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Director Kevin “Witchboard” Tenney’s 1988 demonic horror outing “Night of the Demons” isn’t a movie I’m particularly fond of, so the idea of a contemporary remake didn’t ruffle my cinematic feathers whatsoever. The original isn’t a masterpiece by anyone’s definition of the term, though it’s hardly the worst genre effort produced during this decidedly prolific era in horror’s stories history. In fact, I consider the film’s 1994 direct-to-video sequel to be a superior film in every conceivable way. What can I say – I have horrible taste in movies. Feel free to throw rotten vegetables in my general direction.
With that I mind, you can understand why I didn’t expect a lot from Adam Gierasch’s gory 2009 remake, especially since I’m not a fan of the director’s previous efforts. I’m willing to openly admit that the Gierasch and Jace Anderson-scripted “Toolbox Murders” had its moments, though I’m not entirely sure if any of those memorable scenes were intentionally entertaining. Outside of this questionably notable exception, it’s hard to get excited about the guy’s work. Anyone who has seen the woefully forgettable Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner “Derailed” and Tobe Hooper’s embarrassingly foul “Crocodile” knows precisely what I’m talking about. This is assuming, of course, that I’m not the only one who’s suffered through these obscure low-budget turkeys.
Truth be told, there’s a lot about “Night of the Demons” that I actually enjoyed, even when Gierasch’s notoriously brain dead script was continuously attempting to insult my limited intelligence and test what’s left of my patience. Trying to rationalize any of the events which transpire throughout the course of the film is an exercise in idiocy; nothing ever makes sense, even when the characters suddenly understand everything there is to know about the ins and outs of demonic possession. Exposition is an important element to have, even when it’s conjured out of thin air at the most opportune of moments.
The key to finding happiness within this satanic tumor is simple: turn off your brain, sit back, and enjoy the ride. For those of you who don’t mind empty-headed sleaze equipped with lots of ample cleavage, several dump trucks worth of foul language, and a handful of gore-soaked murders, “Night of the Demons” is an incredibly easy sell. If nothing else, Gierasch knows exactly what his audience wants, and he’s more than willing to toss as much blood-drenched debauchery at the screen as he possibly can in order to appeal to those who don’t mind slime over substance. Then again, I seriously doubt he was aiming for high art in the first place. Of course, that’s just speculation on my part.
But therein lies the problem: “Night of the Demons” is never entirely sure what it wants to be. It’s way too silly to be genuinely frightening, though the picture’s more disturbing highlights seem out-of-place in what often feels like a slapstick, tongue-in-cheek comedy. Even the cast doesn’t seem to be taking the material very seriously, particularly Edward Furlong. In fact, Furlong is the film’s strongest asset; just when you think you can’t handle yet another surprise attack from one of the film’s numerous demonic beings, Furlong’s reaction to the situation lovingly brings you back into the fold. Without him, I honestly doubt I would have made it all the way through.
Pasty, socially-awkward teenage boys and virginal thirty-something shut-ins are going to absolutely adore “Night of the Demons”. And while this self-proclaimed suburban hermit found the film’s goofy shenanigans to be somewhat amusing on a purely visceral level, it’s certainly not the most impressive gorefest I’ve seen this year. It has enough going for it to make it worthy of rental, but investing more than five dollars in this nonsense seems like a waste of money. That having been said, this would probably make a great party flick, one that you would screen for a group of friends who enjoy stupid horror movies loaded with sex, violence, and impossibly illogical scenarios. Just be sure to supply lots of alcohol.
Adam Gierasch (director) / Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson (screenplay)
CAST: Edward Furlong … Colin
Shannon Elizabeth … Angela Feld
Monica Keena … Maddie
Bobbi Sue Luther … Suzanne
John F. Beach … Jason
Michael Copon … Dex
Tiffany Shepis … Diana