Saturday, October 27, 2018

Your Daily Scare: Night of the Demons (1988)

"I've never made it in a coffin before." 

A well-preserved slice of 80s cheese, Night of the Demons is an artifact of a time when mullets weren't shameful, boom boxes and Coors were party essentials and bared boobs were the coin of the realm. If that sounds familiar, it's because we've already visited a couple of films from that era with Fright Night and The Lost Boys; unlike those films, Night of the Demons doesn't have much of the way in shocks or wit to defend itself.

Night of the Demons is the story of a group of teenagers who unwisely decide to hold a Halloween party in an abandoned mortuary. ("Isn't a seance a little chancy?" asks one of the more thoughtful characters.) They're soon set upon by demons ... but not too soon, as the audience is treated with an hour-long windup that includes a bevy of stock 80s characters including The Shy Virgin, The Tarted-Up Easy Girl (Linnea Quigley, having the time of her life) and the Obnoxious Fat Guy.

When the horror arrives, it's solidly delivered. The makeups and effects are mostly decent, and the camera work is lively and smart. (One kill, where a close-in camera spins around the victim in embrace with his killer, is especially canny.) The acting is hit or miss; some of the performers are painfully wooden but Quigley, on her way to cult fame, pegs the film's wavelength immediately and delivers an appropriately outsized performance.

You'll probably do more laughing than screaming while watching Night of the Demons, so rooted is it in its era and yoked to the tropes later mocked by meta films such as Cabin in the Woods. But at a zippy hour-and-a-half with some gore and giggles, it's worth a look.

Side note: Much of what was popular in the 1980s can be left in its grave, but we really should endeavor to bring back 'butthole' as a widely used insult.

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