Shannon Elizabeth - Angela Feld
Monica Keena - Maddie Curtis
Edward Furlong - Colin Levy
Diora Baird - Lily Thompson
John F. Beach - Jason Rogers
Michael Copon - Dex Thrilby
Bobbi Sue Luther - Suzanne Reed
Genre - Horror/Comedy/B-Movie/Demons/Remake
Running Time - 93 Minutes
When I first heard about the remake to 1988's NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, I was both interested and bewildered. My interest lied mainly in the cast. I mean, Edward FUCKIN' Furlong! Where the hell has that dude been? And Shannon Elizabeth, Diora Baird, Monica Keena, Bobbi Sue Luther, and Tiffany Shepis in one film? Yes please! Just for the actors alone, this film was a must-see [trainwreck or not].
However, why even bother remaking NIGHT OF THE DEMONS? It's a film made specifically for the 1980s! It has a lot of energetic style. It's funny with its high level of camp and cheese. It had great looking special effects for its time. And the acting was pretty terrible, which was pretty much the point. It didn't need a remake. It was fine the way it was. Why hasn't anyone thought about remaking GRADUATION DAY? DON'T GO INTO THE WOODS...ALONE? GLITTER? Those horror films deserve a remake!
But here it is and I finally got to sit down and watch the 2009 version of NIGHT OF THE DEMONS with a mix of intrigue and trepidation. Surprisingly, it wasn't the suckfest I was expecting. But it definitely won't replace the original any time soon either. Let's see why this night isn't worth getting too demonic over.
85 years ago, Evangeline Broussard (Tatyana Kanavka) held a Halloween seance, hoping that it would land her a man. Before I can spell the word desperate, the spell goes wrong - her guests end up missing, her maid goes nuts, and Evangeline hangs herself to escape this madness. Since then, no one has been able to live in her house without strange things happening.
Present day, Angela Feld (Shannon Elizabeth) plans a Halloween party at Evangeline's house without a permit, trying to raise money for rent or to hire a new agent that won't mess up her career like the last one. Anyway, Angela her best friend Suzanne (Bobbi Sue Luther) who in turn invites her friends Maddie (Monica Keena) and Lily (Diora Baird). When they arrive at the party, they're surprised to see Maddie's ex, Colin (Edward Furlong), who's there to sell drugs. Lily's ex, Dex (Michael Copon), is also there with his best friend Jason (John F. Beach).
As the party begins to get wild, the cops storm in and stop it due to the lack of permit on Angela's part. Everyone leaves but these seven characters, who seem to be stuck inside the house. After searching for a way out, they encounter six skeletons in the basement. One of them bites Angela, which turns her into a sex-crazed and violent demon. While the party seems to be over for our human characters, it's just the beginning for these vengeful demons.
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is a decent retelling of a quasi-classic 80s horror film that has gained quite a deserving cult status amongst genre fans. But like I wrote earlier, the original film was a product of its era, almost meant to be placed inside an 80s time capsule because it captures the decade so well. It's obvious that the remake would lose that sense of nostalgia, creating a different feel while mostly maintaining the same elements intact. It's a not a horrible remake - in fact, I found it pretty entertaining for the most part. But the original NIGHT OF THE DEMONS doesn't need an update, which this remake definitely proves from beginning to end.
I think one of the faults for this remake is in the narrative. In the original film, there wasn't much of a backstory about the demons and their reasoning for wanting to kill and possess the other protagonists. It was just something the audience understood and went along with, without asking questions about the motives. I think that's why the story in the original is so strong. We never cared about why the demons were there doing these things. Once we followed them putting lipstick inside their boobs and gouging people's eyes out, the backstory took a backseat to what we were seeing. The remake, however, decided to present a backstory to the house and the reasoning for why the demons were doing this to our protagonists. Now I will admit that I didn't hate the backstory at all. In fact, while generic and pretty cliche, I thought it was believable in context with the rest of the story. However, I don't think it was needed really. I thought the expository dialogue pertaining to this backstory just ruined the flow of the film at times and took away from the atmosphere and tone it was trying to create. The film is supposed to be a pretty silly horror flick, but the backstory has this serious undertone about it that it makes the film feel a bit disjointed. The original worked really well without the history of the house. Why did the screenwriters feel that modern audiences needed one today? Horror audiences aren't stupid. Just give us straightforward information and we can process it.
I also thought that some of the homages to the original were fairly weak. I'm not sure if I should blame screenwriters Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch or just Gierasch for his direction, but these moments added nothing to the story at all. Angela's dance, for example, is one of the highlights of the original. It's obvious that it would be in the remake because it's one of those moments that makes NIGHT OF THE DEMONS what it is. However, it's done fairly weak in the remake and I just wanted to watch the original version. Also, the lipstick moment, I felt, could have been better as well. It was nice to see it, but I thought the original moment had more impact. This version felt like it was in the film because fans of the original were expecting it. It reminded me of those recreated scenes in the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake - nice to see, but the original did them better with their much lower budgets, and better storytelling and direction.
I also felt that the script tried to hard to be funny. There are moments, where Colin tells Jason and Maddie about 'throwing away all logic about the situation because it doesn't make sense', that work because that's what audiences will be thinking anyway. But for the most part, the dialogue tries to be witty and clever by making light of the situation, but it just falls flat. I barely laughed watching this because the comedy was being forced. It also didn't balance well enough with the horror elements either. It's nice to see the attempt to recreate the magic of the original, but that was then and this is now.
I will say that the rest of the story is pretty much the same as the original film. Because of that, the remake for NIGHT OF THE DEMONS works most of the time. The premise is still intact, the three-act structure is still there, and we know just enough about these stereotypical characters to sort of care about what will happen to them. At least Anderson and Gierasch knew and respected what the original's strengths were and kept them in this newer version. So while the added stuff is pretty flawed, the elements of the original still keep the remake afloat and watchable.
The special effects by Drac Studios were a mixed bag. Most of the demon make-up didn't look or feel right to me. Angela looked like a ram in her demonic form, I thought. I think she looked freakier in the original, due to the wonderful make up job by Nick Benson. But the demons didn't look horrible and I bought it. Also, the CGI was pretty lame, I gotta say. The scene where Angela and Suzanne are levitating during Angela's dance made me laugh due to the obviously green screen effect. Also, the lipstick scene was also done with CGI and looked faker than the original version. Plus, the scene was trying to be over-the-top compared to the most subtle original scene, which took away from its effectiveness. There was some nice gore though [could have been pushed further] and some of the CGI worked for me as well. I just thought the old-school charm of the original film was presented stronger than in the remake.
The direction by Adam Gierasch wasn't as good as Kevin Tenney's, but I didn't hate it at all. In fact, it was directed like a modern horror flick would be. There were moments of shaky cam during scenes of action and tension. There were moments of mood and atmosphere that I liked. The pacing was quick and you're never bored. And I loved Gierasch's uses of shadow and light in certain scenes. I kind of wished he had pushed the sex, the gore, and the horror a bit further at times [it felt tamer than the original, to be honest, besides the whole anal demon sex thing], but NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is a visually pleasing film 95 percent of the time. I respect that Gierasch didn't do a shot-by-shot remake and added twists to the story to make it fresh, even if the twists didn't work as well as they should have. That's what a remake is supposed to do - keep what makes the original work while adding something new to make it stand out. Gierasch wasn't totally successful at that when it came to the script, but I thought the film visually looked great besides those CGI scenes. No complaints in this department.
The acting was also decent for the most part. Shannon Elizabeth was mis-cast as Angela, I felt. Maybe it's because I enjoyed Amelia Kinkade in the original NIGHT OF THE DEMONS and its sequel so much that I knew Elizabeth wouldn't compare. She's not the best actress in the world and I don't think this should have been her role. I think Tiffany Shepis, who has a smaller role as Diana [and does a good job, by the way], would have been a better fit. I just never bought Elizabeth in the role and she brought nothing to it to convince me otherwise. Monica Keena, from FREDDY VS. JASON, is probably the best actress [by default] as Maddie. She seemed to realize how silly the story was and pretty much had fun with the role. I think she actually makes a good heroine in horror films because she's grounded in these sort of roles. I liked her. Edward Furlong, was okay as Colin. It sucks his career didn't rise after T2: JUDGMENT DAY back in 1991, but it's good to see him play his role in sort of a goofy and quirky way. He wasn't great by any means, but he still has a presence about him on screen that makes you want to watch him.
The other actors had less to do really. John F. Beach is pretty funny as Jason, who plays a screaming, whining, and dimwitted hero very well. Diora Biard, from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING and the God-awful STAN HELSING, is sexy and shows her boobs. That's enough for me. Michael Copon, from Power Rangers: Time Force and One Tree Hill fame, didn't do all that much as Dex. But he had a memorable anal sex scene with Biard, so that's something. Bobbi Sue Luther, from LAID TO REST, was cute and sexy as Suzanne, although she had nothing on Linnea Quigley in the same role in the original. Speaking of Quigley, she has a cameo at the beginning of the film, dressed in the same outfit that she wore in the original movie. And she even takes the time to bend over and show us her panties. Good times.
And before I end this review, I must say that the soundtrack to this film ROCKED! I really dug the punk and metal songs that played throughout the film. I usually dislike when horror films use modern music like that instead of actually creating an original score, but it worked beautifully here. I dug the soundtrack a lot.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE TRANSFERRING MY DEMONIC SEED THROUGH A SEXY FEMALE'S ANAL CAVITY
- Lily dressed up as a slutty cat. She better hope these hungry demons are either gay males or straight females. Otherwise, she's gonna be eaten out all night.
- Maddie, Lily, and Suzanne felt that men preferred waxed vaginas. Personally, if hair is the only thing growing out of that region, it's all good.
- A hand came out of a mirror, trying to pull Maddie in. Looks like Michael Jackson started something that he was unable to finish. Even after 23 years, it's still time to make that change.
- Angela was pissed that Diana took her party money. Looks like Michael Jackson wasn't lying when he claimed that she was Dirty.
- Demonic possession can pass through intimate acts, like kissing. I made out with a hot she-demon once. All I got for it were several cold sores and a bad case of mono. Bitch.
- Angela displayed her deep throat skills using a bottle of wine. Performing fellation is as wholesome as warm AMERICAN PIE.
- Don't ever shove a tube of lipstick through your boob. You'll end up having a neverending period - and no janitor needs to be cleaning that bloody mess up!
- Colin seems pretty proficient when it concerns dealing with demons. Once you've dealt with Skynet, the T-1000, and getting arrested for freeing lobsters from a restaurant under a drug binge, you can overcome anything.
- The walls started to bleed. Amityville really needs to send a wrecking ball through this damn house. No wonder the real estate market has gone to shit.
THE FINAL HOWL
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is a slightly above-average remake for a film that, quite honestly, didn't need one. Still, I was entertained by this update for the most part, even if some of the newer stuff didn't really work in the film's favor. But it looks great, the acting is decent, and there are moments that are pretty memorable. NIGHT OF THE DEMONS makes for a recommendable rental, but it won't replace the original.
2.5 Howls Outta 4