|Night of the Demons (1988)
|Kevin S. Tenney
|Cathy Podewell, William Gallo, Alvin Alexis, Amelia Kinkade, Linnea Quigley, Lance Fenton, Hal Havins, Jill Terashita, Philip Tanzini and Harold Ayer
“Where are you going? The party’s just begun” – Angela
|Night of the Demons 2 (1994)
|Joe Augustyn and James Penzi
|Cristi Harris, Robert Jayne, Merle Kennedy, Jennifer Rhodes, Amelia Kinkade, Rod McCary, Johnny Moran, Zoe Trilling, Rick Peters and Mark Neely
“Leave a little room for the Holy Ghost!” – Sister Gloria
Night of the Demons
A nasty demon is awakened at Hull House, an abandoned mortuary, where a group of teenagers are partying on Halloween night. The demon possesses two of them; party hostess Angela (Kinkade) and her friend Suzanne (Quigley) and soon bloody carnage ensues as the pair kills, and then possesses, the rest of the group.
Some movies stake a permanent claim in the memory banks thanks to some vivid imagery or a feeling they generated when first watched. That’s my experience with “Night of the Demons” as I first saw it as a teenager and some images stayed with me for years as well as an uncomfortable memory of feeling scared. Upon revisiting the movie years later it didn’t live up to the memory (how could it?) and I was struck by how badly acted it was. But I persisted and watched again and again and can now, thankfully, enjoy the movie and still reclaim a portion of the impact it had on me as a teen.
There are a number of tremendously atmospheric and scary scenes but they are interspersed with some very clumsy set-ups and cringe inducing dialogue ham fistedly delivered by a few of the actors here. But the good far outweighs the bad as some choice scenes really are well staged by director Tenney and serve up the chills. A very effective scene has hostess Angela dancing to the rock tune “Stigmata Martyr” while slowly becoming possessed and it’s a very visually arresting transition as the film enters it’s point of no return for it’s doomed characters.
80’s horror icon Quigley has a few hair raising scenes as her demon counterpart takes over and some grisly gore scenes stand out as she raises hell. Kinkade and Quigley easily take top honors in the acting department and the look of their demons is simply awesome as the make-up department truly delivers some nightmare inducing imagery.
The film does take it’s sweet time to kick into gear but once it does it doesn’t let up. Director Tenney maintains the mood effectively and keeps momentum going until the end. There’s quite a lot to admire in “Night of the Demons” and that’s the reason it remains a cult favourite.
Night of the Demons 2
A few years have passed since that fateful night at Hull House. This time around we’re introduced to a few students at St. Rita’s Academy, a Catholic boarding school for troubled teenagers. One of them is Melissa, nicknamed “Mouse” (Kennedy), who’s having some very disturbing nightmares concerning her missing sister Angela (Kinkade). As the students are preparing for a celebration a few of them decide to visit Hull House and coax Mouse into joining them. This new group of teens catch Angela’s attention and some more demon mayhem is unleashed.
There’s a bit more story here and characters are better realized. There’s Perry (Jayne), a nerdish student who’s fascinated with the occult and is certain that Angela’s demon is roaming around. Sister Gloria (Rhodes) is a strict Head nun at the academy and she takes more than a passing interest in disciplining her students. Bibi (Harris) is the leading heroine of the piece and she gets to assert a bit of character and finally there’s Mouse who has to face up to the fact that her sister is not simply lost or deceased but a nasty demon who preys on her and wants to damn her soul.
“Night of the Demons 2” bests it’s predecessor when it comes to acting. Rhodes is fantastic as Sister Gloria and manages to make her character colorful and fun without going overboard into absurdity. Jayne makes the most out of his character and is deadly serious in the part and Kennedy has some good moments as Mouse. Kinkade is, again, fantastic as Angela though her screen time is significantly reduced this time around. Also very good are McCary as the Head Priest at the Academy and Trilling as the typical bad girl in the bunch who, more or less, sets things in motion. Good acting always helps.
Journeyman director Trenchard-Smith isn’t as adapt at set-pieces or sustaining a creepy mood as Tenney but there are so many whacky moments in the film that simply work like a charm. There’s a lot more intentional humor here but enough memorable imagery and bloody carnage to ensure the film comes out a winner. It’s also refreshingly unpredictable (and nasty) as to who might just get slashed and who will survive. There’s simply an overall good vibe that sustains “Night of the Demons 2” through some rough patches and the humor works well. It isn’t as stylish as the first one, it doesn’t top the first film’s scariest moments and can’t top the creepy atmosphere but it is more consistent in it’s tone and flow and much better acted.
On the whole I do prefer the original to the sequel but usually nowadays I just watch them back to back. Have yet to view the third installment and here’s hoping it might get a decent physical release soon.