DIEmonds in the Rough: Night of the Demons (1988)
It’s Horror House month here at the Midnight Society, so I just had to do a DIEmonds in the Rough on one of my favorite ’80s horror flicks–Night of the Demons. Not only is it a b-horror classic, it’s a nice twist on the usual haunted house movie.
Because as Angela states when things start to go wrong: “This house is not haunted…it’s possessed.”
In Night of the Demons, a group of kids decide to have a Halloween partry at Hull House, an abandoned mortuary. When party organizer Angela convinces the group to conduct a seance, they summon forth demonic spirits that begin to possess and kill the partygoers one by one.
Trapped in Hull House, the group’s only hope is to make it until dawn when the demons return from whence they came.
As with most b-horror movies, the acting in Night of the Demons is pretty awful overall. From Judy’s d-bag of a kid brother, to the other cardboard cutout archetypes (nerd girl, outsider, jock, cool kid, prep), there’s not a lot of well-rounded characters to latch onto. Add to that the fact that you have actors in their late 20s or older playing high-schoolers, and the believability factor is low (scream queen Linnea Quigley was 30 when this movie was made). Luckily, everyone magically becomes a better actor once they’re possessed, which leads me to believe this movie actually took place in an abandoned theatre rather than a mortuary.
The pacing in Night of the Demons isn’t great either, as we spend close to an hour building up the tension before all hell breaks loose. Lots of shots of the group splitting up and walking through empty rooms, with occasional stops to make out.
But the wait is worth it.
There’s actually several DIEmonds in this movie, which is probably why it’s considered to be a cult classic, and definitely a favorite of mine.
Another DIEmond is the clear nod to the Evil Dead franchise. There is some Raimi-esque camera work, and the whole take on the demons is very reminiscent of what we saw with Evil Dead, without being just a carbon copy. In some ways though, this could be a distant cousin of that series.
And despite the fact that the movie doesn’t take itself very seriously, there are some genuinely scary and disturbing moments. Linnea Quigley shines in a couple of them, and one of them is a lipstick scene that will stay with you forever after you see it.
There’s also plenty of gore once the killing starts, if that’s what you’re coming to this party for, including a nasty little epilogue that will have you laying off apple pie for the rest of your life.
All in all, Night of the Demons is a b-horror classic, that should be on your annual Halloween playlist. If you’ve never seen it, you’re in for a treat. And the 1994 sequel wasn’t too shabby either.