Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Night of the Demons (2009)

Directed by:
Adam Gierasch

Kevin Tenney's original NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988) was a superb slice of 80s horror cheese that ended up becoming a surprise hit. It scored big on a limited theatrical release and did even better on home video, where it was released in both R and unrated (gorier) versions. Two sequels followed in 1994 and 1996. That by itself was enough to ensure Demons ended up on the short list of "Films That Need To Be Remade," which is also known as "Films That Are Reasonably Well-Known That We May Be Able To Make Some Money Off Of." So here we go again, folks. Equipped with a rather healthy 10 million dollar budget and several "names" in the cast that haven't been bankable in about in ten or so years, this remake ended up failing to secure a wide theatrical release and was quickly and quietly ushered out to DVD. After seeing it, it's easy to see why it didn't fair so well: it's just not that fun. In the pre-credits sequence (cleverly designed like a silent movie), a woman commits suicide by leaping off a banister with a noose around her neck (which ends up decapitating her) and her husband quickly flashes some demonic yellow eyes. 85 years later on Halloween night, Goth slut Angela Feld (Shannon Elizabeth) decides to make a little money by throwing a Halloween bash in the same long-abandoned house, The Broussard Mansion, and charging a ten dollar door fee for an all-you-can-drink all-night party.

We meet three gal pals; Maddie (Monica Keena), Lily (Diora Baird) and Suzanne (Bobbi Sue Luther) whose characters are defined in a sequence where they call each other whores and tramps, discuss pubic hair and one slathers a handful of Aloe Vera on her chafed pussy. Monica establishes herself as the non-conformist of the group because she goes au natural and dresses up as a murder victim instead of a slutty cat. Moving on... Jason (John F. Beach) and Dex (Michael Copon) smoke some weed. Jason hunts down a teenage bully and shoots him repeatedly with a paint gun while screaming "You mother fucker!" at him. Colin (Edward Furlong) is a drug-pusher. He goes to see his British supplier, who's pissed his cut isn't enough, but not so pissed that he has the chick blowing him stop and take a breather while he's talking to Colin. All of the above parties end up at the Broussard place. Lily has a thing for Dex. For some unexplanable reason, Maddie has a thing for Colin, who's not only a junkie but also incredibly dull and a whiny wet blanket. But boy knows how to fuck. I'll take her word for it. And Angela, well, she pretty much has a thing for anyone with a penis or vagina. Cops end up raiding the party and send everyone home because no one has permission to be there in the first place.

With the place cleared out, Angela's stuck there cleaning up, Colin's still there because he dropped his drug stash down into a vent and the rest of the gang come back to get Suzanne, who'd gotten so drunk she passed out for a bit. Somehow the gate becomes locked, so everyone's trapped there for the night. While down in the basement, Colin and Angela quickly find a secret, sealed-off room filled with the dead, decaying bodies of people killed by the voodoo-and-witchcraft-practicing former owner. OK, let me stop here for a second. So six people disappeared inside the home and the cops were unable to locate a room in the basement that Colin immediately sees his first time down there? Uh huh. So anyway, one of the skeletons bites Angela's finger and a series of demonic possessions are soon underway. Angela possesses Dex with a kiss during a game of spin the bottle. Dex possesses Lily during sex and, for whatever reason, some tentacles pop out of her breasts. Angela then seduces Suzanne and rips off her breast and face and so on. The deaths come rather quickly for awhile then pretty much stop cold as our three heroes try to endure multiple demon attacks.

This film is a prime example of what happens when a modern filmmaker has a clear affection for an older film yet doesn't quite understand what made it so enjoyable in the first place. As is often the case, the director decides to "improve" upon the source material by taking most of the key elements and going completely overboard with them, resulting in a loud, monotonous and one-note film. OK, so I know the original film had its fair share of loud, foul-mouthed, obnoxious characters, but did the people responsible for this one really have to make every single character so thoroughly unlikable? At least the 1988 Demons had something of a counterbalance with a handful of characters who were reasonably bearable. Again, there was plenty of profanity in the original, but nothing like in this movie.

Colin, Maddie and Jason re-enter the house after being outside. A demon suddenly pops out.


(Another demon pops out.)


What the fuck was that? Shit! Go! Go! Fuck!

(All three enter another room and duck behind a desk.)

Shit! Fuck!

Holy fucking crap.

What the fuck were they man? Ang and Suzanne?

That wasn't Suzanne. That wasn't Suzanne's fucking face!

What the fuck were they?

Fuck. I stabbed it with a poker all the way through and it didn't do anything!

What the fuck were they?

I stabbed it with a poker!

Would you shut the fuck up about the god damn poker?

We have to get the fuck out of her, now.

The fucking gate is locked!

(unintelligible mumble) fucking Angela (mumble) the door that leads out of here (mumble)

Where is it?

I don't fucking know. Where the fuck? Maybe we should try the fucking basement.

So yeah... Needless to say, Shakespeare it ain't. Unlike the original film, which has some very funny put-downs and one-liners, the dialogue here isn't the least bit clever or witty. Well, not unless your idea of high comedy is the 'f bomb.' If that's the case, you'll probably be sore from laughing by the time this one's over.

While the original was measured enough to actually build up to each of its shock scenes and even attempt for suspense and atmosphere, Demons '09 eventually deteriorates into a numbing barage of gore-splatter, CGI, heavy metal noise, split-second editing, non-stop profanity laden dialogue and seizure-cam. The horror scenes are bloody and loud, but they're never scary and they completely lack the spook show fun of the first movie. Part of the true joy of older horror films is in the wait and anticipation for the scare and few modern genre filmmakers seem to realize that. Shame.

I didn't like the changes made to the signature character Angela either. In the original film, Angela was a misunderstood, somewhat bitchy outsider. Here, she's a nasty slut and Shannon Elizabeth quite frankly sucks in this role. Her delivery on lines like "I want you dancing! I want you drinking! And I want you fucking!" while thrusting her crotch and 'seductively' slobbering all over a wine bottle are pretty embarrassing even for a chick whose main claim to fame was showing off her silicone-enhanced tits in a mediocre teen sex comedy ten years earlier. And speaking of silicone-enhanced tits: Good Lord, Bobbi Sue Luther! And Good Lord wardrobe people for having this girl dressed in a top about 3 sizes too small that make her boobs look like over-filled water balloons about to burst. Sexy or flat out uncomfortable to look at? You be the judge. I couldn't help but stare at her cleavage the entire time either way. Diora Baird also has, shall we say, generous endowments and they come in handy during a scene which leads one character to exclaim, "She stuck a lipstick in her boob and it fell out of her pussy, ok!" Of course if you're familiar with the original, you know the famous lipstick scene already. This one tries to one-up it but fails miserably thanks to an abrupt set-up and the fact it's difficult to actually see.

This also marks a the downward spiral in the career of poor Eddie Furlong. Once a star in great films like TERMINATOR 2 (1992), AMERICAN HEART (1993) and AMERICAN HISTORY X (1998), Furlong not only looks tired, but he also seems completely disinterested in even being in this film. Tiffany Shepis, who is much more of a traditional Scream Queen than any of the rest of these actresses, gets a minor role as a girl who runs off with all the party money. Shepis is actually a much more skilled and attractive actress than Elizabeth and would have made a far better Angela, but I suppose her name doesn't have quite the draw. Perhaps her cup size being smaller than a DD didn't help her secure a larger role either. Original Demons star, the always-delightful Linnea Quigley, has a cameo, which actually IS funny. Tony Brown, a very nice guy who runs the Slumber Party / Sorority House Massacre fan site "The Old Hockstatter Place" is one of the party guests.

All in all, this is gorier, flashier, more action-packed and more 'polished' than the first, but it completely lacks that film's simple campy / creepy charm. Bigger isn't always better, though the special effects and makeups showcased here are certainly excellent.



Fistfull of Boomstick said...

I've been tempted with this one for awhile now but I keep getting put off. This review has made it less appealing. Nice write up dude.

Maynard Morrissey said...

Great review!
This remake could have been so awesome, alas, it ended up as being pretty forgettable. Seen it last year but apart from the ending scene, I can't remember anything about it O_o

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

Thanks! As a fan of the original this was definitely something of a disappointment.

Jared Roberts said...

Y'know, the only thing I really liked about this movie was Edward Furlong's performance. He acted like he didn't want to have anything to do with the movie, the people, the set, etc--and that seemed very appropriate. I identified with him.
And regarding Bobbi Sue Luther, her 'cups runneth over' boobage proved equally distracting in the much better film, Laid to Rest, even though director Robert Hall tried to hide it under a sweater most of the movie.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I don't know Jared. I saw Furlong in the semi-recent 'Dark Reel' too and he gave another 'Mumble mumble where's my paycheck' performance in that one as well. His new 'anti-acting acting style' seems to be a recurring thing.

I have Laid to Rest but haven't watched it yet. Had no clue Bobbi Sue was in it. Hopefully I won't get too distracted there!

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