Night of the Demons is a treasure. Specifically, buried treasure--it’s another entry in the long line of ’80s horror movies about teens getting their comeuppance when they take the party to a haunted locale, but all the elements that would normally come into question for critical analysis are just dressing with this movie. The real attraction is its unabashed Halloween spirit, a holiday gusto that surges out of the screen from the opening credits: an animated sequence like something out of Scooby-Doo without the Mystery Gang. The cast are Cabin in the Woods archetypes all, their unique traits and differences are mapped out in no uncertain terms. They’re preparing for a night at Hull House, an abandoned and supposedly haunted mortuary that was the site of a grisly murder-suicide, and….
We know this drill. The movie really get started when an invisible spirit zooms, Evil Dead-POV style, out of the basement furnace and up the stairs, hauling us from one Halloween-drenched sequence to the next, dropping one-liners left and right--“Eat a bowl of fuck!” being only one of the movie’s many choice selections of dialogue--and images you couldn’t erase with a brand. There’s ’80s horror legend Linnea Quigley bending down to grab some dropped candy; a strobe-light dance sequence with legendary Goth-chick-turned-flesh-craving-demon Angela, whose visage adorns the movie’s famous original poster art; and, of course, the disappearing lipstick. You’ll know it when you see it. There’s also a perfectly macabre little subplot involving an old couple and their mismatched outlooks on Halloween, culminating in a sharp satire of a certain holiday myth.
Night of the Demons is a blast. You can smell the rotting pumpkin guts and taste the chocolate smeared across the script, and for once, its sequel is equally inspired despite a new director and slightly different writers--so feel free to extend your stay at Hull House a little while more, if so inclined. “Happy Halloween, dear!”
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