John Ary here with another installment of Ain’t It Scary Reviews. Today we join a group of high school kids on Halloween night as they learn about the dangers of partying at a haunted funeral parlor on the outskirts of town.
There’s something reassuring about teen horror movies from the 80’s. Most of them uphold the conventions of their genre. You know the virginal heroine is probably going to make it out okay. There’s usually at least one sex scene and whoever is involved in it will surely die a miserable death. Chances are the whole thing is scored by a Casio keyboard and a “boombox” or a “ghetto blaster” will show up at some point to play a rockin’ jam while white kids awkwardly dance. There are rules to this particular genre. Night of the Demons follows these rules to the letter, making for a familiar but fun popcorn movie.
It’s Halloween night and your familiar high school character archetypes decide to party at the abandoned funeral home. There is the chaste sugary sweet girl, the preppy boyfriend, the tough yet misunderstood slimeball, the fat party animal who can’t get enough to drink, the slut, the goth, the black guy... you get the idea. When these kids... kids? All of them look like they are like in their late 20’s! When these “characters” converge on the abandoned funeral home, they unknowingly unleash a dangerous spirit. A ghostly creature infects each person, one by one, turning them into supernatural blood-thirsty maniacs. The night turns into a frantic fight for survival as they are haunted and stalked by the bodies of their former friends.
I would call this movie routine, but that does it an injustice. It delivers on all the promises a fan of these sorts of films can expect. Are there gory deaths? Check. How about shots of boobies for no real reason? Check. People getting chased through a haunted house by demons? Check. Terrible generic dialogue? Check. Stunt people set on fire? Check. Some cheap startle scares? Check and double-check. What makes Night of the Demons work is its adherence to these principles and it does each with with an above average horror acumen. You get exactly what you pay for. Sure, the main character’s screams get annoying by the end of the picture, and there really is no reason for characters so different, so alienated from each other to hang out together on Halloween... but who cares? This isn’t Scorcesse. This is a low-budget screamfest from the director of Pinocchio’s Revenge and Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway. Whether it’s over-delivering on its promise of cheap thrills or underselling itself on the VHS cover, Night of Demons is a solid addition to the teenage horror genre of the late 80’s.
Night of the Demons is currently streaming on Hulu. It’s also available on DVD here.
Check back in tomorrow for another Ain’t It Scary Review as John Barrymore reveals his dark side to horror fans of silent cinema.
Special thanks to Talkbacker Manaqua for his suggestion of linking to the past horror reviews in the series. Here they are:
The Ground Rules to the Project
#1 Son of Frankenstein
#2 Scream, Blacula, Scream!
#3 Black Sabbath
#5 Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
#6 Invisible Invaders
#7 The Mummy’s Curse
#8 Lord of Illusions