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February 27, 2014

Movie Review: Night of the Demons (1988, Blu-ray / Combo Pack)

During the 1980’s genre films as a whole were represented nicely with the explosive popularity of the slasher film and the inevitable growth of directors like Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street) and John Carpenter (Halloween, The Fog).  As we started to creep towards the end of the decade, the pickings were unfortunately slim as far good quality horror. Much of this in part to frequent censorship Nazis like MPAA president Jack Valenti, who was so bent on messing with "'violent" horror films. Oh and, well, the overall output just sucked. Jason Takes Manhattan is wonderful example of the late 80's downward spiral.

Thankfully a couple of gentlemen came to the rescue with some excellent offerings towards the end of the decade – Clive Barker with Hellraiser and Kevin Tenney with Witchboard and Night of the Demons.  Night of the Demons has now made it’s debut on Blu-ray in a DVD / Blu-ray Combo pack with Tenney’s other film via the folks at Scream Factory.

One of the most common used plot devices for some of the most entertaining horror films over the past three decades have been having that "big party" to gather all the teenagers in the film at and dispatch them in all sorts of creative ways. Night of the Demons does just that, but it also adds a neato possession and haunted house element that brings it to another level.  It’s Halloween night and Angela’s having a costume bash at the supposedly haunted funeral parlor called “Hull House”. Mimi Kinkade plays the super sexy succubus, Angela, who is almost immediately possessed by the angry spirits whilst entering the house.

As the party gets started, one by one each of the party-goers either dies horribly and is subsequently possessed by the spirit that initially invaded Angela’s body or pursued by the soul-hungry monsters. Gore, laughs and some surprisingly creepy atmosphere fill the running-time, as it really doesn’t let up. The performances are also a hell of a lot of fun ; specifically by legendary scream queen Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead) who seems to be having a blast playing Angela’s pal, “Suzanne” and Hal Havins, who plays “Stooge”

For anyone at all concerned as to whether this Blu-ray is the cut version of Night of the Demons, don’t be. This is not the version snipped by ol’ Jack and his censorship-happy butchers; this is the completely uncut version and includes all the grue that was intended to splatter across the screen. The video and audio on this High Def release is absolutely impeccable so it's ok to use your old DVD version or any former incarnations as a coaster while you are taking in Tenney's classic.

The extras features on the disc are some of the better ones that Scream Factory has produced over the past couple years as they are not only lengthy but a whole lot of fun to watch and listen to. You get two commentaries, one of which is brand-new and features the majority of the cast joining Tenney in what is a really seems to be a lively atmosphere full of interesting background on the film and even some laughs. Surprisingly, Tenney was not a huge horror fan at the time and goes into some detail about that. The flow is perfect and overall it’s well worth a listen.

We do get the usual promotional items for Night of the Demons but the other bonus features to look out for are the plethora of interviews with cast and crew that are included on the featurettes. FX guru Steve Johnson gives some insight on his memorable creations and has some good stories. Actress Mimi Kinkade is also on hand (looking really good by the way.). She talks about how her dancing skill came in very handy when playing Angela and even brings up her famous aunt, Rue McLanahan. These supplements are all pretty solid.

Anytime there’s a movie that I have a particular fondness for like Night of the Demons, as a horror geek there can be a genuine concern on whether a new release is going to be bust. Scream Factory’s release is a no-brainer because it really is a fine package on all levels. Buy it now and enjoy Angela’s party better than ever! Highly Recommended.

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