For the one day that horror fans can celebrate their love of all things scary with getting strange looks Halloween is a great time of year. Even the greatest stalk and slash film ever took its title from the actual day. Instead of concentrating on the more well-known Halloween films, it’s time to give the lessor known films set on Halloween their due – for me it’s Night of the Demons.
A totally B grade, fun, kitsch and camp film from the 80s, back when the rules of a horror film were simple and when done in the right way they were effective. The plot - On Halloween night, a bunch of teens decide to go to a party at an abandoned funeral parlour. "Hull House", rumoured to be built on an evil patch of land & underground stream, is the place. While starting the party, the teens gather around a big mirror to perform a séance – obviously things don’t get well and from there we get some very flimsy excuses for T & A, some pretty decent practical effects and some very dire acting. The film has probably one of the great – if not over long – opening credits in any film, it really sets the tone well.
The dialogue in Night of The Demons is so very 1980s trying to be cool speak – bodacious was my favourite amongst others. However there are some good one liners - most of them by Stooge (Hal Havins). The cast are pretty horrendous actors but this lends itself to the film giving it a certain charm. As mentioned before the acting is best left alone, everyone tries and I'm not sure if they are deliberately awful or not but they have fun at least. The two party hosts Angela (Amelia Kinkade) and Suzanne (Linnea Quigley) have fun with their roles, getting plenty of mileage out their bodies before everyone starts getting bloody. The rest of the cast make up the tropes seen in every other horror flick but it doesn't really matter, the film is about trying to scare you but have some real fun whilst doing it.
There are some surprisingly good practical effects in the film as well, from gouged out eyes, impalements, severed arms, disappearing lipsticks and all of them look great. The demons themselves also are done very well looking ugly and scary. Director Kevin Tenney pulls off some great shots, when the teens are in and around the ‘Hull House’ and he is not afraid to leer at things either be they a gory injury or naked character.
With the film defining the word gratuitous it seems Night of the Demons knows what it wants to be –a fun but not at all scary film that is none too subtle. Be sure to stick around for the tacked on ending, which has some of the best gore in the entire film.
- Ryan Morrissey-Smith