Saturday, September 26, 2009

In short: Night of the Demons (1988)

(Not to be mixed up with all the other movies titled Night of the Demon/s)

Angela (Amelia Kinkade), the only goth in town, invites a bunch of horror movie stereotypes - among them our heroine, the whiny virgin girl to end all whiny virgin girls Judy (Cathy Podewell) and 80s horror strip icon Linnea Quigley - to her Halloween party in the old haunted house at the edge of town.

The house has quite an unpleasant history, what with it having been built on ground the Indian population identified as cursed, and once having been a funeral home whose owners were then one day found dead, their body parts scattered all over the grounds.

It will come as it has to come. The kids will be locked inside the building, Linnea will drop her clothes, and demons will possess a few of the kiddies. There will be screaming and running around. Oh my.

Night of the Demons is cheesy 80s horror distilled to its bare essence - never has the hair been bigger, never the heroine more annoying, seldom the concept of what is supposed to be scary less scary.

The film nearly exclusively consists of pilfered parts of other, mostly better or at least more entertaining films. The main inspirations here were obviously Sam Raimi's Evil Dead movies and Lamberto Bava's Demons, but where the former films have Raimi's creative drive and humor, and the latter Italian bugfuck insanity, this one is just coasting on other people's achievements and copying some surface features without ever showing much of a clue about what to do with them. It is a perfect example that it's not enough for a filmmaker to be a genre fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of those who went before; if one doesn't have a single idea of one's own, one won't make a worthwhile movie. That way, only Hatchet and Rob Zombie films lie.

If its models are a feast, Night of the Demons is more like a warmed up microwave hamburger, filling, but forgettable and possibly constipating. In fact, about an hour after watching it, I have already forgotten most of the film. The only memorable parts to me were the inexplicable scene in which one of Quigley's breasts eats her lipstick (that way, unhinged entertainment lies), a pointless sub-plot about a Halloween-hating old man (that way, filler and digression lies) and the strange fact that in this most cliched of all horror films, the black character Rodger (Alvin Alexis) ends up to be the male survivor and sort of hero (that way, the future lies).

That's not enough to make up for all the laziness and cheese, nor for the big hair, but it is at least something.



Pauline said...

I have to say that this movie gets props in my book for its use of Bauhaus. Peter Murphy singing "Sigmata Martyr" makes the pain go away...

houseinrlyeh said...

Ah, but there's just so much pain!