Night of the Demons (1988)

I might have been too harsh on Saw, but it can take it, and this is the eighteenth film of my #31DaysofHorror. I’m in a dip. To lift my spirits, I wanted a palate cleanser, but rather than go uptown, I went as far downtown as I could go, to the eighties trashy delights of Night of the Demons.

Angela and Suzanne throw a party on Halloween night at an abandoned mortuary on the outskirts of town. A disparate group of misfits arrive, and to frighten everyone, Angela has them play a seance-like party game which summons a demon through the furnace in the mortuary’s basement. The gate they drove in through turns into a wall sealing them in, so when the demon possesses Suzanne, it spreads an infection through the party-goers, and for the remaining few it becomes a fight to survive the night.

The first half is a slog—a cheesy, unfunny, teenage sex comedy. However, the second half saves the day, with some brilliant gore, jump scares, and plenty of imaginative set pieces. There’s a definite influence from Evil Dead 2, with the demon’s eye camera moving through the house, and the demon women making wisecracks. Angela dancing possessed in front of the fire, the film cutting creepily as she moves, is a definite highlight, as are all the special effects. I’m still thinking about the scene where Suzanne pushes a stick of lipstick into her nipple. Judy, who is there with the awful Jay, is dressed like Alice in Wonderland, an apt, fun touch, and the look of the demon itself references the demon at the end of Jacques Tourneur’s classic Night of the Demon. A decent Halloween choice.