The October Diaries: Night of the Demons

night-of-the-demons-1988-lipstick (1)
Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean & Christof

October 9th, 2014:
Night of the Demons

Year: 1988
Director: Kevin Tenney
Vehicle: Blu-ray
From IMDB: On the night of Halloween, 10 teens decide to go to a party at an abandoned funeral parlor.

Sean’s Take:

The production quality was to be commended. Scenes were lit with care and there was plenty of attention paid to camera position and movement. It paid off getting a Blu-ray from Movie Madness because there were some real cinematic artists at work on this. I just wouldn’t place the screenwriter among them.

The movie felt like an ensemble piece, which I usually appreciate. Unfortunately it was an ensemble of assholes. I don’t mind cinematic cads, they just have to be compelling and our gaggle of victims were not very compelling. The script was composed of a series of scenes where our friends (“friends”) insulted one another repeatedly. When the entire gang was in the same room, this volley of insults reached fever pitch. Much of the movie took place in one confined danger-house so this verbal warfare was engaged in frequently. If only the insults were a bit more compelling or crafted I could’ve maybe convinced myself to love this movie a little. Instead, it antagonized me.

I enjoyed the character of Suzanne, played by Linnea Quigley. She was the designated blonde floozy of the bunch and her strange take on demonic possession felt unique. With a face covered in lipstick, the kind of abstract application that would draw the lingering gaze of most contemporary art fans, evoked a satisfying mix of confusion and terror. The topless scene of her applying a spiral of lipstick to her chest ends with a surprising special effects moment that also made her one of the few lasting impressions from the movie.*

A character I did not enjoy was Stooge. It felt like this could’ve been the role to provide us with some much needed comedy relief, instead Hal Havens played the part with a real vicious streak of misogynistic rage. With a big frame and a small mullet, Stooge calls every woman a bitch at least once by the end of the movie, probably twice, and ended up being the biggest asshole of a cast swimming with them. King Asshole.

Roger was probably the most likeable of the bunch. He was the first character to try to leave this ill-advised, aww-shit-we-summoned-some-shit-with-that-mirror, party. In a shocking twist, it’s Roger, a person of color, who gets to play the hero at a pivotal moment. For a somewhat mean-spirited movie, I will give it full credit for having an African American character be counted amongst the survivors.

There’s an extended solo dance scene that’s worth mentioning.


An underground river encircles the house, keeping the evil from crossing over into the rest of the world. I like this bit of myth-building and always enjoy when I understand the rules of a particular menace. I don’t think there would have been so many Highlander sequels if we didn’t all love the fact that they can only be killed if they get their heads chopped off.

I’m grasping at straws with these bits of praise and Highlander tangents. Thus far, Night of the Demons is holding up the rear. My least favorite of the month.

*Apparently Quigley met her future husband, special effects artist Steve Johnson, while he was working on her fake breasts. They have since divorced. 

Night of the Demons

Christof’s Take:

The opening credits cartoon-sequence was cheesy and involved. It gave me high hopes, and then the movie didn’t really deliver. I had a pretty good time for the first half hour, and there were minutes of a good time here and there, but overall, I was not pleased.

Every character except for two were complete assholes. It was almost charming in certain scenes from an absurdist point of view. It started out a little amusing and then it was just grating. Almost everyone in this movie is both offended and offensive.

They throw a Halloween party at a famed spooky mortuary in a graveyard with lots of goofy horror myths surrounding it. The lore is divulged through clunky, quippy expository dialogue that struts around like it was room-written by aspiring sitcom writers. Then these mean little fuckers turn into demons, usually through kissing or sex (one couple does it in a coffin), but it’s arguable… from a moral point of view… that these jerks… were always demons!

This film may seem to have low morals because of their ridiculous depictions, but I think it has too many. I got a strong, zealous anti-sex vibe from the movie, as if it was a PSA dressed up like a high-budget Troma movie as a way to lure potential-heathens of the world into getting accidentally saved by a “These aren’t really your friends” message.

Admittedly, this is probably not the case. I’m just talkin’ vibes, man. But then again…

The two goody-goodies at the party are the only ones that don’t turn into demons. At one point toward the end, Goody #1 and Goody #2 are trying to escape. Goody #2 says to Goody #1, “First let’s pray,” and Goody #1 replies that she’s “been praying all night!”

Apart from these examples of reading too much into a silly horror movie, it had some decent moments. Most of them belong to the character Suzanne (Linnea Quigley, the actor most worthy of mention), who doesn’t just go reductively evil when she gets all demoned out. Instead, she goes daffy, but Quigley is putting in real work here. It is by far the creepiest aspect of the movie. In the midst of her own newborn demon confusion, she puts lipstick all over her face and breasts like this is obviously something that needs to be done, and then magically inserts the tube of lipstick into her nipple, where it disappears. An inspired bit of practical effects to execute a befuddling concept.

However, the best part of the movie is an afterthought: a perfect little Halloween-related short film at the end that sincerely has nothing to do with the rest of the movie. I repeat: NOTHING TO DO WITH THE REST OF THE MOVIE. The characters are new. There situation is new. They are here for two minutes. There are no demons and it does not take place at night. It’s the morning after. So there’s the tenuous connection of maybe this is the same world. But really it’s not even the same sub-genre of horror. What the fuck is going on? But it’s great.

I honestly recommend you watch the opening credits sequence and then skip over most of the movie to this last scene.



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