The Party to End All Parties – Night of the Demons (1988)

Sometimes parties go wrong. In Night of the Demons, as the title might imply, the party featured within this film goes completely off the rails when a demon is accidentally set free. Maybe it could have been anticipated, what with the location of the party taking place in the infamous Hull House – a mortuary that was abandoned some time ago and rumoured to be cursed. As it is the students who decide to throw caution to the wind and partake in the event are soon finding themselves victims of the demon, unknowingly at first and then quite aware as there is nowhere for them to go, the house closing in on them and not knowing who to trust or what to do.

While the movie may not be high-brow entertainment, it is a lot of fun and one of the more enjoyable horror films of the 1980’s to feature a ton of gruesome special effects, packing the picture full of blood and gore. It all starts out innocent enough, but when the kids hold a séance and free the demon; it is not long before dismemberment and death rear their heads. With some amusing kills taking place including one in a coffin, the removal of various body parts and so on, the horror in the film does not lack. Accompanying it is some fairly cheesy comedy that falls flat, it probably being funnier during the year it was released, but it does tend to add a little light to the dark so that it does not seem all that bleak. While the budget was supposedly not as large as director Kevin S. Tenney might have preferred, the film looked great proving that money does not always make the movie. One of the main negatives to be found is the pace of the film, which starts out a bit slow and seems to take an eternity for it to finally get going, but once it does, it moves at breakneck speed, the bodies falling one after the other.

Starring Cathy Podewell as the final girl and Alvin Alexis as the only guy to make it out alive when most would have pegged him as a red shirt, they do a good job of the material they are given, but it would be Amelia Kinkade as the main possessee by the demon and classic scream queen Linnea Quigley who would steal the show. Though many would peg Quigley as the one who would get the best scenes, it can be argued that Kinkade did an even better job and so much so that she would be the one to appear in the sequels that would follow. It is not only the visceral that Tenney plays for scares, but uses the house itself as well, factoring in a little claustrophobia as the students are unable to leave as they are being killed off, the walls closing in around them until out of them all, only two remain.

Some of what happens within might be familiar to those accustomed with the genre and it cannot be helped when trying to tell a haunted house story, but Tenney makes it work and seems to have had a good time doing it as the audience does watching it. With a fair amount of gruesomeness and a couple of surprises here and there, Night of the Demons is a lively outing, one that has become a cult classic for good reason.

3.5 out of 5

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