Tell me if this sounds familiar. A group of teenagers break into a spooky old house on Halloween night to throw a party—and things go horribly wrong. Yes, that’s right, it’s possibly the oldest (horror) story in the book. And it’s also the plot of Night of the Demons, Kevin S. Tenney’s classic 1988 horror movie.
It’s Halloween night, and high school oddball Angela (Mimi Kinkade) and Suzanne (Linnea Quigley), her slutty best friend, are throwing a party at Hull House, an abandoned mortuary. Now, this isn’t just any abandoned mortuary; this abandoned mortuary has a history. It was built on haunted ground and has been the scene of terrible, gruesome events. Angela has invited the usual cast of stereotypes. There’s the good girl, the big man on campus, the insufferable fat kid, the dumb “New Yawk” tough and the token black guy, among others. After they break in and set the atmosphere with some candles and decorations, they decide to have a séance, during which demons possess one, then two, then several of them. It’s not long before kids are dropping like flies, in assorted gruesome ways.
I know this sounds like something you’ve already seen a hundred times. But consider this: It’s been said that a movie should not be judged by what it’s about, but how it’s about it—and this flick is an excellent example of that. Night of the Demons manages to transcend its plot, mostly through Kevin Tenney’s solid direction. This man definitely knows what he’s doing. Here, he continually moves the camera in virtuosic ways, always swooping or diving or twisting or turning. And somehow, he stops just short of being obnoxious. What’s more, he keeps things moving along at a brisk pace, which is always a good thing.
This being an ‘80s horror flick, there is a musical score full of generic pop metal, a decent dose of gratuitous female nudity and plenty of hammy performances. There’s also some pretty good gore and make-up effects. Of course, one of the highpoints is scream queen Linnea Quigley. Always a welcome presence, Quigley gets to have a lot of fun in this film, which means we do too. She has one scene involving a tube of lipstick that, well, you just have to see.
A couple of classic set pieces really liven things up. The séance scene has some cool photographic effects involving broken shards of a mirror, and there’s an effective scene where Kinkade gets to show off her modern dance skills. Some wicked cool deaths keep things hopping as well. There’s death during coffin sex, death with eyes gouged out, and hands set on fire and tongues bitten off…you get the idea. And, yes, there’s a Final Girl, but there’s another survivor who you might not usually expect to make it.
So, even though you might think you’ve seen movies like Night of the Demons, you haven’t. This is a campy, fun horror flick that would be perfect to watch on Halloween night. Gather up your friends, drink some beer, pop some popcorn, throw on this DVD and have a few laughs. But you would do well to avoid any séances. And, please, stay away from the lipstick.