#31DaysOfHorror: Night of the Demons (1988)

51krftk3szlTen teenagers party at an abandoned funeral parlor on Halloween night. When an evil force awakens, demonic spirits keep them from leaving and turn their gathering into a living Hell.

Hoo boy! Night of the Demons is only a year older than I am, and I like to think that I’ve aged significantly better. This is exactly what I’ve been hoping for in my foray into horror from the 1980s. My experiences so for have just not quite delivered in a way that I wanted, but then there was Night of the Demons.  In watching it this, I was immediately reminded of a Halloween episode of Community, where the group tells scary stories to each other. The acting in that, and the absurd tone that Demons takes are pretty reminiscent of each other, though Demons doesn’t have the same religious overtones as Shirley’s tale.

This is one of the sleaziest films I’ve seen this month, with everything you can imagine at play here. You have a brother popping out of a closet, and telling his sister that she has “bodacious boobies”, a character bends over in front of two idiot conveniences store attendant, while her friend shoplifts snacks and alcohol, and all of the teen sex you might expect in a movie like this.

On top of the sleaze, you have some genuinely funny performances from all of the characters, who talk to each other much like an adult thinks teenagers speak, and of course use problematic language when referring to women, or throwing around the odd homophobic epithet. It’s par for the course for a movie like this, and it seems to wear these things like a badge of pride.

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Again, like witht many of the other ’80s films I’ve been watching, Demons is littered with practical effects, and delightful make-up effects that reminded me of Fright Night, but slightly less memorable. There are some great gore effects, and plenty of gross moments for you sickos.

The movie was directed by Kevin Tenney, who was responsible for the much less entertaining Witchboard, and written by Joe Augustyn who wrote the sequel, and received a credit for the remake as well. They’ve done a pretty good job, but as I mentioned they seem to have written dialogue that ill-informed grown ups who don’t interact with teens might assume they might say. One thing worth mentioning is that these two have created one of the rare films in early horror (and maddeningly in modern horror as well…) is that you have an African American character who not only isn’t killed first, but actually makes it through the movie, so I guess credit where credit is do there.

There’s still a whole lot of sleaze though, so I’m not sure if it’s a completely progressive film.

All in all though, Night of the Demons is a really fun film. It’s goofy, gory, over-the-top, and actually made me laugh a couple of times. There is a strange story that bookends the main plot about an old man who hates young people, and plans to kill them with razor blades. While it does feel like a short film that was just plugged into the beginning and end of the film for no real reason, it has a pretty gross and entertaining pay off.

If you’re looking for something goofy, then check this out. It’s not a bad way to pass 90 minutes.

MY RATING: ****

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