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13 Reviews

Shadows of the Damned

To hell and back

A shallow story, one-dimensional characters and hilariously rubbish dialogue. On paper, Shadows Of The Damned should be laughed out of the disc tray.

But instead, somehow, these iffy elements combine to create something occasionally inspired. It's like a nonsensical, explosive Van Damme vehicle spliced with The Evil Dead, all set off with an extra sprinkling of deliberate Tarantino naffness. Or in short, a genuine guilty pleasure.

You play as heavily tattooed Mexican demon hunter Garcia Hotspur. His first line of dialogue, as he stands over his fallen human prey: "The bullet train is here, Hellmonkey."

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And that, essentially, is Shadows in a sentence.

At first you don't realise that the trashy nature of Shadows of the Damned is actually one of its biggest qualities. You roll your eyes and dismiss the fact that Garcia's gun is called 'The Boner' as puerile.

And then there's the opening set-up, which would be somewhat offensive in its simplicity if meant to be taken seriously: Garcia gets home after a hard day's demon slaying to find his girlfriend Paula hanged in his bedroom. Before he can even begin to think about crying, the poor man's apartment is invaded by a handful of demons (one of which crawls out of Paula's back-end) ready and willing to be the whipping boys of a game tutorial.

Upon returning to his bedroom, Garcia find Paula alive (phew!) but between the legs of a nine foot, six-eyed demon (damn!) called Fleming. And it's time for the rampant innuendo to begin.

BLEED DEMON

Fleming creepily - and, worryingly, without hands - drags the bent over Paula into an abyss inside his coat. Hotspur fires a shot. "Your bullets have no bite," the beast laughs. "No... penetration. You need more thrust." Slow clap.

Fleming then gives Garcia a choice. He can have Paula back "good as new", if our anti-hero admits that he challenged a greater power and lost.

Now we admit we've no point of reference here, but if all we had to do to rescue our other half from the clutches of a rapey demon was make a humble gesture, we're pretty sure we'd swallow our pride. We could always give Fleming the Vs when he turns to leave.

"I will admit you're a f***ing arsehole" is Hotspur's actual response - which must very much be considered a diplomatic blunder.

This is what we mean. No reason, no depth, no explanations... nothing to get in the way of all the grisly action.

It turns out that the crappy dialogue is actually half the fun. Once you've adjusted your expectations and realise that Suda 51 probably laughed all the way through pre-production as he jotted down one crazy idea after the next, one stupid line after another, you can laugh along quite easily.

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Following Garcia's sweary spurning of Fleming, the demon leaps into Hell. The Mexican jumps after him, and is suddenly joined by old friend Johnson - a slightly randy, well-spoken demon skull on a stick that can morph into one of Garcia's three guns (shotgun, machine gun and The Boner). There's no backstory or introduction for Johnson, you understand. He just appears and the quest begins.

The underworld that Garcia battles through to save his missus is features a similarly whimsical, disgusting scattering of crazy, random notions. Locks on gates are replaced with ugly baby faces that need to be fed with brains, eyes or strawberries before they open. Supplies can be bought from a giant friendly demon at intervals who swallows diamonds (and half your arm) before spewing up the goods. Our legal team inform us that we are not permitted to suggest that hallucinogenic drugs had anything to do with this.

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