5.08.2008

Night of the Demons (1988)

DIRECTED BY
Kevin Tenney


STARRING
William Gallo - Sal
Cathy Podewell - Judy
Alvin Alexis - Rodger
Amelia Kinkade - Angela
Lance Fenton - Jay
Hal Havins - Stooge
Linnea Quigley - Suzanne

Year - 1988

Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4



Ahhh...the 80s. Ronald Reagan became President after dumping his beloved chimp. "Say No To Drugs", "Relax", and "Where's The Beef?" became pop culture phrases. Michael Jackson was black. Madonna was a slut. Tiffany and Debbie Gibson were the pop princesses we could look up to. No reality shows. Paris Hilton wasn't all over the news. The 80s were some real good times, especially when it came to the horror genre. Slasher films were big and watchable on so many different levels. Masked killers terrified us. Holidays were celebrated in blood rather than gifts or parties. Gore and nudity were top selling points over the story. There were no Asian kids making weird noises and climbing stairs like contortionists. We could watch a horror film and not expect much but unintentional laughs and some good gory times. Sigh...where have those days gone?


Nowadays, everything is PG-13 lame and politically correct, creating boredom in the horror genre. But I'll always look back on the 80s with much fondness as a young wolf cub with dreams of writing my own gory horror film. Yes, let's look back at 80s horror with love and affection. Films were a lot more fun to watch in the good old days of Reaganomics and yuppie cokehead heaven. NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is a perfect example of how great the 80s were. Wake me up before you go-go, because this is an 1988 Halloween party that I don't want to leave any time soon.

PLOT
A goth chick named Angela (Amelia Kinkade) invites a group of teens from the neighborhood to a Halloween party at Hull House, an abandoned funeral parlor. Once inside, they perform a seance that releases an evil spirit trapped inside the basement. Once the spirit is released, it starts possessing people until all hell breaks loose.

REVIEW
After watching serious fare and crappy adventure and horror films for the past few weeks, it's nice to finally sit down in front of the television with the lights off to watch a horror film that doesn't take itself seriously at all. NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is a film I've watched when I was younger and remember enjoying. And guess what? I still enjoy it the same now. Sure it's not even remotely original [THE EVIL DEAD and zombie films were obvious influences for the film]. And yes, the acting and dialogue is pretty bad. But that's what makes this film so appealing and so good. It's bad in a good way, and you can't help but appreciate that. With a title of NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, I wasn't expecting Shakespeare In The Park caliber acting anyway. All I expected was a film that involved demons killing people at night. And I got that. Sometimes, simple is better.

Director Kevin Tenney [who also directed another cult horror fave, WITCHBOARD] does an excellent job taking the helm. The direction is fast paced with kenetic energy that never makes you bored with what you're watching. And the camera movements were all over the place, creating a visual flair that most directors wish they had. Tenney was obviously influenced by Sam Raimi's style of filmmaking, as THE EVIL DEAD first-person shots of the demon running rampant inside Hull House is in full view. And the levitating possessed Angela hovering all over the house was also a homage. Tenney also created a very creepy mood and lots of tension, especially towards the end, giving this film quite a kick in the ass. Just a very well done directing job by Mr. Tenney that makes me long for the days where creativity still existed in the horror genre.

The make-up and SFX work were also really good. The demonic faces of those who were possessed were pretty neat. The seance scene with that CGI looking demonic spirit was pretty creepy. Angela levitating again gave me chills. The demonic voices were cool. The gore was pretty sick [especially that eye gouge scene and the razor blade scene...ewww]. And that lipstick scene with Linnea Quigley...wow, when's the last time you ever saw THAT in any film? I would have never known how that was done if I didn't watch the 14 minute doumentary with Linnea Quigley on the DVD. Who needs CGI to do stuff like that when you can just make molds and do it the old fashioned way? Really impressive stuff for a pretty low budget affair.

And while the acting wasn't exactly Oscar-worthy, it was memorable noneoftheless. Cathy Podewell played the stereotypical virgin, Judy, who felt kissing was being too intimate in a relationship. She had some really bad dialogue and her acting was borderline annoying, but she had a great butt. So that counts for something.

William Gallo as Sal was the stereotypical Italian Guido, but he entertained the hell out of me. The accent cracked me up and his tough-guy persona was funny as well. His exchange with Judy's little brother, played by a prick-ish and future WILD AND CRAZY KIDS host Donnie Jeffcoat, had me laughing from beginning to end. Who knew a caricature of an italian could be so likeable? I liked the guy.

Alvin Alexis as Rodger was the token black guy, but he was the only character with any depth. He knew that the seance was a bad thing to begin with, being from a religious background, and Alexis' body language and facial expressions told the whole story every scene he was in. I really liked him and I felt he was the best actor in the film. Nice to see his fate wasn't stereotypical as in other horror films.

Amelia Kinkade as Angela was cool. She had the goth look down and the demonic act down pat as well. Is it sad that I thought she was a better actress possessed than she was normal. Either way, she creeped me out. If that was her intention, she gets kudos from me. And her dance to "Stigmata Martyr" was pretty hot, I gotta admit. She did good.

Lance Fento as Jay was just there for me. He had great clothes and that was it. He was the kind of dude I want to beat up just for the hell of it. And I'm sure no one would even stop me.

And Linnea Quigley...oh the immortal Linnea...as Suzanne was a pleasure from beginning to end. From the first time we see her [or her panty-covered goods], to her booty-shaking dancing, to her lesbian kiss with Amelia Kinkade [BOING!], to her nude scene [BOING! BOING!], and to her lipstick scene [BOING! BOING! BOING!], she mesmerizes you. Oversexed chicks in 80s horror rule, especially those who don't need a purse to hide their lipstick. They don't make scream queens like they used to. Linnea could teach these modern actresses how to really be a horror actress. I admire a girl who's not afraid to act dumb and get naked. I love you, Linnea. Call me...

THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE WATCHING THIS FILM

1) Wearing jack-o-lantern briefs can be dangerous if you're a straight male. You'll only be giving ideas to gay men onto where they want to place their candles.

2) If you want to shoplift successfully, have one of your more sexual female friends distract the clerks with her va-jay-jay. No matter what anybody says, every straight man loves HELLO KITTY!

3) If you're boyfriend is looking to score, you're taking a risk by dressing up as Alice In Wonderland. And if you do decide to play Tweedledee and Tweedledum with him, make sure he brings the Mad Hatter to the party. If he doesn't, you'll probably be late like the White Rabbit, if you get my drift.

4) Don't ever party inside or near funeral parlors. You'll only get yourself into trouble. See also: PHANTASM, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, and PET SEMETARY.

5) White people should not dance. That's why SOUL TRAIN is still on the air and AMERICAN BANDSTAND isn't.

6) When you get possessed, you dance like you're trying out for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. We don't need to keep that annoying Mary Murphy woman on the air longer than she already is, okay?

7) Suzanne inserted her lipstick into one of her boobs. Now that's what I call breast feeding!

8) Don't look at your partner during sex. If you do, the sex will be so good that you're eyes will pop out. Literally.

9) Pipes and fire make a bad combination and can be very dangerous. Ask any crackhead and he'll/she'll agree with me.

10) Marriage is a razor-sharp risk that you may never recover from. I mean, who knew eating your wife's pie would be so deadly?

THE FINAL HOWL

NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is a lot of fun. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn't try to reinvent horror. It doesn't try to be a serious scary time. It's just a film with a lot of energy, humor, and style. If you love 80s horror, you'll love this film. Even if you're not a fan, check this one out anyway on a Halloween night. You might actually enjoy it. With borderline terrible acting, cheesy dialogue, massive amounts of nudity, and some pretty cool gore, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is a horror film that, in today's society, is rarely made and appreciated for what it is. I'd eat a razor-blade pie for this film anytime.

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