Saturday, July 1, 2023

#2,916. Night of the Demons (1988) - Linnea Quigley Triple Feature


When it comes to horror films set during the Halloween season, a number of great titles leap immediately to mind. There’s John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece Halloween and its plethora of sequels and remakes (yes, even Halloween III: Season of the Witch). And in 1981, we were treated to both Hell Night and the exceptional TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow.

The new millennium has kept the seasonal ball rolling with Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, Trick ‘r’ Treat from 2007, and, more recently, The Houses October Built and Hell House LLC.

Another title that deserves its place of honor among the October elite is director Kevin Tenney’s 1988 classic Night of the Demons. A low-budget horror film (it reportedly cost $1.2 million to produce), Night of the Demons is an amazingly entertaining fright flick, and with its awesome make-up effects and some truly memorable scenes, it’s no mystery why the film has achieved cult status.

It’s Halloween night, and teen recluse Angela (Amelia Kinkade), with the help of her promiscuous friend Suzanne (Linnea Quigley), is throwing a party for a few of her classmates. The venue is Hull House, an abandoned mortuary in the middle of nowhere that, according to legend, has a rather ominous history.

Among those attending Angela’s party are Judy (Cathy Podewell) and her new boyfriend Jay (Lance Fenton); their friends Max (Philip Tanzini) and Frannie (Jill Terashita); and Helen (Allison Barron), Rodger (Alvin Alexis), and the obnoxious Stooge (Hal Havins). Rounding out the attendees is Judy’s former boyfriend Sal (Billy Gallo), who crashes the festivities.

Along with the music, food, and booze, Angela thinks it would be a hoot if they held a séance to contact the spirits that supposedly roam the grounds of Hull House. But instead of conjuring up a few innocent ghosts, she and the others awaken an evil force that, before the night is out, will possess more than one of the revelers, and slaughter a few others.

Written by Joe Augustyn, Night of the Demons is an absolute blast, a fright flick that moves along at a brisk pace (especially once the demons make their presence known) and features a number of awesome jump scares. Tenney and his crew make the most of their limited funds; Hull House, with its dark rooms, decaying hallways, and the odd abandoned coffin, is one creepy locale, and the creature effects are outstanding (especially the possessed teens, whose yellow eyes and sharp teeth are the stuff of nightmares).

As for the performances, most range from decent to mediocre, with Amelia Kinkade stealing the show as Angela, who at one point even wows us with her dance moves (my favorite scene in the movie).

So, while 1978’s Halloween may be the granddaddy of them all, Night of the Demons should also be required viewing for horror fans once October rolls around.
Rating: 9 out of 10

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