Top critical review
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UPDATED: Great films, but purchasers should be warned!
on 18 April 2012
DEMONS and DEMONS 2 are great, gory, cheesy 80's Italian horror films. If you like that kind of thing, then you'll love these as well. If you want reviews of the films, check out the Internet Movie Database or a ton of other sites, and you will find more info.
My review, is specifically about this Steelbook version of the films. Sadly, this release has a couple of issues fans should be made aware of:
1) Partway through DEMONS, there is a break in the film, and an on-screen title comes up that says "End Of First Half", before continuing on with the rest of the film. This moment occurs, as the cinemagoers destroy the projection booth, and stop the film they've been watching from being projected. This issue does NOT exist in other versions of DEMONS I've seen, so I am a little shocked about this moment appearing in this release. It really breaks the tension of the moment, and it's a shame that Arrow have decided to include this in their version of the film. There's no real point or purpose, and it takes viewers out of the enjoyment of the movie.
2) More importantly, the Steelbook will NOT include the two-part DEMONS 3 comics, that come with the regular DVD or Blu-Ray releases of the films.
Arrow has decided, that the comics won't fit inside the Steelbook case, and as such, purchasers of the Steelbook will miss out on these. Purchase the standard DVD or Blu-Ray releases, and you will get them!
There's a lengthy discussion over on their official forum, but if I'm honest, this is a bit sneaky of them, possibly to get hardcore fans to buy both the Steelbook and the seperate DVD/Blu-Ray releases. (I'd like to think it isn't, but it's not a good P.R. move for them to make the Steelbook set less collectible, by excluding material included in the individual releases.)
There are lots of ways in which the comics could be included, or made available to those who purchase the Steelbook, but Arrow have decided that it isn't happening - despite some serious protests on their site from forum members and collector's of the film.
Thus, if you want the DEMONS 3 comic-books (Part 1 comes with DEMONS, Part 2 comes with DEMONS 2), then you'll need to buy the films individually on DVD and/or Blu-Ray. The downside, is that I have the Steelbook on Amazon Pre-Order for £16-99, (it's now increased to the ridiculusly high figure of £25!). and buying DEMONS on its own on Blu-Ray is £16, with DEMONS 2 coming in at £11-99. As such, you're technically paying £10-99 for the two-part comic book!
As much as I want to support small, niche distributors of low-budget world cinema, Arrow's decisions has angered me a great deal. Offering to produce a collectible Steelbook version of the set is great. Limiting it to 5000 copies, which is my understanding of it, is great also. Taking out some of the extras that are included with the regular DVD and Blu-Ray versions, however, is not!
Irrespective of any alleged lack of space, the comics could easily have been included shrink-wrapped to the case. A redemption code could have been included, to allow the comics to be downloaded as PDF files, or to be sent back to Arrow, along with a couple of quid for postage and packing, so that collector's can be sent the comics under seperate cover, if they so wish to have them - even if such comics don't fit inside the case.
This would not have been a Herculean task for Arrow to do, and it would have given the fans who are buying the Steelbook set, an extra reason to support this release, over the regular editions.
I'm sure plenty of people will say I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, and maybe I am. However, if you release a set that is designed to be collectible, and has been designed with hardcore fans in mind, then the least you can do is make sure that those fans get the extras that everyone else gets, rather than excluding them for some arbitrary reason.
For now, though, all DEMONS fans will have to decide whether they want the extra comic-books or not... And if you are a hardcore fan, you almost certainly will. So you are going to face a tough choice: collectible, limited edition Steelbook case, with both films in one case, and no comics, or the standard releases, with the comics, but standard Blu-Ray packaging.
Lastly, the extras on the Steelbook set and the individual DVD/Blu-Ray releases are NOT affected. Whatever choice you do make, you will still get all of the other extras about the film's creation.
ADDENDUM: In November 2013, Syanpse released a Region A/Region 1-locked Dual-Format (DVD and Blu-Ray Combo release) of DEMONS and DEMONS 2, as individual Steelbooks. They cost about £33 each, to import from the USA to the UK, but having now got them, and having viewed them, they now beat Arrow's pathetic Steelbook version into the dirt! Simply put, Arrow's release is now a 1-Star release, by comparison!
The Synapse releases are what Arrow's release should have been, if Arrow could just have bothered to put some effort into things. Synapse's release of DEMONS not only looks more colourful, more detailed, and appears (to the human eye at least) to be much sharper and clearer, as well as the fact it has over 90-minutes of additional material included on it (compared to Arrow's 20-minutes or so), blows Arrow's version into oblivion. The infamous "End Of First Half" title card has been removed, at director Lamberto Bava's request, as he stated that it was an unnecessary inclusion to the film by modern-standards. If you can, and if you are a fan of the film, and if you have the AV set-up to do so, then import the Synapse release, and watch at how DEMONS should have looked! You will not regret it!
Likewise, DEMONS 2 is much better. It still has the two two problematic parts, due to the iffy film-stock the movie was shot on, but they've repaired the worst parts, so that the problems are less noticeable. Again, the picture is sharper and overall is more detailed. Once again, Syanpse's release includes over an hour of new extras, alongside those that Arrow included, so you get even more value for money.
On top of all of this, both of Synapse's Steelbooks look amazing, when you see them in the flesh! They are so beautifully designed, with artwork that looks much more relevant to the films they are supposed to be of.
If you love either of these films, then ditch the now distinctly second-rate Arrow release, and get the Synapse sets. They have proven that with hard-work and time, you can make classic horrors look excellent on Blu-Ray, if you can be bothered to do so!