Ahhh nothing like the good old eighties movie with a healthy dose of nudity and gore. As soon as I heard that sweet sweet opening synthwave track, I knew I made the right choice. Night of the Demons is a fun horror comedy about a bunch of teenagers who accidentally summon a demon. Now, that’s a Halloween night they’re not going to forget. Although some of them are going to forget it as they will be dead by dawn. Dead by dawn, dead by dawn, dead by dawn! This movie provided the blueprint for countless others that would try to capitalize on this formula. It also spawned two sequels and one 2009 remake.
It’s important to note that Night of the Demons is equal parts comedy and horror. It’s either funny or scary with just a couple of scenes that are a blend of the two. Something that you rarely see in modern additions to the genre. This is a movie that knows exactly what it is and what it’s offering. It’s not aiming for stars, it’s just trying to entertain you for 85 minutes and that’s it. Of course, it’s drawing inspiration from eighties classics like The Evil Dead and Italian splatter-fest Demons. Only it’s not afraid of nudity as we get our first glimpse of what’s to come within the first five minutes.
I should also mention my favorite movie in this weird subgenre The Return of the Living Dead. Not just because the stories are similar, although we spend a lot more time here just goofing around, but also because they both feature the one and only Linnea Quigley. Here, she plays a similar role of a vixen who uses her good looks to seduce horny teenagers. I’m also guessing that going for that full-frontal nudity had something to do with it. The acting overall is a bit hammy but it fits perfectly with the casual style this movie is going for. It’s like they were trying to be as stereotypical as they possibly could. This especially goes for the character of Sal played by Billy Gallo.
I also have to mention the opening scene where we see Stooge, a rather chunky prankster wearing a pig’s nose as a Halloween mask. Now this reminds me of a true story comedian and actor Artie Lang told to both Vice and Howard Stern. He was shooting a skit and spent three hours sitting in a chair while the make-up department was trying to make him look like a pig. The shoot went on in the night, so our homeboy Artie called his cocaine dealer to hit a few bumps. They meet up and he proceeds to snort cocaine through the fucking snout trying to not fuck up the make-up. I know this is not related to the movie but it’s fucking hilarious. And to hear him tell it…
Moving on, Night of the Demons is a perfect party movie. I mean, it works just as well if you watch it alone like I did but I have a feeling that it’s much better in company. And if there happens to be some weed and beer involved, well, now you’re cooking. You can also play the who’s going to die first game and who’s going to survive game. Those are always fun. When it comes to the visuals, you can bet your sweet ass that there’s a remastered version that looks freakin’ flawless. The practical effects stood the test of time and they still look believable. Towards the end, the atmosphere gets really creepy and these effects only enhance it.
I was especially surprised by the lipstick and breasts scene featuring, of course, Mrs. Quigley. She actually ended up marrying the guy who was doing the special effects, Steve Johnson. With all of this being said, you can still feel that Night of the Demons is a bit rough around the edges. Some scenes feel too improvised like they were shot with just a general idea of how things should “feel” like. And then they just let the actors just “go for it”. Something similar happened in the 2000 movie The Convent featuring almost exactly the same story.
Director: Kevin Tenney
Writer: Joe Augustyn
Cast: Cathy Podewell, Alvin Alexis, Hal Havins, Linnea Quigley, Billy Gallo, Allison Barron
Fun Facts: Shot in just four weeks and on a budget of $1.2 million, Night of the Demons quickly became hugely successful. If they somehow managed to push it to more theaters it would’ve been one the highest grossing horror movies of the decade.