Halloween Horror Marathon: Night of the Demons

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Because Kevin Tenney‘s Night of the Demons score just received a luscious vinyl reissue from Lunaris Records, we figure it was worth bumping Witchboard for another Tenney film, but with more gore and nudity. We figured you all’d be okay with that.

Goddamn, Night of the Demons is a stupid movie. It’s delightfully fun, of course, but good lord, the acting is atrocious. The introduction of the characters is a painful exercise in looped dialogue and wooden intonation. Add in the fact that most background information is basically provided via Max’s expositional speeches, and this is a movie that’s essentially just trying to get to the good stuff. And yet, at that, it absolutely fails. It takes a solid 50 minutes before there’s anything aside from a glimpse of a demon. That’s a long wait for somebody to die, especially when this many people deserve it.

What’s the appeal here, aside from a brief shot of a couple female characters’ underwear? Creepy goth girls getting possessed by demons and dancing to Bauhaus? I think that may be a big part of Night of the Demons‘ lengthy appeal, along with the ever-adorable Linnea Quigley, who always seems to be a manic pixie, even when turning into a murderous little nightmare.
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Granted, once the killing starts, it’s really worth the wait. Shit gets supremely weird rather quickly, be it the disappearing lipstick, Angela warming her hands by the fire, or “STOP LOOKING AT ME!” For realsies: Night of the Demons‘ first half is a cringe-worthy slog, but the latter is a gloriously violent and disturbingly twisted ride worth sticking around for.

Those violent deaths are something that ties into an issue which keeps popping up as I watch movies of this vintage: dudes who are supposed to be “slobs” now seem to be more “abusive jerk.” Stooge needed to die first. He not only repeatedly verbally abuses Helen, but threatens to smack her? For real, that’s like eight different kinds of bullshit. Same goes for Jay’s behavior toward Judy, which is also supremely shitty. On a positive note, the really awful people get the worst deaths, so it’s pretty rewarding when they finally snuff it.

Another question: Is there a reason all the jokes in ’80s horror seem to be written by borscht belt comics circa 1955? It’s the most hackneyed collection of one-liners outside of a Henny Youngman set. Were it not for the fact that Night of the Demons balances out the wooden acting, bad jokes, and slow build with an excellent second half, I wouldn’t have bothered to revisit this nearly 30 year-old piece of crudeness.

Like we said in the intro, Lunaris Records recently reissued the album on vinyl. It’s a double LP, cassette, and CD, depending on your preference, and all of those formats — along with a dope art print and / or t-shirt of the Devin Whitehead art — can be snagged from the Lunaris Records store. It’s also available as a fantastic DVD / Blu-ray combo pack from Scream Factory.