Lamberto Bava’s 1985 cult horror favourite Demons about a cinema overran by….demons [what else!?] remains hugely entertaining trash, the kind of film which you probably wouldn’t consider very good but which you can’t help but thoroughly enjoy every time you watch it. No, hardly any of it makes sense [the demon popping out of somebody’s back! The helicopter falling through the ceiling!] and it’s immensely silly, but when Urbano Barberini rides up and down the aisles in his bike slashing down loads of demons to Accept’s Fast As a Shark than all is forgiven. The pace is relentless, the gore effects [originally heavily cut in the UK] are still pretty effective and it has a killer soundtrack which in a way encompasses the best of both worlds. There’s plenty of heavy rock from the likes of Motley Crue, Billy Idol and Saxon, which far from being a distraction or seeming out of place, feels totally at home amongst the film’s bonkers, over the top feel and even adds to it. Then you have Claudio Simonetti’s score, which is what is showcased on this new CD release.
I’m personally not entirely sure if you can have a totally ‘definitive’ release of the Demons soundtrack without including the songs, as they are an integral part of the Demons experience, but such a thing is probably hugely costly or a legal minefield. To my knowledge, the original LP programme, which contained most of the songs and three tracks from Simonetti’s score, has never been released on CD except for a very limited Japanese release which had a couple of differences to the original album. Simonetti, already known to Italian horror fans as the keyboardist of the group Goblin and therefore a major contributor to the iconic soundtracks of some of Dario Argento’s films especially Suspiria, plus Dawn Of The Dead and many others, had already made a name for himself as a solo composer of film music by the time the Demons assignment came along. His electronic score proved to be the perfect counterpoint to the rock songs, often oozing with menace and certainly adding to the fear factor, but also often catchy and telling you that, however bloody the film may get, it’s just meant to be fun and not to be taken seriously. And, as usual with Simonetti, it makes for a great listen outside the film.
The CD opens with, of course, the main title theme Demon which is heard a few times throughout the score. Very much a throwback to some of the classic Goblin work with its menacing synth line, its neo-baroque element [plus a slight quote from Grieg’s In The Hall Of The Mountain King] and barely intelligible human words [chiefly ‘killer’], but given an 80’s gloss [Simonetti was always good at adapting his music to current trends and different styles], especially with its insanely catchy and slightly tribal drum loops, it gets both the film and the CD off to a great start. The extremely brief Cruel Demons, which I don’t remember appearing in the film, is a much faster and more intense track coming across as some insane industrial techno with intense synth flourishes. Killing, heard several times during the film beginning with Rosemary’s assault on Ruth after she is discovered in the restroom with a bad case of demon acne, is very much in the style of Demon but adds screaming guitar licks and Gregorian chants.
Threat is another track I don’t recall from the movie. Its moody synth atmospherics are followed by The Evil One, heard in the film when as the surviving patrons realise that…“it’s not the movie…it’s the theatre.” This is perhaps the most menacing track on the CD, intensely gloomy synth atmosphere building with just a slight beat behind it. Out Of Time, heard near the beginning in the foyer of the cinema playing more as source music, is a much more upbeat track, though just about in keeping with the overall style of the score. It has a slower beat than most of the other tracks with beats and expands on the neo-baroque aspect of Demon while adding a few Rick Wakeman-esque show-offy keyboard flourishes and even a whiff of the ‘new romantic’ pop style popular at the time. After a very cool reprise of Demon with a stronger disco element, we get into the bonus tracks which except for an early demo version of Killing are all different versions of Demons. Demon’s Lounge sounds closer to trance music while also adding ethereal female wailings, while the live version from 2002 performed by Simonetti’s band entitled Demon [Daemonia Live Version], sounds wonderfully raw and heavy.
The constant versions of the same piece stand a good chance of getting on your nerves if listened to in one go, even though they’re nice to have, so my advice after listening to the score tracks would be to save the six bonus tracks for later and move onto the bonus CD which comes with all three out of the four [count ’em!] versions of the soundtrack which Rustblade Records are releasing. It plays like some really bizarre alternate version of the score, even playing in the same order until you get to the last two bonus tracks. Each piece gets a heavy makeover by modern artists and it’s not just changing a couple of things here and there, it’s really altering the music in a way I found really rewarding even though I have to say I hadn’t heard of any the artists. I’m not going to describe every track as I feel the listener should go into this CD not knowing much and therefore be even more surprised, but the highlights for me are Threat by The Devil And The Universe which greatly expands the original very short track and turns it into an incredibly odd and atmospheric electronic epic with eerie echoing sampled voices, and Needle Sharing’s Out Of Time which turns the previously quite ‘light’ piece into a full-on jungle epic replete with sampled lines from the film, a piece which should make any Demons fan grin inanely. The whole CD is very worthwhile and I thoroughly recommend you choose one of the versions of the soundtrack that includes it.
SINGLE CD TRACKLISTING
2. Cruel Demon
5. The Evil One
6. Out of Time
7. Demon [Reprise]
9. Demon’s Lounge [Previously Unreleased Song]
10. Demon – Demo Version – 1985
11. Killing – Demo Version -1985
12. Demon – Demo played on Piano – 1985
13. Demon – Simonetti Horror Project version – 1990
14. Demon – Daemonia Live Version
Demon Original Videoclip
Demon TV Spot
BONUS CD “The Soundtrack Remixed”
1. Demon [Remixed By OHGR]
2. Cruel Demon [Remixed By Cervello Elettronico]
3. Killing [Remixed By Simulakrum Lab]
4. Threat [Remixed by The Devil And The Universe]
5. The Evil One [Remixed By :Bahntier//]
6. Out of Time [Remixed By Needle Sharing]
7. Demon [Reprise] (Remixed By Leæther Strip)
8. Killing [Remixed By Chris Alexander]
9. Demon [Remixed By Creature from the Black]
Rustblade Records have released the Demons soundtrack in four different versions. A quick glance at their website reveals that the ‘Deluxe Ultra Limited Bag’ Edition, limited to 100 copies, has sold out, but you can still get your mitts on:
‘Limited Tin Box’ [499 Copies], Contains The Soundtrack Plus Previously Unreleased Songs and 2 Video Clips! + Bonus Cd “Soundtrack Remixed” remixes by Ohgr, Bahntier, Leather Strip, Chris Alexander…and many others + Trasparent Postcard + Metropol Ticket + Litte Bag + Siver Pin
Limited Colored Blue Vinyl 666 copies + Poster
Single CD version
Released 29th May, you can buy at Rustblade.com