** Out of 5
Release Date- 1991
Running Time- 88-Minutes
Screenplay- Olga Pehar
Director- Umberto Lenzi
Starring- Keith Van Hoven, Joe Balogh, Sonia Curtis, Phillip Murray, Juliana Teixeira, Maria Alves
While I’m far from an expert on Umberto Lenzi, Black Demons is the 4th film by him I have seen. I wouldn’t say he is a great filmmaker, but he does know how to make an enjoyable movie that has enough gore and or sleaze to make up for any shortcomings he has as a filmmaker. Black Demons though in my opinion was pretty much a waste. While it did have the so bad its good moments, as a whole it was just bad really bad. I knew what kind of movie I was getting, but based on what I have seen from Umberto Lenzi I was expecting a mindless gore-fest, but sadly that’s not what I got well besides the mindless part.
The screenplay written by Olga Pehar was simply horrible; the horror genre may not always be known for the scripts, but this was just bad. The dialogue is cringe worthy. The characters were terrible; while the concept was fairly decent I suppose nothing in the screenplay works at all. The dialogue is just idiotic everything is well idiotic. Black Demons is one of the worst written horror flicks I’ve come across and I’ve seen my fair share of badly written horror movies.
Umberto Lenzi is unable to build up much tension or atmosphere. The scenes are poorly paced and lack any tension throughout. Black Demons runs at about 90-min, but quite honestly it feel a hell of a lot longer than that. Umberto Lenzi can craft a sleazy fun time, but here he just falls flat. The biggest problem is the lack of action. The longer the movie goes without any the more boring it gets. In general what I’ve seen from Lenzi I wouldn’t say they were exactly suspense filled movies, but here nothing works at all and after watching Black Demons it’s no surprise Lenzi’s career would go down the drain along with Italian horror. By this time Lenzi was nothing more than a hack and I suppose one can say he always was, but at least he was an entertaining hack as Cannibal Ferox is a fun movie that knocks off Cannibal Holocaust and while Holocaust is the better movie I actually prefer Ferox, but I also saw that first, but nothing here in Black Demons works at all and again Lenzi may not be a great filmmaker, but could craft a fun movie, but not here.
The acting was weak, which is to be expected but I have seen worse, but Philip Murray has to rate as one of the very worst actors I have ever seen. From the way he delivers his lines, to his movements and facial expressions he was just bad. But with that said he does help the movie in ways and helps it have the so bad its good moments. Without Phillip Murray’s terrible acting Black Demons would have been a complete waste of time. Phillip Murray was amazingly bad no doubt he’s one of the very worst actors of all time and due to that he can make the movie a little fun. The scariest thing about Black Demons is the rest of the actors come across as fairly decent when compared to Phillip Murray. I wasn’t expecting Oscar worthy acting, but this one was pretty damn bad as far as acting goes.
Black Demons released in 1991 in many ways is the last of the 80s horror film. The movie really does look like something out of the 80s, but also what people have to remember is even though the decade ends it normally takes a year or 2 before films begin to change. So this was released sometime in 1991 so the 80s style was still there in most horror flicks at this time. But if I didn’t know any better I would think this was made in the 80s and just left on the shelf.
Despite the title Black Demons this is a zombie flick and like Lenzi’s Nightmare City he likes to mix things up. In many ways this is sort of a slasher flick meets a zombie flick. There is a scene with one zombie stalking one of the characters and when there is a knock at the door the zombie backs off. Also the zombies prefer to use weapons as well. That’s about the only positive thing I can say about Black Demons is that is tries to be different than what dominated at this time, which was either a knock off of George Romero or Lucio Fulci or sometimes both.
Black Demons also goes under the title of Demons 3, which makes people think this was a sequel to Lamberto Bava’s Demons flicks. But the title Demons 3 was thrown on for marketing and is in no way connected that series.
Bottom line is Black Demons is a very poor movie; it’s too slow paced at times and when there is action it really doesn’t help much. The couple of gore scenes are fairly decent, but cannot save the movie. As much as I love Italian horror by this time it was clear the horror industry in Italy was pretty much dead except for a couple of filmmakers who were able to make some good movies. I really can’t think of many positive things to say about Black Demons and while you can do far worse in my opinion this one is a skipper. Perhaps one day I will revisit this, but not anytime soon.