I haven’t watched the original “Night of the Demons” from 1988 in a very long time, probably more than fifteen years, and since I’ve done away with all of my VHS tapes, I can’t re-watch it at the moment.
Kevin S. Tenney’s horror movie was a minor one, but it did get a fan following. I can’t say I’m sure why. I hardly remember anything at all from the movie — except for the much written about scene in which scream queen Linnea Quigley sticks a lipstick into her boob. I seem to remember that the opening scenes were awful and that the movie as a whole was rather pedestrian. I don’t even remember if it was fun and entertaining or not.
The 1988 movie spawned two sequels, I haven’t seen any of them, and in 2008, Adam Gierasch directed a remake of Tenney’s film. The new version of “Night of the Demons” played festivals in 2009, but it didn’t get officially released until 2010, when it went straight to DVD in the U.S. just before Halloween. I’ve no idea if this movie was intended for a theatrical release.
This is of course yet another remake nobody asked for, however, in this case few have seen or even heard about the original. The opening of Gierasch’s movie is pretty cool: in the 1920s, a bunch of people gathered in the Broussard Mansion gets possessed and die in violent ways — one woman hangs herself, and the noose manages to rip her head of. This prologue is shown as a scratchy silent movie in sepia tones, complete with dialogue on title cards.
Then we jump to present day, when a certain Angela (Shannon Elizabeth) has rented the mansion for a big Halloween party. Among the guests are Maddie (Monica Keena), Suzanne (Bobbi Sue Luther), Lily (Diora Baird) and their boyfriends. The party is wild and cops arrive and throw everybody out — everybody but the girls and boys mentioned above, plus small time drug peddler Colin (Edward Furlong), who get locked up in the place.
In the basement, they find sex skeletons — this scene actually looks like the scenes from Hell in Lucio Fulci’s “The Beyond”. Angela notices that one of the skulls has a gold tooth, but when she tries to tear it out, she cuts herself — kind of like in Lamberto Bava’s “Demons”. Angela turns into a demon and one by one, the others get infected.
Colin discovers there’s something behind the plaster on the walls in one of the rooms in the basement, so they scrape and tear the plaster off — in a scene reminiscent of the one in Dario Argento’s “Deep Red”. And when the sun finally rises, the clocks start going backwards really fast, turning the time back — yes, just like in “The Evil Dead”.
Wow, this remake sure is filled with loans from other, better movies. I’ve no idea if it’s deliberate; if the scenes are supposed to be homages or little winks to horror fans.
Linnea Quigley has a brief cameo early on in the movie, wearing the same — or a similar — dress as the one she wore in the original version. A middle-aged woman dressed like that looks pretty creepy… Modern day scream queen, the very cool Tiffany Shepis, has a small part as well in the beginning; she’s Diana, the girl who helps Angela arranging the party. Unfortunately she disappears from the story as soon as the cops arrive.
This new “Night of the Demons” is a fast-paced little movie, it’s rather entertaining, never boring, and it delivers some nifty gore and splatter — except for some super crappy CGI in the final scenes, the demon make-up and effects are pretty good. There’s a new variant of the good old lipstick in the tit gag, this time it continues in a nasty way. The rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack is really good, by the way.
Unfortunately, the screenwriters seem to have adopted the Rob Zombie way of writing dialogue. It’s packed with foul language. People are swearing all the time. Now, I’ve nothing against cussing, I swear a lot myself, I swear all the f*cking time, actually. But these kids are the heroes of the movie, they’re supposed to be likable, we’re supposed to root for them. Speaking like a bunch of sailors just makes them appear as sluts and assholes. Okay, some of them are sluts, but that’s not what I meant.
The general impression is let down by the constant swearing and a few loans too many. Also, I was a bit distracted by the fact that Monica Keena looks a lot like Brittany Murphy.
“Night of the Demons” is watchable, but very, very unnecessary and easily forgotten.