Saturday, June 22

Demónios negros (Demoni 3/Black Demons) (1991) - Domo Video Portuguese VHS

Most of the grievances with Umberto Lenzi's Black Demons point to its plotting nature and quietly racist undertones. While both counts are true, it just has that late era Italian horror feeling that's hard to resist once the bug bites you. Especially after midnight with a few beers and pretzels handy. Actually; even without that acquired taste and circumstance, the film is miraculously palatable given the dire straits the pastaland industry was in by the early '90s. This one even manages to be shot in English with sound and not dubbed over in post production.

A group of twenty-something reporters and thickly-accented natives come under attack in a dilapidated Brazilian plantation by a few black zombies, driven by a macumba voodoo curse, that where slave labor when formerly above ground. This simplicity helps keep this Lenzi ship afloat while other Italian horrors from this period sunk under their own complexity (1987's Graveyard Disturbance typifies that). Things do get draggy but there's some spooky nighttime atmosphere, the lynched dead carrying hooks and axes look great, and the gore effects are well executed.

However; there's only six zombies, dubbed "The Curse of the Six Negro Slaves", and effects are limited to a few grisly eye gouges. The soft racism running throughout, like the uncomfortable use of the word "negro" repeatedly, might have been Lenzi trying to make a point about still tense race relations but it comes off as vague at best (like all of his supposed stabs at social commentary!). You probably won't be offended by any of this compared to how often it becomes very difficult to make out what the actors are saying due to either broken English or muffled recording quality. Some also begrudge its original Italian title being Demoni 3, purporting itself as a continuation of Lamberto Bava's previous two Demons flicks, but the Google exists now and get over it. Only thirteen-year-olds complain about that shit.

Black Demons also has the prior distinction of being rarely seen before Shriek Show's DVD debuted. The film had no North American VHS release and not many VHS releases worldwide period. The couple that do exist sport Italian language audio expect for the extremely rare Portuguese PAL VHS from Domo Video above with the same English audio as the DVD. It's been a release I've been wanting to find for years now. As an aside, Shriek Show's DVD has one of the distributor's best transfers in their history. Despite a low bitrate and interlaced image (an SS norm), the picture quality is fantastic. Some screenshots from the disc are included below.          


DrunkethWizerd said...

That last shot of the girl with the gouged eye and rope around her neck is some hot stuff!

Kev D. said...

Yeah the SHriek Show DVD looks great. Sadly, the film is still bad. Haha.

I say that with the utmost respect and love for the film, of course.

Nice review. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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