEMONS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B+/A+/A+
DEMONS 2 (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/A+/A+
The following extras are included on each disc:
DISC ONE: DEMONS
- Audio Commentary by Kat Ellinger and Heather Drain
- Audio Commentary by Lamberto Bava, Sergio Stivaletti, Claudio Simonetti, Geretta Geretta, Mike Baronas, Art Ettinger, and Mark Murray
- Produced by Dario Argento (HD – 27:13)
- Dario’s Demon Days (HD and SD – 10:30)
- Defining an Era in Music (HD and SD – 9:34)
- Splatter Spaghetti Style (HD and SD – 11:27)
- Carnage at the Cinema: Lamberto Bava and His Splatter Masterpiece (HD and SD – 36:01)
- Dario and the Demons: Producing Monster Mayhem (HD and SD – 15:51)
- Monstrous Memories: Luigi Cozzi on Demons (HD and SD – 30:18)
- Profondo Jones: The Critical Perspective (HD and SD – 17:39)
- Splatter Stunt Rock (HD and SD – 9:12)
- Sergio Stivaletti Q&A (HD – 36:13)
- Italian Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:09)
- International English Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:09)
- US Theatrical Trailer (HD – 1:32)
The first audio commentary features writers and podcasters Kat Ellinger and Heather Drain, which is noted to have been recorded during the COVID 19 pandemic. The pair discuss facts about the film and their love for it. The second audio commentary, recorded in 2012, features director Lamberto Bava, special makeup effects artist Sergio Stivaletti, composer Claudio Simonetti, actress Geretta Geretta, moderated by Mike Baronas, Art Ettinger, and Mark Murray. The seven discuss the film, often in Italian, but the disc offers a subtitle track to cover those moments. Produced by Dario Argento is an excellent new video essay about the career of the acclaimed filmmaker by author and critic Michael Mackenzie. Archival extras include Dario’s Demon Days, an interview with Dario Argento; Defining an Era in Music, an interview with composer Claudio Simonetti; Splatter Spaghetti Style, an interview with filmmaker Luigi Cozzi; Carnage at the Cinema, an interview with director Lamberto Bava; Dario and the Demons, another interview with Dario Argento; Monstrous Memories, another interview with Luigi Cozzi; Profondo Jones, an interview with author Alan Jones; Splatter Stunt Rock, an interview with stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua; and a Sergio Stivaletti Q&A which took place at The Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester, England in 2019, moderated by Michelangelo Stivaletti and Calum Waddell. The rest of the extras consist of three trailers for the film.
DISC TWO: DEMONS 2
- Audio Commentary by Travis Crawford
- Together and Apart: Space and Technology in Demons and Demons 2 (HD – 26:36)
- Creating Creature Carnage (SD – 20:29)
- Bava to Bava (SD – 16:43)
- Demonic Influences: Federico Zampaglione Speaks (HD and SD – 10:22)
- The Demons Generation: Roy Bava Discusses a Legacy in Lacerations (HD and SD – 34:50)
- The New Blood of Italian Horror, Sergio Stivaletti and Michele Soavi: From Demons to Dellamore Dellamorte (HD and SD – 16:15)
- Screaming for a Sequel: The Delirious Legacy of Demons 2 (HD and SD – 15:59)
- A Soundtrack for Splatter: An Interview with Composer Simon Boswell (HD and SD – 27:08)
- Italian Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:56)
- International English Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:55)
In the audio commentary with Travis Crawford, he discusses the film in vast detail, covering many facets of the production, as well as the film’s various “sequels”. Archival extras include Creating Creature Carnage, an interview with Sergio Stivaletti; Bava to Bava, an interview with Luigi Cozzi; Demonic Influences, an interview with director Federico Zampaglione; The Demons Generation, an interview with assistant director Roy Bava; The New Blood of Italian Horror, another interview Sergio Stivaletti; Screaming for a Sequel, an interview with Lamberto Bava; and A Soundtrack for Splatter, an interview with composer Simon Boswell. The rest of the extras consist of two trailers.
Not carried over from the Arrow Video Region B Ultra HD releases of Demons and Demons 2 are the 1998 audio commentaries on each film by Lamberto Bava, Sergio Stivaletti, and Roy Bava, moderated by Loris Curci, as well as a Japanese souvenir program for the first film. It’s also worth noting that the Anchor Bay DVD release included a brief behind-the-scenes featurette, which hasn’t carried over to any release since.
The Ultra HD discs for Demons and Demons 2 sit within a clear amaray case featuring new artwork by Juan Jose Saldarriaga and Chris MacGibbon on the front, and the original theatrical artwork for both films on the front and back of the reverse. Also included is a reproduction of the Metropol movie ticket with information about the presentation of Demons on the back, a birthday invitation with information about the presentation of Demons 2 on the back, a Synapse Films 2020 product catalog, and a fold-out poster featuring alternate artwork for Demons by Wes Benscoter (previously used for Synapse’s Blu-ray steelbook of Demons). Everything is housed within a slipcover featuring the same new artwork by Saldarriaga and MacGibbon. This set is also limited to 6,000 copies.
Synapse Films’ 4K edition of Demons I & II (as well as the Arrow Video Region B release featuring the same presentations and mostly the same extras) is definitely the version of these films to own. The A/V quality is outstanding, easily besting every previous home video incarnation. If you’re an Italian horror fan, you simply must own this package. Highly recommended!
- Tim Salmons