Demons

Dir: Lamberto Bava, 1985. Starring: Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Paola Cozzo, Urbano Barberini. Horror.

What makes a film quintessential? I’ve tried to organize the factors and often come up short. However, I do know that the films of John Hughes are considered quintessential '80s classics and the majority of films starring Sylvester Stallone are considered the same for the action genre. So what about horror? More specifically, that nugget-filled core called '80s Horror? Well, I’ve seen and mentally processed a vast range of horror -- from J-Horror to Giallo -- and can honestly say that I’ve yet to see a more perfect example of the genre from that period than Demons.

Director Lamberto Bava is the son of Mario Bava, world-famous for his films and cinematography -- most of which are Giallo horror. (In fact, the Bavas are a big family of cinematic greats.) Demons was also produced by the legendary Dario Argento. It’s no surprise, then, that the beginning of the film starts out very much like a Giallo; a fresh-faced young lady, Cheryl (Natasha Hovey), is on the subway and finds herself isolated, with the ominous sensation of being followed. There’s a pursuit (with that splendid synthy Itallo-rock in the background) which ends up providing her with a literal ticket to a righteous nightmare at a local theater.

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Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Sep 21, 2017 1:15pm

Inserts

Dir: John Byrum, 1975. Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Jessica Harper, Bob Hoskins, Stephen Davies, Veronica Cartwright.

Set in Depression-era Hollywood, Inserts follows the lives of a has-been film director and his entourage of “degenerates” that helps him lead a career directing pornography. The movie might bring to mind a stage play as it is set in a single day, in one room, and follows the actions of the cast in real time. What made the story interesting was realizing that the glamorous and privileged approach to blockbuster films in the late '20s was also used with smut. The performances and heavy dialogue also allow you to mentally compare the fickle and sleazy attitudes in the filmmaking industry of yesteryear with those of today.

Richard Dreyfuss plays The Boy Wonder, a young director known for his achievements in silent film who discovered that he couldn't direct talkies. He's hit rock bottom, just like the rest of America during the Depression, and refuses to leave his Hollywood Hills home. He's dealing with a looming anxiety about not only being a failure but what will happen to his home when the city wants to build a freeway through the land. When a fellow called Big Mac (Bob Hoskins) offered him a contract to direct porn, he took it, not knowing that having such a brutish producer might be the end of him for good. Harlene (Veronica Cartwright) is his star in the picture, and a real handful. Sparing no time, she dives into a frenzy of antics and gossip before settling into her heroin fix. Her co-star is the young and naive Rex the Wonder Dog (Stephen Davies), who laps up praise from others so quickly that you'd think he was a bit dense. The three try to pick up from where they last left off filming and are disturbed by a knock on the door. Harlene's daily gossip comprised of telling the director that the then unknown Clark Gable thought he was a genius and wanted him to direct again. She gave him his address, and now he's come to talk. The Boy Wonder wants nothing to do with that world and sends Rex to shoo him away. They pick up again and grow close to finishing when Mac makes an entrance with his fiance Cathy Cake (Jessica Harper), who is mesmerized by their activities. Mac's presence causes tension because he's paying for the picture and providing Harlene's drugs. Once the actors are paid and high, The Boy Wonder finds it nearly impossible to continue working. As Mac bullies everyone and makes them uncomfortable, Harlene exits the room to shoot up and the others talk of developments in both the film world and America's future.

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Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Apr 7, 2011 4:02pm
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