E1 Entertainment // 2009 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // October 19th, 2010
Angela is having another party...thirty years later.
Night of the Demons is a remake of a 1988 cult horror hit that was mostly famous for a scene where a lipstick tube got inserted into a boob. Back then the film seemed to be tailor-made for thirteen year-old boys offering plenty of nudity and gore to spare. Fast forward twenty years later, and the remake remains true to the same spirit that boobs and blood are all you need to make the kids happy. Night of the Demons is simply out to have a good time, ditching the ravenous zombies and chaste vampires in favor of horny demons.
Angela (Shannon Elizabeth, American Pie) is having her annual Halloween party at a creepy old New Orleans mansion with a decidedly colorful past. Over eighty years ago the owner committed suicide and six people disappeared mysteriously. That doesn't bother Angela, who thinks it's the perfect setting to let loose. Unfortunately the cops bust her monster mash, and everybody flees the scene. Left behind are friends Maddie (Monica Keena, Freddy vs. Jason), Lilly (Diora Baird, Wedding Crashers), and Suzanne (Bobbi Sue Luther, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo) who have been trying to avoid their ex-boyfriends all night. Unfortunately for them the boys are stuck, too, including Colin (Edward Furlong, Terminator 2: Judgment Day), Dex (Michael Copon, One Tree Hill), and Jason (John F. Beach, the guy in that Subaru commercial). They are all about to find out that demons are trying to possess and take over the world.
The film definitely doesn't take itself seriously as it marries the aesthetics of the '80s horror slasher and with '90s teen sex comedy to come up with a strange new hybrid. They've got the homage down right to the thirty-something thespians playing teenagers and running in every direction but the way out and away from the danger. Director Adam Gierasch (Autopsy) says in the featurette that he wanted to make the film he wanted to see back when he was seventeen. It is a spirited punk rock retelling of the cheaply made original, but it doesn't feel like it loses any of the first film's intent. However; you can see a lot of differences. The setting has been changed from a mortuary to a mansion, and a ton more people show up at Angela's party. A lot of plot is added to explain the demons, including a rather neat silent film introduction which shows us the violent prologue.
Shannon Elizabeth makes a pretty good Angela, even if she's a bit long in the tooth to believe as a Goth party girl. Her best moments come when she leers at her victims, and uses her trademark sensuality for scares. Edward Furlong has certainly gained some weight, but he's fine, too, as the somehow virtuous drug dealer. Monica Keena is a horror veteran, so she's game to go even when slathered in blood. Diora and Bobbi Sue are your Playmate types who really don't get to show that much skin until the violence starts. John Beach is a lot of fun as the guy who probably smoked one too many bowls before having to fight for his life. He gets the best line of the film when he hunts down a trick or treater with no costume on.
The DVD comes with a nice behind-the-scenes featurette, as well as a commentary track. Both of these include the cast and the director, although the commentary is done without the presence of Edward Furlong or Shannon Elizabeth. No worried though, as both are entertaining enough to give you all the information you need about the making of the film. There is a rather lame bit from Comic Con, but that seems very forgivable given the quality of the rest of the supplements.
If there's a major flaw it may be in the presentation of this disc. I'm surprised that the film looks like it wasn't prepped well for DVD in the visual transfer. Sharpness goes up and down unpredictably, and black levels seem too inky at times. There's a lot of softness when the camera pulls back and goes for a wide shot. The over-the-top color scheme comes off a bit messy, and it seems like there is not enough control exerted over the image. The sound treatment fares better than the visuals. There's an accelerated punchy quality to the shock moments, and the retro goth score spills out the Concrete Blonde and Type O Negative well enough.
Night of the Demons is an okay retread that does just fine when you consider that the original didn't do much other than shock you with nudity and gore. This 2009 retooling offers more plot and a lot more gothic rock. It is a mix of horror and humor that balances out, with a cast that seems up to doing both. It doesn't hurt that Shannon Elizabeth and Edward Furlong are both along for the ride, icons of teen comedy and horror. The cast is likable enough, the gore is certainly there, and we even get a cameo or two from some of the original cast. It's a good time release with plenty of extras to satisfy any Halloween party. The only downside is that the technical presentation is not quite there.
Guilty of being a demonic sex comedy with plenty of gore.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R