Night of the Demons (2009)


Once I know I want to see a particular movie, I consciously avoid its trailers and reviews to keep the experience as unspoiled as possible. Last year I saw an article about a clever ’80s style horror movie coming out. That was enough to sell me so I didn’t read any further. Problem was, two movies fitting that description were released around the same time. I knew the title was *Something* of the *Somethings*, but I couldn’t remember if it was House of the Devil or Night of the Demons. I figured I’d just put both on the list for the 31 Flavors and let fate decide whether I saw the one I was looking for first or second. I randomly chose to start with Night of the Demons. I can only hope this wasn’t the one I read about.

"I'm supposed to be Marie Curie, duh."

The story: I have a vague recollection of watching the original 1988 Night of the Demons (though I’ve seen neither of its two sequels) in college. I’m pretty sure I would have been drunk at the time but I don’t think the 2009 remake has much to do with the first one, other than the general premise of young people getting possessed by demons in a spooky house on Halloween. Actually, that’s pretty darn similar.

Whatever. For the third time this season, 31FoT welcomes you back to eerie New Orleans! This time a bunch of 30-somethings playing 20-somethings are getting ready to slut it up at a big Halloween bash at spooky Broussard House, the site of a grisly death and several unsolved disappearances some 85 years ago. Things are going swimmingly and the party honestly looks fun until the fuzz busts in and shuts it down.

"Demons don't scare me, I kill Terminators. And Twinkies."

The organizer (a curiously modest Shannon Elizabeth) and a few stragglers (including Edward Furlong, well on his way to completing the transformation into a morbidly obese Gollum) stay behind to clean up. When they try to leave they discover the gate is locked and they’re stuck for the night. Apparently demons employ cellphone jamming technology.

They wind their way down to the creepy basement where, after 30 seconds of snooping, they manage to uncover the hidden bodies of the house’s previous occupants – a feat that eight decades of police investigation failed to accomplish. Well done, Scooby gang! Now why are the walls bleeding?

"We are never getting our security deposit back."

Biggest letdown: Unless it’s played for kitsch, it’s never a good sign when a movie, already of dubious quality, opens with a tailor-made theme song describing what’s about to go down in the film. So from the outset I had a sneaking suspicion I was in for disappointment as Big Easy revelers party hearty to the fresh lyrics, “Come on out and party with the dead/ Night of the demons/ Say your prayers/ ’cause the demons come out…on Halloween!”

That song was whipped up by self-described “legendary horror-punk” band 45 Grave. To be fair they have a few thousand Facebook followers so I bet it’s not as ridiculous as it seemed in context, and the rest of the soundtrack is solidly kick-ass. (Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting” fucking OWNS). But when a song called “Night of the Demons” is written specifically for the opening credits of a movie with the same name, well, it’s like wearing the t-shirt of the band you’re going to see. Or worse, wearing an I-Heart-NY shirt on a bus trip to see Wicked. Don’t be that guy.

But the goofy theme song choice is merely an indicator of the movie’s failings. More problematic by far, after a decent first hour of hard rock, banter and mutilations, the remaining minutes seem interminable. The characters are literally depicted napping for a few hours at one point just to kill time and get us closer to dawn, when the demons will be forced to retreat. It’s a testament to the film’s lack of faith in itself that the time killing doesn’t occur before the introduction of the demons, when the characters are stuck in the house with nothing but each other and a well stocked bar. A better movie would have luxuriated with a much slower build and come out of the first act with a group of thoroughly endearing characters.

NICE.

Why you should watch: Despite its overall shat quality, there are a few glimmers of hope in the muck. First off there’s a nice amount gory, gross-out kills (e.g., sex with a demon does not end well for human participants). More importantly there are some genuinely funny ad libs peppered throughout the movie that make the characters at least somewhat likeable. One thing that particularly impressed me was cinematographer Yaron Levy who, to this layman’s eyes, appeared to be seriously on his game. Among its frenzied corridor chases and music video cuts, Night of the Demons features a number of excellently framed stationary angles and some elaborate, high-speed dolly shots, which give the movie a really slick, polished feel, even if only sporadically. I mean, look at this:

Also, Edward Furlong is fucking FAT.

Memorable Moment: After the party but before faces start getting torn off, the gang decides to play spin the bottle. All the guys are hooting and hollering as the bottle lands on two ladies, who promptly make out with verve. But the next round results in a guy-on-guy situation. To the movie’s credit, the guys reluctantly go through with it, prompting one of the girls to immediately confirm every homophobe’s worst fear by remarking, “Congratulations, you are now officially gay.”

Choice quote: “She stuck a lipstick in her boob and it fell out of her pussy, okay?”

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4 Responses to “Night of the Demons (2009)”

  1. is it weird that the “choice quote” just makes me think of that scene with molly ringwald in the breakfast club??

    • they actually lifted it shot for shot from the directors cut of breakfast club. John Hughes’ original vision for BC was surprisingly graphic…

  2. […] Night of the Demons (2009) – John Connor has really let himself go. […]

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