Horror Movie Dictionary: Demons

“The sleep of reason gives birth to monsters!”

That line is from Lamberto Bava’s Demons (the movie-within-a movie part), where teens are puttering around a cemetery and come across an ancient tome (spoiler alert: never, ever open ancient books and read out weird incantations. It didn’t work for the folks in Evil Dead either).

The “sleep of reason” bit is something we lifted for fair use in our Really Awful Movies Podcast intro (we actually reached out to the distributor to get their approval, which surprised the heck out of them as forthrightness isn’t the order of the day online). The dialogue from the film is a variant of a phrase, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, an etching by Spanish romantic painter Francisco Goya, part of his series called “Los Caprichos (The Caprices).” (William Blake’s “May God us keep From Single vision and Newton’s sleep” is its anti-quote).

Demons is a film that inspired our line of merchandise, and graphics for this very site’s banner. At first, we deployed our other favorite, Bill Lustig’s Maniac, but Demons seemed more appropriate as the series’ combination of silliness and disgusting gore really resonated with us.

Demons is a near-perfect movie, especially for the ethos of this site, and associated podcast. It’s as enjoyably stupid, gory, weird, and violent as any movie in the horror pantheon. It has a plot that is so ridiculous it could’ve only been conceived by Italians. And it also has a cochlea-assaulting soundtrack of 80s cheese metal that is the perfect tonal accompaniment to skidding around on a motorbike hacking zombies.

The etymology of “demons” is from the Greek, daimōn meaning “deity, genius.” So, it took a few thousand years for the word to go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Still, with its power to entertain decades later, Demons is a popcorn movie in the truest sense, especially as it’s set in a movie theater.

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