Kevin S. Tenney’s Night of the Demons would be considered “Not okay” by modern social standards. It’s not because, at one point, an old man is shown carrying apples and razor blades — presumably as a Halloween treat for punk kids who will “get what they deserve.” No, it has more to do with this movie being filled with party animals. These punks (and the filmmakers) don’t really care who they offend! It’s a trend that gradually seems to be dying out, after some point in the late 1990s.
In that sense, this film acts almost as a time capsule us to pathetic, aging, creepy and nostalgic horror hounds. How bad does it get? There’s a scene where a kid named Billy (Donnie Jeffcoat Jr.) tells his own sister: “Wow! Bodacious boobies, sis!” Now, how many films would even consider something like that nowadays? Billy’s sister Judy (Cathy Podewell) doesn’t like him, but I can guarantee you that, especially back then, his comment generated some laughs from gleeful degenerates.
Similarly, even though he’s an obnoxious and stupid character, some people probably like Stooge (Hal Havins). We first see him wearing a plastic pig nose and an “anarchy” jacket, and before much of the movie’s running time elapses, he moons somebody. Pretty early on you’ll probably think, “Alright, this guy’s going to die!” Indeed, that’s a safe prediction. In fact, some watchers probably anticipate Billy’s demise as well. He is, after all, a little jerk who’s practically begging for the demon treatment.
Sometimes Tastelessness Tastes Good
In case you haven’t guessed, this movie also features a fair amount of T&A, thanks largely to Angela Franklin (Amelia Kinkade), Frannie (Jill Terashita) and Suzanne (Linnea Quigley). See, back then, people not only expected that sort of thing in horror, but it was actually respected. It was part of what elevated it as trash art. If a horror movie could offend general, normal audiences, and make them uncomfortable, it was considered a bonus.
As some of the punks become demons, their partying doesn’t end, either. The demons are more than happy to keep the excitement going, only in a special, bloodier way! One demon dances frantically to the song “Stigmata Martyr” by Bauhaus (a great song, and a great scene!). Another one puts on her makeup on strangely, suggesting both a mental break and a freewheeling evil spirit (these demons color outside the lines!). These demons aren’t boring.
One of my favorite actors in Night of the Demons, though, has got to be Alvin Alexis as Rodger. Basically, Rodger is a dude who doesn’t mess around with demons. Rather than stick around to investigate, he wants to get the hell out of there! At the same time, he is interestingly not a total coward. In other words, as silly as Night of the Demons is, it features a character who’s a little more nuanced than one might expect. It turns out you can be quite spooked yet be a little heroic, simultaneously. Who’d’ve thunk it?
In summation, Night of the Demons isn’t for everyone, which is fine. That’s sort of the point. It’s essentially a movie for people like me. I’m fully capable of watching more conventionally good films, but when I watched this for the first time a few months back, I miraculously still felt a nostalgia for it. This film’s for people who are tired of critics dissecting tropes, and the squeamish audiences pointing out everything that’s “not okay.” Newer films usually fail to capture this level of ’80s edge, even when they try. Still, I’m glad that some are trying to do it. Most just won’t do it this well.
What do you think of Night of the Demons? Let us know in the comments!