The harsh reception of one of Fulci’s last films is unjust; there’s an enjoyable evil throughout, even if it lacks his common brilliance.
The malevolent ghosts of nuns murdered five hundred years ago are released by an archaeological team. Let’s dig into 1990’s DEMONIA, directed by Lucio Fulci!
As I See It
It’s not Fulci’s best, that would be New York Ripper or The Beyond, but I really can’t jump on the bandwagon of hate against it, even if Fulci himself tried to disown it like a treasonous child.
There are scenes that are shot like a soap opera, utilizing close-up zoom shots and changing angles to display power dynamics (looking up at Paul, looking down at Liza). Even the crypt scenes lack the normal Fulci stroke.
The underground monastery is dressed well, but the lighting destroys any chance of terror.
There are some practical effects that will please the gorehounds, including a rather bloody slaughterhouse freezer scene and a somewhat sill bifurcation that is unfortunately poorly executed on the live actor. Still, they make up for it when the shot cuts, and they switch to a prop.
Unfortunately, the finale plays into everyone’s distaste for the film.
It’s cheesy and has very little impact, in spite of attempts at graphic, irreverent imagery.
Meg Register (Liza) got her first role as Julie in the underrated eighties buddy cop film Running Scared, which starred Billy Crystal and the late Gregory Hines. She called it a day in 1996 and has not appeared in anything since.
Christina Engelhardt (Susie) appeared in an earlier featured Dig, Skinner, which starred Ted Raimi.
Fulci makes his typical on-camera appearance as a detective.
Of Gratuitous Nature
When Liza meets with the medium, she recounts the history of the evil nuns and how they would kill their victims at the edge of climax, carry their bastard child to full term and then burn the baby alive. It is very clearly a doll (I’m not complaining that it doesn’t look realistic), but the cries used for sound design are terribly real and unsettling.
Meg Register has a bit of a poor man’s Patricia Arquette thing going on here, and I’m not mad at it.
Ripe for a Remake
Fulci reportedly tried to remove his credit from the film, unhappy with how it turned out. It’s not the worst thing ever created, but it does lack the Fucli feel, perhaps most especially because the frequent musical collaborator Fabio Frizzi’s complementary score was not present.
No progeny to report.
Where to Watch
Severin Films released a Blu-Ray for North America with a decent amount of interviews, including one with Fucli on set. For those overseas, Arrow Video has a limited edition box set. You can stream it on AMC+, Tubi, Shudder, Night Flight, or the Screambox Amazon Channel.