Black Demons (1991)

AKA Demoni 3 Director: Umberto Lenzi Starring:Keith Van Hoven, Joe Balogh, Sonia Curtis, Philip Murray, Juliana Teixeira, Maria Alves, Clea Simones .Italy/Brazil. 1h 28m

With a host of amazing titles under his belt already, from Giallo, Poliziotteschi, horror and gore, Lenzi struggled to make such an equal impact as Cannibal Ferox, Almost Human and Nightmare City in his 90’s Voodoo romp Black Demons. Originally titled as Demoni 3, with the anticipation of being a third in the Lamberto Bava’s series the movie has very little to do with the cult series.

What starts out not a million miles away from any other Voodoo based zombie story, an accidental uttering of a n ancient curse in a foreign tongue results in the undead coming back to life to prey on the living. But is this the first undead race war? Usually zombies don’t see color, even though this sketch does suggest something to the contrary.

Dick (Van Hoven) is traveling with his sister and her boyfriend to Brazil on vacation, but Dick isn’t in it for the sun and sea, he’s more interested in Black Magic, and after serving his way into a Voodoo Ceremony he records the entire event on cassette, playing it back later in a graveyard all hell breaks loose and the black enslaved dead come back to live searching for white people to kill.

Character depth and narrative are second place to Lenzi’s need to zoom in on his signature special effects and gore. Each Zombie has a signature weapon, something brought back from their Plantation lives, but the formulaic corner, toruture and kill, repeat does get a little tiresome before the penultimate ending. The Zombie design is somewhere between Sugar Hill and Zombie 3, slow moving and determined to maime before killing, and they love to go for the soft bits.

They will tear, rip, and bite anyone in their path of vengeance.

The need for close up gore to try and make it seem as authentic and long lasting as possible, a side effect of the 80’s Italian Horror scene is well used in this early 90’s mix of undead mayhem. but along with the unsettling sound effects and starting soundtrack it is well among the Bavas and Fulci’s. Ultimately Black Demons is far from Lenzi’s best. It’s hard to believe the same directors gave us such unit’s of movies in the past, but for anyone who genuinely appreciates his works this really needs to be seen to get a complete view of his mastery.

I’m probably one of few who really cherish the movie, it doesn’t pretend to be anything that the pulpy gorefest that it advertises itself to be. There’s a moral code underneath, what if all the enslaved black undead did come back to life for revenge, the Americans would have hell of a problem!


Rating: 6/10

Related: Demons 2 (1986), Hitcher In the Dark (1989), Ghosthouse (1988), WRZ (2020)
Lists: Zombies attack, Siege Movies
Spotlight:Umberto Lenzi

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