Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Starring Edward Furlong, Shannon Elizabeth, Monica Keena, Tiffany Shepis
Directed by Adam Gierasch
Remakes. You love ‘em, I love ‘em – we all love ‘em…oh, wait.
Despite the frothing-at-the-mouth hatred for all things remake amongst genre fans, we must admit that there are good, bad and even the inoffensively mediocre. For example Rob Zombie’s atrocious Halloween (and, from what I hear, Halloween II as well) versus the likes of The Last House on the Left (nowhere near as sacrilegious as expected – in fact, it improved on the original in a number of ways). Now, Adam Gierasch is the latest director to join the remake stables with his sophomore effort Night of the Demons, based on the original 1988 Kevin Tenney flick.
We again follow a group of party-going friends facing a night on the chopping block as they attempt to defend themselves against an onslaught of body-possessing demons. Said friends are comprised here of Maddie (Monica Keena), Suzanne (Bobbi Sue Luther), the slutty Lily (Diora Baird), Jason (John F. Beach) and Dex (Michael Copon). They are all invited to the infamous Broussard Mansion (changed here from the Hull House of the original) by their friend Angela (Shannon Elizabeth), but things don’t go according to plan as the party is stopped by the police. It seems Angela didn’t purchase the necessary permit, so they’re being shut down.
With everyone else dispatched from the premises, our core group, along with local drug dealer Colin (Edward Furlong), find themselves left behind with the outside gates locked. Forced to look for another exit, the group discover a secret room in the basement of the building housing six skeletal corpses – the missing people that form part of the legend of the Broussard Mansion. Upon attempting to remove a gold tooth from one of them, Angela gets bitten and soon enough is transformed into a snarling demon. It seems that these entities need to possess seven bodies before daybreak – if they succeed, they are made permanent flesh and can spread their wicked influence across the world. All it takes to possess an individual is to either kill them or bite them.
Right from the credit sequence, you can tell that Gierasch’s intention here is a rock ‘n roll horror flick that doesn’t take itself in any way seriously, and in some ways he has succeeded. The director himself proclaimed that he wanted to make the movie he would have wanted to see as a teenager – big-breasted women running away from gore-throwing demons; and that, friends, is pretty much what we have here. Almost every character is one-dimensional, but the ample charms of Monica Keena and the deliciously well-endowed Bobbi Sue Luther, to name only two, go a long way to alleviating any focus on unnecessary elements such as character development. It’s an exercise in immaturity, but taken on that level it works. The cast are all in on it, flaunting their *ahem* physical talents as far as possible, and the script also occasionally pokes fun at how ridiculous it all is (for example a brief discussion as to why the demons have an aversion to rust). Even the increasingly bug-eyed Edward Furlong puts in more effort than he has done in his recent career instead of sleep-walking his way to a paycheck yet again.
Once the demonic action starts, Night of the Demons rarely slows down with Gierasch keeping a close eye on pacing; however, the later stages do start to get a little grating as the characters find a “safe room” and keep yo-yoing back and forth to it. The soundtrack is great, featuring tons of extremely loud punk rock and inspired use of Type O Negative’s “Black No. 1” during Angela’s first big monstrous reveal.
Ample gore and slime can be found all over the place, bolstered by some effective jump scares, but the demons themselves get progressively disappointing as the ending approaches. The first couple of transformations are great (including possession via anal sex and a crowd-pleasing face-and-tit rip), but the final couple of demons look like not much more than rubber Halloween masks with a little bit more articulation than one from a bog-standard costume store. When the monsters are the focus of your movie, it isn’t a particularly good idea to stop making them noticeably unique and detailed beyond the first few. Fans of the original will be happy to know that Gierasch does keep the “lipstick in the breast” gag from the original – in fact, he ramps it up into further levels of sickness.
The locations and sets look fabulous, making this a strong contender for your Halloween party movie pile. Gierasch also throws in a few nice directorial touches such as presenting flashbacks as a sepia-toned silent movie. It’s nowhere near the technical magnificence of fellow Halloweener Trick ‘r Treat but a noticeable increase in confidence beyond his debut, Autopsy.
So there you have it. This isn’t a smart movie by any means – it’s a modern throwback to a simpler era of horror where boobs and blood were the main attraction. It’s brash, loud and sexy, but a few too obvious flaws unfortunately knock the film down a peg. In the end it’s still a fun ride and certainly worth a watch on an evening when you’d rather disengage the brain and sink a few drinks than deal with anything more cerebral.
3 1/2 out of 5
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