It's Halloween night.
And a group of good-time teens has broken into an abandoned funeral parlor
with plans to raise a little hell. And that's exactly what they do. For
their intrusion has awakened an ancient, demonic evil whose hunger for
human souls knows no bounds. And now, the monstrous predator is out to
turn their Halloween party into an unending celebration of sheer terror.
"As a matter of fact it was on Halloween night. One of them went crazy and slaughtered the entire family. Then committed suicide. They could never figure out who did it. Too much blood and guts."
Night of the
Demons is a good reason to love horror. No, it's not a masterpiece,
but it delivers an hour-and-a-half of fun entertainment, which is more
than can be said of many other so-called "scary" movies. I believe critics
sometimes view horror films in the wrong manner, looking at only how often
illogical they are. Sometimes (actually, most of the time), that can be
a valid complaint, but Night of the Demons is too much fun for any
sort of nitpicking analysis (though they can still be fun to point out).
Bad girl Angela
and her equally rowdy best friend Suzanne have invited 8 others to their
Halloween party, in the deserted Hull House, a place which has had stories
developed around it, legends of how the land there is possessed by evil.
Story has it that the previous tenants went crazy and killed each other,
but the teens pass it off as nothing serious.
groups arrive, with Jay and her girlfriend Judy, as well as her old boyfriend
Sal along for the night. Also present are Judy's two friends, as well as
Rodger, a semi-religious and scared young man, and his friends Stooge and
Helen. Eventually, the 10 teens begin to fool around with superstition,
and they foolishly ignore all the stories they've heard about the place.
A demon awakens
in the bowels of the house, and it possesses one of the girls, and the
process eventually passes around until only 3 of them remain human. Their
attempts to escape become futile, as all the doors mysteriously lock themselves
and all the exits are blocked. They find themselves trapped inside the
large, old house, and must find a way out before the demons get to them.
the Demons is basically a fun horror flick that has no pretensions
at all. The plot is a re-hash of The Evil Dead set inside a much
larger house and the movie offers nothing particularly original, but it's
certainly the kind of movie to watch on a late-night for some good spooky
thrills and chills.
Tenney is a crucial reason to making the film work. His style is definitely
reminiscent of Sam Raimi's, and most horror buffs will get a sense of deja
vu from the "demon" POV, but it's done just as impressively here, particularly
in the first long tracking shot, which also conveys the immense size of
the house as the camera pans over several hallways. Tenney's direction
may not be incredibly original, but there's no doubt that he knows what
angles to shoot and he keeps the proceedings entertaining the whole way.
The movie builds
up nicely, and it's all paid off in the last 45 minutes, which work as
quite a roller coaster ride of scares and chills. The second half plays
like a chase film as the demons hunt down their human prey. Tenney's direction
is all over the place, making the house seem like a large, complex maze
with dead ends all over the place. There are some good shocks and suspense
throughout, and you're also never really certain if anybody will even make
it out alive at all.
to the movie's appeal is the gratuitous gore and make-up effects (courtesy
of Steve Johnson), which are well done; and the excessive nudity. Let's
face it, without these, the movie probably wouldn't be quite as fun. The
gore effects include eye gougings, hideous demon transformations, and a
real gruesome scene where a guy gets his tongue bitten off. Most of the
nudity is supplied by Linnea Quigley. Ah, speaking of Quigley, there's
the infamous lipstick scene (spoiler here), where she runs the lipstick
in a circle around her breast until jams the whole thing inside her nipple.
Pointless and illogical, yes, but undeniably odd and amusing.
The script obviously
doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Early on, it's shown that the demons
like fire, but the humans later use flames to repel them, and it works.
There are a lot of odd, dynamic changes in the characters, as if though
writer Joe Augusty attempted to add twists in there, but isn't very effective
because these characters aren't very well-developed in the first place.
The good guy boyfriend turns out to be a loser, the wild guy is actually
pretty nice, and the "dumb" and "scaredy-cat" blonde holds her own fairly
well (to be fair, the transition for the blonde, Cathy Podewell, works
I'd say the
acting's a bit subpar, but I suppose no one would really care. Cathy Podewell
is quite a sexy actress, which is probably the reason she was given the
lead role, but she can still act. Her biggest problem is that sugary-sweet
voice of hers, which sounds completely out of place and makes her seem
like too much of a nice girl. She and Rodger are probably the film's only
likable characters, simply because they're the only ones who seem to show
intelligence (though Podewell's dumb, big-breasted blonde routine at the
beginning hinders that just a bit). Mimi Kincade has a lot of fun as Angela,
the girl who eventually gets possessed and leads the other demons.
the Demons is only for those who don't mind a bit of violence and nudity
without much originality. Those looking for a superbly brilliant film should
steer away, but the movie has "fun" spelled all over it. It's never dull
and should keep its intended viewers entertained. Plus, it looks even better
when placed in comparison to Lamberto Bava's awful "Demons."
- Night of the Demons began as a spec script by the appropriate
and succinct title Halloween Party.
- Had the film opened nationwide with the numbers it earned in Detroit, it was projected to have earned $13 million domestically in its opening weekend - which would have ranked it amongst the top grossing horror films of its decade.
- The budget for Night of the Demons was $1,200,000 and grossed $3,109,904
in the USA.
- Linnea Quigley had to come in and practice eye-gouging.
- Produced for a very modest $1.2 million, the film racked up outrageously large grosses in its limited release. Debuting in Detroit, it hit New York City at Thanksgiving and earned $3.109m, holding screens until the end of the year.
- Filmed April 8, 1987 through May 31, 1987.
- Joe Augustyn, screenwriter, fired out the Halloween Party script
in a single month while visiting his hometown haunts.
- Linnea Quigley (Suzanne) and special effects artist Steve Johnson met when she came in to get the mold for her fake breasts done. They were later married.
- Released September 9, 1988 to US theaters.
- Parmelee, location manager, discovered the abandoned building that became
the film's Hull House in the Adams district of Los Angeles, a portion of
the South Central area considered by many to be scarier in real life than
it was in the film. The building was owned at the time by a supermarket
chain that planned to demolish it, but had been held up by historical advocates
fighting to preserve it. Unable to go through with their destruction plans,
the chain rented the house to the Halloween Party production team for several
months. For a relatively meager $25,000, the buidling not only became the
Hull House location, but also served as several of the film's other interior
sets and provided production offices, dressing rooms, and other necessary
facilities. Additional locations in the Adams district were used for the
film, along with the suburban streets of the San Fernando Valley, which
became the residential setting for the opening and concluding scenes.