(Sorry, what was that? ‘Night of the Demon’ is also an abject piece of shit 1980 flick by James C. Wasson, a staple of the video nasties list, principally remembered for a scene in which a biker stops to take a roadside piss only for a sasquatch to reach out of the bushes and yank his todger off? Oh. Yeah. Bollocks. Well, that completely deep sixes that opening paragraph!)
Ahem. Moving swiftly on.
Kevin Tenney’s ‘Night of the Demons’ is a shlocky low-budget horror movie that cheerful appropriates a melange of iconography from everything from John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ to Lamberto Bava’s ‘Demons’ by way of every campfire story ever told and glues them together with corn syrup and red dye and absolutely no consideration for characterization, narrative or coherence.
Okay; I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: back the fuck up, Fulwood. You made a case for a whole smorgasbord of stalk ‘n’ slash during the 13 for Halloween project – Christ, you even managed to wring some entertainment value out of ‘Slaughter High’ – so how come you’re getting so uppity over ‘Night of the Demons’?
Well, it’s little things like this: Tenney and Augustyn spend the first third of the movie setting up character dynamics – girl-next-door Judy (Cathy Podewell) agree to a Halloween party date with Ivy League type Jay (Lance Fenton) much to the chagrin of punkish former boyfriend Sal (Billy Gallo), who bullies Helen’s smartmouthed younger brother into giving up the location of said party; the party is thrown by goth outcast Angela (Amelia “Mimi” Kinkade) who inveigles her ditzy best pal Suzanne (Linnea Quigley) into helping out on the promise that she’s invited some “cute boys”; white trash oik Stooge (Hal Holvins) and his African-American best bud/whipping boy Rodger (Alvin Alexis) perpetually squabble, much to the frustration of Helen (Allison Barron), who may or may not have romantic attachments to one, both or neither of them; obnoxious jock Max (Philip Tanzini) and his Eurasian girlfriend Frannie (Jill Terashita) flip off Stooge and Rodger when a spare tyre strands them on the side of the road en route to the bash – only for none of the romantic/racial/rivalry-based conflicts to be explored once all of the protagonists are assembled in the same isolated locale, nor any explanation given as to why Angela invited these specific characters or why they accepted given Angela’s obvious status as a pariah.
Expectations of a pressure-cooker environment exacerbated by supernatural occurrences – or, better still, the horror developing internally from these social/prejudicial mores – are punctured when they just start boogie-ing to crap ’80s music, chugging beer and pairing off for the kind of twenty-second sexual encounters that are written in purely to tick the T&A box before the special effects team turn up to tick the blood ‘n’ gore box.
‘Night of the Demons’ is the kind of film that probably came into existence because the people behind it sat around at some point and had a conversation along these lines:
“Hey, you know what would be really cool? If a bunch of teens spent a night in an old house that used to be a funeral parlour.”
“Hey, man, let’s call it Hull House. Geddit? Geddit?!?!”
“Cool. And they awaken a demon.”
“Cool. And they can’t get out because the gate they drove in through has suddenly turned into a brick wall.”
“Awesome! And there’s a séance and they break a mirror, because that’s, like, baaaad luck.”
“Dude, that’s deep. And you what? It’s a girl who gets turned into the first demon and she infects another girl by kissing her.”
“And there’s a couple who get naked and make out in a coffin.”
“Whoa, cool! And one of the girls who gets turned into a demon is a total goth chick and she does this sexy dance and then crouches in front of the fireplace and when she turns round her hands are on fire.”
“Awesome! And there’s this scene where one of the girls rips her blouse open and colours round her boobs with lipstick and then pushes the tube of lipstick into her nipple!”
“Oh, man, this is going to be the coolest movie ever!!!”
And so they wrote these individual scenes, filmed them and decided that continuity was for pussies and the function of an editing machine was much the same as that of a meat grinder.
‘Night of the Demons’ is a delivery system for boobs, blood and rampant swathes of what-the-fuckery. The dialogue is fuck-awful (teenagers didn’t even talk like this in the 50s let alone the 80s); the acting makes it look like Stella Adler had a hand in your average Ed Wood production; and only the nastily effective framing device of the grumpy old man wishing revenge on Halloween revellers brings any degree of real imagination or originality to the table.
All things considered, ‘Night of the Demons’ ought to be a boilerplate, forgettable, unworthy-of-your-time-let-alone-an-800-word-review piece of work. Except for Amelia Kinkade. Single-handedly, she turns the demonically infested Angela into a horror movie icon as mordant, malicious and memorable as any of your Freddies, Jasons or Michaels. And she looks a hell of a lot better in a black party dress.