Welcome to Psycho Drive-In’s 31 Days of Schlocktober celebration! This year we’ve decided to present the ABCs of Horror, with entries every day this month providing Director information, Best-of lists, Genre overviews, and Reviews of films and franchises, all in alphabetical order! Today brings us N is for Night of the Demons! 1980s American horror cinema was a very fertile place, and from the moment Michael Myers started stalking babysitters and Jason Voorhees (and his mom) started chopping up camp counselors, the floodgates opened for nearly every single variation of the teens in danger scenario. However, by 1988 the gamut had been run and the slasher genre was beginning to fade. Friday the 13th kept on keeping on and new Nightmare on Elm Streets were still annual events, and most every holiday had been used up figuring out how to tie a vicious murderer to some holiday scenario. One bright and fairly innovative spot in the landscape was 1986’s Witchboard, written and directed by Kevin S. Tenney, which took a more character-driven approach to telling a tale of the supernatural. Before Witchboard had even been released, Tenney was working on his follow-up film, Night of the Demons. Night of the Demons isn’t high-brow. It’s all about naked ladies, gore, and scares. As far as exploitation horror films go, it’s practically the Platonic Ideal. But here’s the thing. It’s a very well-made film. Sure, the actors are young unknowns for the most part, and could be better. The script has some clunky dialogue. But none of that matters. Despite their lacks of experience, the performers are all charismatic and even the most obnoxious characters are likeable in one way or another. And that’s entirely down to the performances. Plus, they’ve got Scream Queen Linnea Quigley in there, and that’s always a good thing. By the time she was cast in Night of the Demons, she’d already made a name for herself in the horror community with memorable roles in Silent Night, Deadly Night, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, and most notably, Return of the Living Dead. Night of the Demons gave her what was arguably her biggest role to that point. She was still the sexy girl who got naked, but she was also a damn-scary demon who taunted and tormented her victims before murdering them in horribly brutal ways. That brutality is another thing that stands out about this film. Special effects master Steve Johnson (who dated and was married to Quigley for a while after Night of the Demons wrapped) made a splash with his work on this film. He’d been around for a few years already, but Night of the Demons was one of the first jobs he took on after setting up his own effects studio, and he went at this film like he had something to prove. From the ever-changing, ever-evolving demon make-ups, to burn victims, to gouged eyes and the infamous lipstick-into-the-boob gag, Johnson knocked this one out of the park. And the script takes no prisoners either. We have tongues being bitten off, the aforementioned gouged eyes and burns, and our final survivors — your traditional final girl (Cathy Podewell) and the surprising, usually-first-to-go black dude (Alvin Alexis) — have to escape at the last minute by climbing a string of barbed wire to get over the wall surrounding the possessed funeral parlor where their ill-fated Halloween party took place. But even without all that, Night of the Demons would always have a place in my heart solely due to the dance scene to Bauhaus’ “Stigmata Martyr.” In 1988 (or ’89 or whenever I first saw this film on video), I was very much into Bauhaus — and punk/goth girls, to be honest — and that scene was like crack cocaine for me. There was no way I couldn’t love this movie after seeing this: You just took a peek inside my 19-year old mind. Please wash your hands before going back to work. Night of the Demons was filmed in a gang-infested neighborhood in South Central LA on a shooting schedule of almost entirely night shoots in a real abandoned building that had to be completely cleaned out and redressed before shooting could even begin (according to the director’s commentary, the place was infested with stray cats and the ammonia-stink of cat piss was overwhelming before the cleaning crew saved the day). Against all odds, this is a beautiful film to look at. Every scene is staged perfectly; every set dressed with meticulous detail. The lighting is a wonder, and Tenney took the talky opening half-hour-to-forty-five minutes to craft some very impressive shots. He did everything in his power to make what could have been a boring opening something that is always moving and easy on the eyes. If you’re planning a Halloween-themed horror movie marathon, Night of the Demons should definitely be on your schedule. The two sequels and the 2009 remake, on the other hand, can probably be avoided. See larger image Night Of The Demons (Collector’s Edition) [BluRay/DVD Combo] [Blu-ray] New From: $19.80 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 2 Responses ABCs of Horror 2016 Day 6: C is for Barbara Crampton - Psycho Drive-In October 6, 2016 […] of low-budget exploitation/horror films all through the ’80s and ’90s (most notably in Night of the Demons and Return of the Living Dead), but it was Crampton who starred in the films that hit me right in […] Log in to Reply Women in Horror: Barbara Crampton - Psycho Drive-In February 3, 2017 […] series of low-budget exploitation/horror films all through the ’80s and ’90s (most notably in Night of the Demons and Return of the Living Dead), but it was Crampton who starred in the films that hit me right in […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.