Sunday, October 17, 2010

Where Are you Going? The Party's Just Begun

As Halloween approaches, most people will be watching and reviewing such classics as Halloween and Psycho for the holiday...reveling in the acclaim and classy stature that those well known genre-favorites hold while not taking too big a risk in watching and embracing critical darlings.  I however, while enjoying those movies, like to tackle lesser known and decidedly trashier fare from the 80s during my Halloween revelry.  Many of these horror films aren't terribly good or well-acted, the one I plan to look at today is particularly bad in the acting department, but damn if they don't manage to consistently unsettle me...perhaps even more-so than Halloween or Friday the 13th.  Maybe its their gritty look and no-budget approach, or perhaps its the dark and depressing atmosphere, or maybe its even the idea that sometimes its not overly obvious who will and who won't survive.  Either way, these nasty and trashy films are surely worth watching around All Hallows Eve to get you into a spooky mood.  However, they are not for beginners.  The film I plan to talk about to day is one I recommend for getting away from the more well-known films and into the dark and seedy backstreets of the unknowns.  Angela's party won't wait forever, so lets hurry up and party during the Night of the Demons.

Its Halloween Night, 1988, and a group of teens have been invited to a Halloween party at Hull House, a notorious abandoned local mortuary.  The kids include Judy, a clean-cut and innocent blond, Sal, the bad boy who wants to get in Judy's pants, Suzanne, the best friend of the host and requisite slut, and Angela, the hostess of the party.  There are others involved as well and they begin the evening with heavy drinking, smoking, and dancing.  It seems to be the typical party in the old so-called haunted house, but when the kids decide to explore the cellar and hold an impromptu seance with a mirror they awaken something invisible and evil.  The first to be taken is Suzanne who then passes the evil to Angela via a very racy (for the time) kiss.  They begin acting strange and soon are transforming into vicious monsters with a thirst for blood and mayhem.  It seems that the kids are being possessed one-by-one by evil demons that reside within the house and the remaining teens are now left to run for their lives.  What follows is some of the most gory and inventive genre vomit to come out of American Horror in the 1980s including a much talked about 'lipstick tube' scene which I won't ruin here.

Night of the Demons is trashy and irredeemable...which is what makes it so much friggin' fun to watch.  It knows exactly what type of exploitation film it wants to be and exactly who its audience is and isn't ashamed at all to put it right out there.  Demons could play remarkably well alongside the Tarantino and Rodriguez double-feature Grindhouse for its sheer sleeze factor.  The only difference in the two would be the level of acting talent displayed on screen.  Amelia Kinkade as Angela is pretty good as the party hostess and eventually demon leader, as is Billy Gallo as Sal and Hal Havins as Stooge, the obligatory idiot.  However, Cathy Podewell as Judy, Linnea Quigley as Suzanne, and Jill Terashita as Frannie (obligatory Asian girl) are so cringeworthy that you spend quite a bit of time waiting for them to get offed just so you don't have to hear their bland voices any longer (Quigley actually improves once she goes demon)...but lets face it.  None of these girls were cast for acting chops, they were cast because they had nice boobs and looked good unclothed.  Given my orientation, I can't give you an honest assessment on the quality of the T&A of the film suffice to say that there's a lot of it.  I'd comment on the other actors, but I honestly can't remember them all that well.  They're just the typical teenage archetypes and stereotypes.  I'm glad more of the budget went into the effects work, which is top notch.  The makeup and gore effects are amazing for a film of this caliber and make the film succeed where it should fail.  Also of note is the writing, which isn't great but it gives us some amazingly quotable lines.  Lines such as "Do you guys have 'sour' balls?" and "Eat a bowl of Fuck! I am here to party!" are true gems, and I think a few have even become internet memes. I think now would be a good time to say that I don't think my mother should watch this film...but any self-respecting horror fan should.  I promise you won't ever be the same.


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