Night of the Demons (1988): 7 out of 10: is a 1988 horror-comedy film directed by Kevin Tenney and starring Cathy Podewell, Alvin Alexis, and Hal Havins. The movie revolves around a group of ten teenagers who decide to throw a Halloween party at an abandoned funeral parlor known as Hull House. Unbeknownst to them, the house has a dark history and is haunted by demonic spirits.
As the night unfolds, the teens engage in various party activities, including a séance led by the enigmatic Angela (played by Amelia Kinkade). The séance accidentally awakens the evil spirits inhabiting the house, causing the demons to possess the partygoers one by one. As the demonic possessions escalate, the surviving teenagers must band together to fight off the evil entities and escape the haunted house.
With its blend of horror, comedy, and 1980s nostalgia, Night of the Demons has developed a cult following over the years. The film is known for its memorable special effects, creative makeup, and a mix of humor and gore that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.
The Good: One thing I do when watching an eighties movie is try to figure what character was most like the real me in High School. Night of the Demons has one that comes very close. Jay (Lance Fenton) dresses just like I did at the time (Complete with the same sport coat) and while I was never as good looking as Jay I have to confess I would have gone out the same way he did.
Who I was nothing like was Roger or Raj, as he is called by other characters in the film. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing a character like Raj in any eighties horror film. An actual character with an incredible sense of self preservation. None of this I hear a noise in the basement I am going to investigate. Nope, Raj would rather lock himself in a car and wait for sunrise. The man is a hero and easily the best thing about Night of the Demons.
Night of the Demons being an eighties slasher film, one might expect plenty of well lit gratuitous nudity. And you will not be disappointed. What one might not expect, however, is some superb cinematography by David Lewis. He takes some great shots and setups and mixes in that great camera work from Evil Dead.
Night of the Demons is a handsome film. Great opening credits, good use of sets, that camera work mentioned above, and finally some practical effects that would blow minds today. (Lipstick into the nipple is a particular standout.)
The Bad: With all that praise above for Night of the Demons above, why a less than must see score? It is a little hard to put my finger on, but I am going to have to go with pacing. The opening credits are fantastic, but they go on a little too long.
Night of the Demons is over an hour in before the first kill. The humor is average (I am being kind) and too much of the first half of the film is filled with endless exposition. Not just endless, but way too much detail, one piled upon another.
Not just is the party location an abandoned funeral parlor. It is also surrounded by a stream to encase spirits. It is not just the scene of a grisly familicide of the necrophiliac funeral homeowners, but also of a wayward Indian tribe before the white settlers showed up. You had us at an abandoned funeral home movie.
While I praise the special effects and camera work above, there are some other places where Night of the Demons could have used some help. The soundtrack is noticeably subpar. (Composer Dennis Michael Tenney is the director’s brother, so we may have a Clint Howard situation here.) Also, the acting in Night of the Demons, while not out and out awful, is not exactly a strong point either. Really hard to say whether it was the actors or the script in a couple of cases.
The Ugly: The demons are hideous indeed (Decent make-up).
In Conclusion: I enjoyed revisiting Night of the Demons. It does what it says on the tin and does it better than one might expect. Slower to start than I remember it, but the highlights are still all there and breakout star Amelia Kinkade really is an amazing dancer. Certainly well worth the watch for fans of Eighties movies and horror as well.