Don't worry, we will never spoil anything pre-jump, though obviously everything after the break is operating under the assumption you've seen the film to the right, so be warned. And a big tip of our hat to Arbogast on Film for inspiring us with his post The One You Might Have Saved.
Now, follow me to the magical land beyond the break where we'll discuss how Lamberto Bava's 1985 splatterfest Demons would have turned out differently if I'd been allowed to write the screenplay.
Cause of Death/Method of Escape: Bitten by two demonically-transformed theater patrons, hung from the balcony, and then plummets to the floor below.
Verdict: I Would Have Saved Him
Reason: Italian horror films have never been known for having well-developed characters, and Demons is no exception. Tony, as portrayed by actor Bobby Rhodes, does absolutely nothing to disprove this idea. However, while this mutton-chopped pimp may lack in the depth department, he definitely makes up for it with his gruff, badass demeanor. If you ever find yourself trapped in a theater with hordes of blood-thirsty demons trying to devour you, Tony is the guy you want on your team.
Unfortunately, the quartet of writers who worked on Demons -- Dardano Sacchetti, Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, and Lamberto Bava -- decided that while Tony was absolutely awesome as a character, he couldn't survive to the end credits. Instead, we're stuck with the more boring leads played by Urbano Barberini and Natasha Hovey. Tony, who spends the first part of the film running around being all Superfly with his two working girls (he's so cool he sparks a J right in the theater) doesn't even get the dignity of an awesome demise. After serving as the brains and brawn of the survivor group, you'd think Rhodes would at least earn the privilege of dying in a spectacularly gruesome and memorable way. Alas, it wasn't to be. Tony does get bit by two demons and the trio goes over the balcony -- entangled in a rope -- while the monsters continue to gnaw on our wannabe blaxploitation hero. One of the other characters cuts the rope and Tony falls to what appears to be his death (more on that in a minute...). It's kinda cool, but I can't shake the feeling that the baddest badass in the whole movie deserved more. Barberini gets to ride around on a dirt bike slashing demons with a katana and this is the best they could come up with for Tony?
The one plus here is that like zombies, those bitten by a demon come back as monsters. Rhodes may be done as the human verison of Tony, but he does reappear throughout the rest of Demons in a creepy hellspawn fashion. The funny thing is, I think Tony was scarier when he was human. You don't wanna mess with this switchblade-sportin' pimp, that's for sure. He'll wreck your world. Plus, once the human Tony is gone, the rest of Demons suffers because none of the remaining survivors are even remotely interesting.
Bava and the rest of the writing team clearly realized their mistake, because Bobby Rhodes is back in Demons 2. Sure, he's not Tony the pimp -- he's Hank, the badass gym instructor instead -- but he's still the toughest mofo in the whole movie. It's a shame Bava didn't steal a page from Woo's A Better Tomorrow 2, though. When the first film in that series made the mistake of killing off the coolest character of all, Chow Yun Fat's Mark -- Woo and company brought him back for the second film as Mark's "twin brother." Surely they could have done that for Demons 2, right? I bet Tony had a twin brother pimp somewhere...