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Night of the Demons (1988) Blu-Ray Review

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Stars: William Gallo, Amelia Kinkade, Cathy Podewell, Jill Terashita, Linnea Quigley
Director: Kevin S. Tenney

Released by Scream Factory

Reviewed by Steven Ruskin

If you were walking down the aisle at your local video rental store and were attracted to the lurid cover of this late eighties horror flick you may have brought it home. If you were at just that right age you may have fallen under the spell of this story of high school kids who planned a Halloween party at the old Hull House, the scene of grisly murders. If you identified with the party hearty guy with the pig’s nose mask, or the mini Fonzie-type character or anyone of the wild chicks who came along, let the party begin. Maybe you liked that more cautious wholesome girl who dresses like Alice in Wonderland. If the excessive, pushing it to the limit gore, the demons’ make-up and the jump scare scenes made this the perfect fright and laugh fest for a Saturday night rental, then you are home again. Much of the appeal of this film may rest with it being able to tap into that nostalgic feeling. Others who can not bring those memories to this may find it significantly lacking.

No matter which camp you fall into the acting is uniformly below par. The script and storyline are nothing terribly creative. In one of the extras the director, Kevin Tenney states that he liked the fact that the main character was dressed as Alice from Alice in Wonderland. That way if things did not make sense it was fine since it was in keeping with the whole nonsensical Wonderland experience. That doesn’t quite work. For better or worse you’ve got a bunch of teenagers trapped inside a haunted house, and on the property since there is a high wall surrounding them. One by one they are either transformed into demons or killed off. Granted some of the kills are pretty wild and played for over the top entertainment. We’re told that this is the unrated version that has the full punch of some scenes that were trimmed to get the initial “R” rating. There is lots of loud heavy party music on the soundtrack to accompany the splatter fest. Night of the Demons has plenty of practical effects and a game cast to show you a good time.  Unfortunately the proceedings are rather uninspired for this  slasher, haunted house of demons and teens in trouble flick to rise above the formula. It does have a very eighties feel to it though.

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For me the best part was the opening credits. They are animated by a team that includes Kathy Zielinski who worked on many of the later day Disney animated features. There is a real affection for the genre in the titles. Every member of the cast and production team gets a lovingly horrid treatment of their name. Films like Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) had memorable animated title sequences. It sets us up for a fun horror film and a great time. Unfortunately the film that follows does not live up to that. Still for those that picked up the VHS box back in the day and have fond memories of the experience they will have a great time with this.

Video – 1.85:1
Details are very strong in this transfer as far as the original materials will allow. Colors are vibrant. There is a lack of grain that will bother purists but by and large this is a strong presentation. Blood splatters and gore effects are on full lurid display.

 
Audio – DTS 5.1 and 2.0 in English. Subtitles are offered in English SDH.
Dialogue is clear. There is an almost constant use of a voice modulator for the demon voices. The music tracks are mixed on the loud side, which suits the film fine.

Extras –
This edition comes with a DVD that is as equally well done as the Blu-Ray.
New commentary with Director Kevin Tenney and actors Cathy Podewell, Hal Havins, Billy Gallo and FX artist Steve Johnson. New interviews with cast and crews including director Kevin Tenney, writer/producer Joe Augustyn and actress Linnea Quigley.  Audio Commentary With Director Kevin Tenney, Executive Producer Walter Josten and Producer Jeff Geoffray. Promo Reels, Trailers, TV and Radio Spots; Still Galleries.

 
On a scale of Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, Classic

Blu-Ray – Good / Excellent

Movies – Fair

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