Night of the Demons (1988) Directed by Kevin Tenney
Kevin Tenney’s supernatural horror comedy Night of the Demons has not aged well at all and rather than a cult classic it feels more like a dusty artifact from the 80’s which you rediscover with enthusiasm and also disgust, yet I must say I didn’t remember it being so playfully parodic about modern horror culture. Consequently, there is much within its trashy materials that make up this outmoded product that I appreciate and unapologetically embrace. For starters, the shallow, derivative script written by Joe Augustyn is nothing extraordinary – it’s a clumsy mishmash of 1980s horror mythology being driven by a haphazard, incoherent storyline – and I get the sense that Kevin Tenney is aware of the ubiquitous mediocrity inherent in Augustyn’s prosaic writing, thus, he seeks to make a self-parody of it in order to at least offer authentic amusing overtones and with them elaborate a story that seems always determined to exploit with kinky comedy the worst of the genre and its stereotypical facets. The result is an outrageously sexist, wildly bawdy and stylistically heterogeneous film.
The spooky plot takes place on Halloween night at a bizarre party thrown by Angela (Amelia Kinkade) – your typical rebellious 80’s goth girl with a morbid fascination for the occult – in a sepulchral mortuary abandoned for apparently being a house possessed by evil spirits. Invited to the party are a bunch of noisy, horny teenagers looking to have an idiosyncratic Halloween party. What transpires after all this diverse group of characters enter this funereal space is kind of like a slasher-style Evil Dead. Look at it this way, Night of the Demons is supernatural horror but with characters molded with slasher ideals. The formula is atrocious, however as I stated a while ago, the over-the-top and overly ridiculous approach exhibits a particular potential that renders this worn-out product curiously parodic. The storytelling takes a while to get to the good stuff, but when it does the entertainment is ferocious and devilishly enjoyable. When Amelia Kinkade playing the undisputed icon of this film does her lecherous demonic dance and all hell breaks loose in the haunted house, the plot is relished more for its dynamic nonsense than for the actual narrative proceedings.
Moreover, the performances dogmatically pursue this campy directionality without regret; like Tenney, they are conscious of the contrivances and the wacky storytelling. Cathy Podewell’s staggeringly annoying performance as the inevitable blonde, pretty girl of the group provides a pertinent overacting that only adds to the hilarious intensity of the film’s overall vibe. The other performances are just as aptly lousy. I am perhaps being somewhat ambivalent with my verdict; it’s not a good movie. Nevertheless, it’s the kind of movie where its flaws are both functional and dysfunctional. When its clichés are too obvious it is insipid, when it derides its own nature and uses its canvas as a pornographic joke it is optimally vulgar but fun.