The Review: Ahh, the 1980’s. Who could ever forget them? Truthfully, I’m of the opinion that right now we’re pretty much reliving them. Pop music dominates the charts again, bad hairstyles are in vogue and the level of materialism that our society is experiencing is even beyond that of the eighties. Horror is even having a resurgence, so not all bad things are coming about! With all of this said though, there was something special and unique about the eighties. Something that brought us some truly immortal b-movies, such as the classic I present to you today: Night of the Demons. A film that featured the only box at the video store that actually scared me off as a child. The sight of that demon girl on the front cover and her devilish smile, even as a fan of Jason and Freddy at the time my own fear of that supernatural element was still just a bit too much for me to conquer at that young age. So here I am, probably sixteen or so years later – and I have stared down my own fears! Yeah, not too impressive for a twenty-something who has seen pretty much every horror great out there and a large portion of the very worst. Still, I am happy to report that Night of the Demons is about everything you could expect from a eighties possession horror!… which is to say, not a whole lot.
Night of the Demons works as a combination of The Evil Dead, Demons and Night of the Living Dead. It’s the same old scenario, youthful teenagers head out to a remote and spooky place (in this film, a haunted mansion, in others possibly a graveyard or morgue) and before long someone is going through a satanic ritual and demons are harvesting the souls of the living. This is about as standard as a group of teenagers converging on a location all to slowly be picked off one by one by a masked killer. So, yeah, if you’re as late to the game as I was – Night of the Demons isn’t going to blow your socks off with its originality or its fresh look on the genre. Still, we know the set up, we know what to expect – but how does it deliver? Well, not too bad. You come into films like these looking for a few things. Nostalgia is one, although not the greatest reason to look back on films like these. Everything is so very late-eighties to the point that it hurts. There are all the walking cliches one would expect, the tough guy with the New York sounding accent – the heft fellow that no one really likes and generally pushes them around. The leading woman, her boyfriend, his buddy the comic relief. All the favorites are here and it reminds you of that time when no one seemed to mind that they had already seen all of this done a million times. That or audiences were simply too blind to realize it. Now our audiences guffaw over ridiculously self-aware characters who all but know that they’re in a cheesy horror film, so what can you say, the times they change but people don’t.
The performances tend to be pretty standard for the genre, with few standouts. There’s Linnea Quigley, as beautiful as she ever has been and showing off a lot of her fantastic physique. Aside from Quigley, well, the girls are pretty (especially Jill Terashita, yowza!) and the guys are all party dudes looking for a good time. There’s not a lot of room for growth here. Still, the second and possibly most important thing that people come back to these films for; the violence, it’s very well done here. Although not a constant gore fest, there’s a decent amount of violence to be had and the latex demons created for the film are all top notch. Although not as scary as when I was a little kid, the demons really are very well made. I suppose at the end of the day what made the film stand out for me though, would be the conclusion – which although isn’t anything particularly earth shattering – who survives, who doesn’t and who turns their back on the side of good did turn out to be a bit surprising.
Night of the Demons really isn’t a great film, or a classic of the genre that if you miss you’re going to regret – but still, for those of us who saw that video cover featuring a demonic Angela staring at us with sharpened teeth, it’s definitely worth the watch. The film goes through peaks that break free from the monotony of the average, but overall it just is what it is. Another horror from the eighties with some decent blood, great FX and a few breast shots. Definitely a fun time waster but far from an essential.