Let's face it. When a guy starts zipping around a cinema on a motorbike, waving a sword, while savage demons fly through the air at him, with 80's cock rock blasting through the speakers, you know that you're not watching the most serious of horror films. No, this is merely an excuse to see plenty of throat rippings, boil burstings, scalp tearings and eye pokings. Having said that, Demons does build up some great tension as the film within a film unfolds, forewarning of the events about to take place in the Metropol theatre.
This is a film that benefits greatly from the superior picture quality of DVD. Most of it takes place in the dark and the bloody effects are so much clearer here than the old worn VHS copy you've been hanging onto for all these years. This is a really good looking DVD. No noticeable film, film-to-video, or compression artifacting that I could see. The image is a little softer than that of the latest blockbuster release, but that's expected of a film of Demons' vintage, and besides, I find that movies with softer images tend to suffer less from NTSC nasties. Short of this being an anamorphic transfer, Anchor Bay probably couldn't have done any better.
Sound is less impressive. Like many other dubbed Italian movies of the mid-eighties, dialog tends to sound a little 'over-processed'. The soundtrack (firmly in the 'mid-80s-retro' category) can be played fairly loud as long as you don't mind a little hiss during the quieter moments. The 5.1 surround doesn't excite with very minimal use of the rear speakers. Again, it's probably as good as it's gonna get without a major remastering.
Demons features an audio commentary with director Bava and Special FX Artist Sergio Stivaletti, conducted by journalist Loris Curci. Bava & Stivaletti's english isn't the greatest, and at times Curci has to interpret for them. This tends to make the commentary seem a little laboured, and I think it would have been better and easier for all involved had they done the whole thing in italian and supplied an english subtitle track for it. A pretty dull trailer is included as is one of the shortest (about 1:16) behind-the-scenes featurettes that I've ever seen.
Overall, Demons is excellent in picture, but disappointing in sound. The extras may not be the greatest, but the movie's just good enough to warrant adding it to your collection.