A healhty 90 minutes
Evil Dead Teen Horror
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Night of the Demons (1988)
26th Mar 08
Horny teens (and Linnea Quigley) get possessed during a Halloween party at a former funeral parlour. Linnea Quigley’s panties steal the show.
Although it amounts to little more than a (less bloody) Evil Dead clone complete with possessed teens and repeated running-demon p.o.v. shots crashing through doors at great speed, this is an atmospheric and well shot 80’s horror flick with good moments and fine special make up effects by Steve Johnson. Johnson subsequently married co-star Linnea Quigley, the pre-eminent 80’s scream queen, who died many times over in the decade’s horror flicks, mostly while topless and/or in the shower. Compared to the immaculately coiffeured O.C.-type hotties that dominate teen horror flicks these days, Quigley, in retrospect, seems a tad ordinary - but maybe that’s part of her appeal. For us horny handed teenage horror fan boys, Quigley was sexy but just everyday-looking enough to make us think “mmm, maybe she would shag me if she lived next door and I was the only remaining person with a penis in the whole of the barren post-apocalyptic world”.
Quigley’s presence is just one of the nostalgic pleasures awaiting those who snap up the Anchor Bay disc of this spruced-up-for-DVD flick. Everything about the movie screams “80’s horror”, which is a major point in its favour - and not just because “80’s horror” means no goofy digital morphs or embarrassing fuckin’ computer generated monsters!
You know you’re reliving your misspent youth when a flick begins with a lengthy animated title sequence backed by an electronic synth score and features “monsters” that make Freddy-esque wisecracks while persecuting their prey. The ensemble cast of mostly annoying twenty something “teenage” stereotypes includes typical 80’s victim fodder like a jokester fat guy, a virginal square, a black dude, an oddball Goth, a smart-mouthed self-styled stud, a ditzy vain bimbo and, for extra ethnic flavour, an Oriental girl. And praise be for all those gratuitous shots of bare breasts, butts and, of course, the welcoming world of Linnea Quigley’s beaver. By the time you read this, here’s hoping that my proposed new BBC reality TV show “Who Wants To Live In Linnea Quigley’s Beaver?” has finally been commissioned.
The movie opens and closes with the rantings of a cantankerous old geezer (Harold Ayer) who constantly mutters “Damn rotten kids” to our young protagonists and marks Halloween by carefully engineering the old razor-blades-in-the-apples gag. This fairly irrelevant character gets his comeuppance in the traditional last-minute shock scene, in which his wife bakes him an apple pie and the flick ends with close-ups of said razors slicing open his throat.
Living near to Mr Damn Kids is our pure-but-hot heroine (Cathy Podewell), who has a horny but unsatisfied boyfriend (we’re right with you, Lance Fenton), an annoyingly intrusive little bro (“Wow, bodacious boobies, sis!”) and a mom who bakes what are described as “sun dried poodle turds”. Angela (Mimi Kinkade) is the class weirdo and has organised a Halloween party at Hull House, the former funeral parlour ran by an old necrophiliac that, years earlier, was home to (you guessed it) a Halloween night massacre. An ill-advised “mirror séance” results in most of the teens turning into vicious, ugly demons with bad teeth. Subsequently, Kinkade does a sexy dance, Fenton has his eyes gouged out during sex with Quigley (seems like an acceptable price to pay), fat idiot Hal Havins has his tongue bitten off, the Oriental chick gets her neck broken after some coffin shagging and severed limbs attack characters in the Evil Dead tradition.
Kevin S Tenney, who also directed Quigley in Witchtrap (worth a look on a slow night) and Witchboard (worth a look on any night), displayed genuine filmmaking talent within his modest cycle of derivative low budget horror films. Here he evokes a suitably creepy ambience within the story’s one major setting, while stylishly employing dolly zooms, odd angles and the occasional impressive individual shot : notably a lengthy dialogue scene in which the characters are all reflected via the numerous scattered fragments of a broken mirror. Unlike a lot of directors making this kind of movie in the arse-end of the 80’s, this guy had talent.
The characters are, on the whole, as one-note as most of their contemporaries in the period’s genre flicks, but Quigley manages to be memorable as an airhead victim introduced via a close-up of her bottom in pink panties, bending over in a pink dress during a convenience store shoplifting scam. Quigley, although no great actress and not fooling anyone that she’s a teenager, was always fun to watch regardless of the quality of the movie, and here she participates in the most surreal effects moment : inserting a whole lipstick into her nipple. Talk about a party piece!
Sequelised by the groovy Night of the Demons 2 and the weak Demon House - taking Angela as the franchise lynchpin - Night of the Demons was also effectively reworked by Mike Mendez for the splendid The Convent a decade later. Tenney’s film looks good, has diverting gore and surprises late in the day by not only making the (usually disposable) black guy (Alvin Alexis) the hero but by also making him as climactically scared and feeble as the heroine. If you grew up thinking Susannah Hoffs was sexy and once memorised the entire opening voiceover of The A-Team, consider this an essential DVD purchase.
Versions Stick to the region 1 widescreen release. The UK DVD has 4 seconds of cuts (tch!) and is full screen.