The Import Corner: Demons 1 and 2: Limited Edition (Arrow Video) 4K Blu-ray Review

Demons and Demons 2 are two of the very best Italian horror has to offer and Arrow Video has brought the two films together in one package, remastered in 4K, and with a wealth of extras. This is the Demons release fans have been waiting for.

Studio: Arrow Video
Release Date: October 4th, 1985 (theatrical) (Demons)
                        October 9th, 1986 (theatrical) (Demons 2)
                        February 22nd, 2021 (4K Blu-ray)
Run Time: International English version 1hour 28 minutes 22 seconds) (Demons)
                    Italian version 1 hour 28 minutes 22 seconds (Demons)
                    US English version 1 hour 28 minutes 29 seconds (Demons)
                    English version (1 hour 31 minutes 2 seconds) (Demons 2)
                    Italian version (1 hour 30 minutes 59 seconds) (Demons 2)
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 2160p (1.66:1 aspect ratio) (both films)
Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (US English version) (Demons)
             English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (International English version) (both films)
             English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (International English version) (both films)
             Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Italian version) (both films)
             Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (Italian version) (both films)
Subtitles: English and English SDH (all versions) (both films)
Slipcover: No, but yes. See "Extras & Packaging" below for more details)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Fiore Argento, Paola Cozzo, Fabiola Toledo, Nicoletta Elmi, and Bobby Rhodes (Demons)
    David Edwin Knight, Nancy Brilli, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Bobby Rhodes, Asia Argento (Demons 2)
Written by Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Dardano Sacchetti, and Franco Ferrini (both films)
Directed by Lamberto Bava (both films)
Rating: BBFC: 18 (strong gory violence and drug misuse) (Demons)
                BBFC: 15 (strong violence, horror) (Demons 2)
                BBFC: 18 (the whole package)




What's It About?

Art imitating art is the basis of this demonic tale of a group of invited guests who are granted a free lunch in the form of a screening of a horror film that brings naturalism to life. Baited and penned in, this walled-in feeling quickly turns to screams and fear as those who are dead lust after the flesh of those living. The free lunch has turned full circle in the cinema of hell and it is only a question of time before the demons from the abyss are asking for second portions. (Demons)

A documentary is shown on TV of a group of teens who investigate the legendary forbidden zone, in which a Demon infestation once took place (see Demoni I). When finding a lifeless corpse of a demon, one of the teens causes the resurrection of it, and the demon makes its way into the nearby world by TV-broadcast... An unlucky girl, having her birthday-party at that time, gets possessed by the demon while watching the documentary, and soon the entire building in which she lives turns into a living nightmare.... (Demons 2)


Film Review

DEMONS is a motherfucking classic. There is no other way to say it. Anyone who has a passing knowledge of horror knows about DEMONS, the first one at least. I remember seeing DEMONS for the first time and being shellshocked afterward. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I liked it. The film is told at a fever pitch. Once the first bloodshed comes at about the 20-minute mark, the film doesn't let up until the credits start to roll. The film is told in the same way a disaster film is told. We get all of our characters together, get to know a few things about them, and then watch as they try to survive the onslaught of demons coming their way. Both films are in fact told this way with DEMONS 2 being a remake of the first film only set in an apartment complex instead of a movie theater. Some of the same actors grace both films playing much the same roles in both films. The fact that DEMONS 2 isn't as good as a film as the first film is something that most sequels have to contend with, but DEMONS 2 came a year after the first film so you would think that the second one could be better, but it isn't. It's a good film and has some very memorable sequences to it, but it just isn't nearly as good as DEMONS. If you need to see the second film, you will find it enjoyable, but you will long for the comfort and craziness of the first film.  Both films are gory as hell and feature some truly great rock and punk tracks that really add to the film. 



Both films sport brand new 4K restorations from the original camera negatives and the results are jaw-dropping. Detail is really high with just about everything in the film getting a nice bump in quality. There is a nice level of film grain that adds to the film-like feel. The HDR adds so much in terms of the colors used in the film which just pop. The iconic shot of the demons against the blue light that is used for all the posters for the first film looks so good in 4K and HDR. Hell, the green blood from the demons looks amazing. Each film comes with a bunch of different soundtracks and I have to say that they all sound great. The dialogue is crisp and clear and never gets lost in the rock music. Purists will go for the Italian audio, but I have always known these films with their English audio so that is what I watch them with. 


Extras & Packaging

Three commentaries lead the way for this special features package. 

Produced by Dario Argento is a visual essay from Michael Mackenzie that looks at the films that Argento produced over the years. Starting with DOOR INTO DARKNESS, which was an Alfred Hitchcock Presents-like tv series, Mackenzie takes us through all the films that Argento has produced and how they fit in with the films that he did direct, and how Argento was a draw of his own, unlike his contemporaries. Argento's first film in which he was only a producer was DAWN OF THE DEAD in 1978. Starting with PHENOMENA in 1985, Argento started to produce his own films without the help of his father. While Argento was hands-off with DAWN OF THE DEAD, he was very hands-on with DEMONS 1 and 2 and you can tell. His produced films are very impressive as they are both different from the films he would direct himself, but also similar to his overall oeuvre. 

Next, we have three archival interviews with Dario Argento, Claudio Simonetti, and Luigi Cozzi that have appeared on the previous Blu-ray release of DEMONS from Arrow Video. All three interviews are fairly quick, under ten minutes, and offer some pretty cool stories about the making of DEMONS. Finishing up the disc are trailers for the film.     

DEMONS 2 starts off with a pair of commentary tracks: one with Travis Crawford and the other with Lamberto Bava, Sergio Stivaletti, and Roy Bava.

Next up, we have a visual essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. She focuses on the space in the film, being it private or public, wide-open or closed off, and how it plays on our expectations or surprises is in both films. She then talks about how the world of the film and the world of the film within the film merge. She talks about the shock of the child demon in DEMONS 2 as well as the transformations in both films and how they are very similar but different. Look, I am going to be honest: I had a hard time watching this. I am sure that there is some great information here and Ms. Heller-Nicholas seems like a very nice person, but I am just don't care about the tiny things that can be dissected when it comes to these two films. To me, these are well-crafted horror films with some subtle and not-so-subtle commentary. Some of the things that she talks about don't make much sense to me, but I am not the audience for a breakdown like this. I appreciate visual essays like this, but I got very lost with this one. 

We finish out the disc with two archival interviews and a pair of trailers for the film.
  •     Audio Commentary by Kat Ellinger and Heather Drain
  •     Audio Commentary by Lamberto Bava and Sergio Stivaletti
  •     Audio Commentary by Bava, Stivaletti, Claudio Simonetti, and Geretta Geretta
  •     Produced by Dario Argento (27m 13s, HD, 1.78:1) A new visual essay by author and critic            Michael Mackenzie exploring the legendary filmmaker's career as a producer
Archival Special Features:

  •     Dario's Demon Days (10m 30s, SD, 1.78:1) Archival interview with writer/producer Dario              Argento.
  •     In Italian with English subtitles.
  •     Defining an Epic in Music (9m 34s, SD, 1.78:1) Archival interview with composer Claudio            Simonetti
  •     Splatter Spaghetti Style (11m 27s, Sd, 1.78:1) Archival interview with long-time Argento 
  •     collaborator Luigi Cozzi. In Italian with English subtitles.

Promotional Materials:
  •     Italian theatrical trailer (2m 9s, HD, 1.66:1)
  •     International English theatrical trailer (2m 9s, HD, 1.66:1)
  •     US theatrical trailer (1m 32s, HD, 1.66:1)
  •     Japanese souvenir programme (15 images)

Demons 2:
  •     Audio Commentary by Travis Crawford
  •     Audio Commentary by Lamberto Bava, Sergio Stivaletti, and Roy Bava
  •    Together Apart (26m 36s, HD, 1.66:1) New visual essay on space and technology in Demons and Demons 2 by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Archival Special Features:
  •     Creating Creature Carnage (20m 29s, SD, 1.78:1) Archival interview with special makeup effects artist Sergio Stivaletti. In Italian with English subtitles.
  •     Bava to Bava (16m 43s, SD, 1.78:1) Archival interview with long-time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi on the history of Italian horror. In Italian with English subtitles.

Promotional Materials:
  •     Italian theatrical trailer (2m 56s, HD, 1.66:1) In Italian with English subtitles
  •     International English theatrical trailer (2m 55s, HD, 1.66:1)

While I am over the moon happy to have both DEMONS films on 4K blu-ray, I have to talk about the packaging that Arrow Video decided to use for this release. I have always been a big fan of the way that Arrow packages their Limited Editions. They always base their packaging decisions on the films rather than do uniform packaging for every single release. Sure, most of their Limited Editions come in the standard chipboard hard boxes like they did for ROBOCOP or AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, but for releases like the HELLRAISER: THE SCARLET BOX or GAMERA: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION, Arrow went with something different, to make those releases stand out from the others a lot more. For this DEMONS 1 AND 2 release, they went with a split box type like Vinegar Syndrome used for their SLAUGHTERHOUSE release. Whereas that release was constructed to stay together, this set doesn't seem to have that part of the puzzle down right. One side of the split is snug and secure while the other side just slides around with almost nothing stopping it from falling off. This means that if you put the release on your shelf and then forget that the one side is loose when you take it off your shelf, the loose side will fall off and the rest of the items in the package will tumble to the ground as well. Taking this into consideration, this packaging is not ideal, although I know what Arrow was going for with the split packaging. The newly commissioned artwork is very striking and I like it. Inside, you will find a digipack that houses the two discs and features the films' posters underneath its respective disc. A double-sided poster is next featuring the newly commissioned artwork on both sides for each film. It is a shame that they didn't include two posters, one for each film, because I would have rather had posters of the films' original theatrical posters, but whatever. A 60-page hardcover book featuring new essays about both films and a replica of the movie ticket used in the first film round out the package.



DEMONS is a classic of horror that needs to be seen by more people. The film has a great premise, memorable characters, and some really impressive gore. The sequel is more of the same just a little bit less so. The characters aren't as memorable, but there are some scenes here that will make you rewind and watch again. This 4K blu-ray from Arrow Video is pretty damn impressive. The video quality is some of the best that I have seen when it comes to older films and the special features package is worth the time. 



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