Night of the Demons Collections Edition Blu-ray Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, February 23, 2014
There may be such a thing as too high a resolution, with respect to beloved cult horror films. "Blasphemy!" you cry with all of the righteous, horror loving indignation muster-able over the tubes comprising the interwebs. But this proved sadly and unhappily true with Scream Factory's recent release of Day of the Dead- the ultra high resolution allowed fans to see behind the wizard's make-up curtain, and what we see is that it isn't as perfect as we were led to believe by the softer visuals of 35mm (or their blurry cousins VHS and broadcast television). This is by no means a dig at Scream Factory, who have turned out yet another visually stunning Blu ray transfer here, but rather a warning signal to fans that the way they've always seen and known Night of the Demons is about to change.
For instance, did you know that in Linnea Quigley's infamous distraction scene, she's actually wearing pantyhose? The sound you hear is the walls of my adolescent fantasy cave crumbling. This new transfer quite clearly shows the seat panels of those pantyhose. Am I advocating the cessation of Scream's lovingly treated releases of the lesser well known end of genre fare? No! These fine folks continue to bring a smile to my inner demon's face in ways which I can never properly thank them for. And in fact, once I'd recollected the fragments of my blown mind, it became quite clear that the high quality transfer was a boon to the rest of director Kevin Tenney's horror cult classic. The contrast was given a noticeable kick in the pants, boosting the numerous darkly lit scenes into a higher visual range.
Recently I've come to understand that Night of the Demons is a divisive flick, which given its campy, schlocky nature, I should have notice earlier. While I completely understand the reluctance some film fans hold toward it, Night of the Demons is the movie that perfectly encapsulates cheesy American 80's horror flicks for me. A better time cannot be had with friends and popcorn on a Saturday night than with this demon-possessing-horny-teen-party yarn. Of this archetype, it's tough to top Night of the Demons.
Scream Queen Linnea Quigley and best friend/goth hottie Angela (Amelia Kinkade) throw a Halloween bash at a house with a history of murders, built on Native American burial ground (double whammy). On the invite list are the who's who of horror movie stereotypes/murder puppets: the horny Italian jerk, the preppy asshole who looks down on half the other attendees, the virginal girl who doesn't want to be there, and the obnoxious fat slob are all present and accounted for. Once all of these meat popsicles are positioned and in play, demons waste no time possessing them, then wreaking havoc amongst the previously jovial teens.
It isn't that Night of the Demons is an original concoction, rather the pure joy comes from its perfection of form, and the revelry in that excess, which makes this a much loved classic. Scream Factory knows that we love this one, and they rightly shower fans in an embarrassment of riches by way of the special features department. A brand new commentary was recorded (and it's a doozy) featuring Director Kevin Tenney, FX Artist Steve Johnson (who married Linnea Quiggley after they met making her fake breasts for the lipstick scene), and actors Cathy Podwell (Judy), Hal Havins (Stooge!), and Billy Gallo (Sal). There's also a second commentary track with Tenney, Executive producer Walter Josten, and producer Jeff Geoffray, though it isn't as good as the new one. A new interview feature tops the cake though, as Scream Factory seems to always get the best recollections from these folk on film. Beyond that, all of the standards make an appearance: promo reel, still galleries, trailers, TV and radio spots; all the good stuff.
Should you purchase this new Blu ray/DVD combo pack? I suppose that answer lies within you. If you are a dyed in the wool lover of schlocky 80's cult horror, then this release absolutely need to be added to your collection. Scream Factory knocks it out of the park yet again, and horror fans are all better off for it.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.
Mania Grade: B
Starring: Linnea Quigley, Cathy Podewell, Amelia Kinkade, Hal Havins
Written By: Joe Augustyn
Directed By: Kevin Tenney
Distributor: Scream Factory
Special Features: See Below