Night of the Demons (1988)

night-of-the-demons-dvd-coverNight of the Demons is another one of those movies where a bunch of poorly constructed teen characters (they are all “types” as opposed to people – good girl, douche boyfriend, fat slob, scared black guy, girl who flashes panties as part of a shoplifting ring – the usual horror movie tropes) get stalked and murdered by monsters while trapped in a particular location (in this case an old funeral home).

But I’m not going to complain about how stupid it was to not only have a Halloween party at a possessed funeral home, but to also the have a seance which unleashed a demon. After all, how many of us can look back at our high school days and not cringe at some of our choices? I know if I had to do it all over again, I would never agree to help my shop teacher with his so-called after school project.

Our heroine Judy though treads dangerously close to “too stupid to live” territory when in an effort to find a way out of the funeral home, she locates a door which is obviously the door to a crematorium and opens it thinking it might lead her outside. Sure it will – right through the chimney!

She redeems herself a bit when she MacGyvers a pipe from the crematorium into an flamethrower and roasts a pair of her demon-possessed friends, but would the gas really still be turned on when the mortuary had been closed down so long? It’s been years since I ran funeral home, so I’ll give director Kevin S. Tenney the benefit of the doubt on that question. Besides, who am I question the talent who also made Pinocchio’s Revenge?

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Eschewing the high school dance scheduled for Halloween, Judy and her boyfriend meet up with some friends to go to a Halloween party at the haunted funeral home. Characters are forced to puke out enough exposition to clue us in on the property’s violent past. Everyone was murdered there but there was so much blood no one knew who the killer was. It was so heinous, even the maid was killed!

Even more spooky is that the brick wall surrounding the property is built over a stream which for some reason is believed to be a barrier that evil spirits can’t cross. What a lucky break that one of the twerps invited to the party happens to be the foremost expert on the property’s history and accompanying folklore.

And how was it decided who was invited to this party? There were a total of ten people (that’s more of a gathering than a party) made up of four distinct groups and none of the groups seemed to like each other.

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Even aside from the demons possessing and killing everyone, this was a pretty crappy Halloween party. Not everyone was even wearing a costume and those that were half-assed it with lame pirate, doctor and Alice in Wonderland outfits. Heck, after Judy’s boyfriend’s attention wandered away from her to another girl, she probably couldn’t wait for the bowels of hell to open up and save the evening from total disaster!

The film, which was not that engaging leading up to the demons appearing chiefly due to a variety of obnoxious and pointless characters (crabby old man who hates kids, Judy’s kid brother) and scenes that overstay their welcome and add little to film (again with Judy’s kid brother, the shoplifting/upskirt scene), tries hard to get you back on board with several gory deaths and nice demon make up. However, once you realize that by now the movie has run out of what little story it had, you’re just waiting for the one or two survivors to make it out, confident the film has no twists, explanations, style or developments that will set it apart from any other number of hunted high schooler films of the era.

As you might expect, the film initially portrays Judy as a bit of scared whiner (her high pitched voice is the most evil thing in the movie), but inexplicably toughens her up enough to start barbecuing her friends before shifting back to scaredy cat when it’s time to climb over the wall to safety. That she was teamed up with another survivor who was even more of a coward than her makes it doubly hard to root against the demons.

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While the film allegedly enjoys some sort of cult status, like with another so-called cult film, C.H.U.D., I just don’t get it. There’s nothing especially great or horrible about it, it’s not funny (intentionally or unintentionally) though the demons do spout off a few expected one liners and the violence, while graphic, isn’t anything you couldn’t see in more enjoyable demon invasion movies like Demons or Demons 2.

It also tried too hard for Halloween atmosphere in the wrong places (the beginning and the ending of the movie) misguidedly focusing on the old man who had nothing to do with the plot, while what should have been the centerpiece of things, the Halloween party, was lamer than even a bunch of office parties I’ve been to.

By the time scream queen legend Linnea Quigley is flashing her private parts at us, you just feel really sad for her that she had to do so in such a routine teen horror film that didn’t even attempt anything special or different enough to warrant such a prestigious beaver shot.

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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