Friday, December 21, 2007


One of the last entries in the classic era of Italian zombie films, Umberto Lenzi's BLACK DEMONS (its title meant to suggest a continuation of Lamberto Bava's DEMONS series, though the movie bears as much resemblance to Bava's films as it does to GONE WITH THE WIND) suffered the same fate of just about every movie of its kind in the early '90s: that is to say, dull and interminable, with shoddy production values and disappointing gore, capped with the lack of a legitimate U.S. release (Shriek Show's DVD marks the film's official stateside, English-language debut; strange, considering the film's dialogue appears to have been originally recorded in English).

The lightweight story has to do with a trio of unlikeable American teenagers vacationing in Brazil, one of whom uses the recording of a macumba (a variation of voodoo) ritual to resurrect a group of slaves that'd been killed one hundred years ago. Not only are the zombies in remarkably good shape for being in the ground a whole century, they apparently didn't gain much of an appetite either, preferring to dispatch their victims slasher-style with a variety of farm implements (highlights include a couple of gouged eyeballs and an ax-split skull, though the gore scenes are few and far between). The majority of the film consists of dry, drawn-out conversations that serve no purpose other than getting this film to an acceptable length--and, presumably, to bridge the kill scenes.

BLACK DEMONS may be required viewing for Italian zombie completists, but there are other, better films out there (like Fulci's ZOMBIE, which this movie repeatedly brings to mind) that do a much more effective job of providing the thrills zombie fans require.

(Special thanks to Donna Williams for providing a copy of this film.)

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