Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Night Of The Demons (1988)

The 80's is largely considered the decade in which horror decided to have fun. Sometimes, there were some definite brains behind it all ("Evil Dead II", "Night of the Creeps" and "Return of the Living Dead" for example) and then there were those movies that were mindless but had a definite low rent charm and were perfect for a night with beer and friends. Movies like "Pieces" and "Blood Diner" stacked rental shelves in the 80's and 90's, offering little in intelligence or craftsmanship but plenty in dumb entertainment. Kevin Tenney's 1988 movie "Night of the Demons" is a part of this tradition-stupid, poorly acted and not an original bone in it's body, but dammit if you don't have a good time.

The plot is so simplistic it just had to come from the 80's: a group of dumb teens played by a bunch of actors in their mid to late 20's decide to go to a party at Hull House thrown by Angela (Mimi Kinkade) and Suzanne (Scream Queen legend Linnea Quigley.) Well, Angela and co. decide to throw a séance. This turns out to be as Will Arnett's "Arrested Development" character Gob would call it, a "Huge Mistake," because a demonic force soon possesses Angela, and starts to get to the others as well.

Take "The Evil Dead", "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and your average dumb dead teen flick, throw them in a blender, and "Night of the Demons" is what you get. The movie is anything but original, and really, it's not a good movie. The whole thing is insanely derivative, the acting is terrible, the jokes often fall flat, the characters are annoying (especially the character of Stooge) and the plot holes are numerous. That out of the way, it's still a lot of fun. So why?

Well for one thing, the make up and gore effects are top notch, with some really memorable moments (especially a nasty and just plane odd bit with a tube of lipstick) that really stick out. It also rarely if ever takes itself too seriously, yet with the exception of some terrible puns, plays it straight and never wastes the audiences time with winking self awareness. Plus, there's a definite energy and enthusiasm to the whole enterprise that's almost impossible to resist. Yeah, it's nothing special, but it knows that, and it couldn't be more proud of that fact. It's a goofy party horror movie, and it never pretends to be anything more.

It might not be a classic, but "Night of the Demons" is a good example of horror junk food done right. It might not be too memorable or original, but sometimes you don't want a fancy beer. Sometimes you want a Budweiser.

Rating: 7/10

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