Night of the Demons tears the '80s horror playbook into thin, bloody strips. Most spam-in-a-cabin movies from that era would kick off with some pre-credits slaughter, spend a little time getting to know the red shirts, and then slop out some kind of scare every eight minutes, to the point where you could just about set your watch for the next kill. Night of the Demons instead carves out its
Still, the decaying mansion standing in for Hull House is all the right kinds of spooky, the editing and cinematography are accomplished enough to keep the film visually engaging, and the very young cast is energetic enough (and bares enough skin) to keep the whole thing buzzing along. If you're looking for straightahead horror beats, nothing happens for more than half the movie, and yet somehow Night of the Demons is never boring. When all Hell finally does break loose, Night of the Demons refuses to ease up on the throttle. The final thirtysomeodd minutes are wall-to-wall chaos: nothing but eye gouging, dismemberment, pyromania, impalement, and gloriously gruesome makeup effects. There's really one sequence in Night of the Demons' second half where the movie stops to catch its breath, and even it's too claustrophobic enough to let the energy that had been propelling the flick ever peter out.
This isn't the type of movie where I can push up my glasses and drone on and on about symbolism or whatever. At least that keeps this part of the review short. Nope, Night of the Demons is just an infectiously fun, trashy-in-all-the-right-ways '80s horror flick. Boobs. Butts. Blood. Tremendous makeup effects. Small army of demons. Not much of anything else to get in the way. There's still plenty of stuff that sets Night of the Demons apart from the rest of the pack, though, and I'm not just talking about Linnea Quigley going all full-frontal again. The makeup effects designed by Steve Johnson still look impressive more than a quarter-century later. I can't think of a more iconic villainess in a horror franchise than Angela. (Most female killers don't make it to a second installment, and even the movies that do get sequels like Ginger Snaps and Sleepaway Camp redirect their focus or are recast.) I don't think of Night of the Demons as being "scary", exactly, but the climax with the onslaught of the possessed still rattles me even my fifth or sixth time through. You'll never look at lipstick the same way again, and I defy you to watch the movie and not walk away saying "eat a bowl of fuck!" at some point afterwards. Can't be done. Highly Recommended.
I'm not sure when MGM hammered out this high-def transfer of Night of the Demons, but it's not surprisingly a pretty dramatic improvement over Anchor Bay's DVD from a decade back. Brief moments from the Anchor Bay disc were culled from a low-quality video source; MGM and Scream Factory's, meanwhile, is all film, all the way. Even the celluloid-sourced stretches of the Anchor Bay disc were dragged down by a somewhat harsh, video-like contrast, while this shiny new Blu-ray disc is more filmic overall. The color timing leans a bit more towards the cooler end of the spectrum than the original Anchor Bay release, and although I'm not sure which one's more accurate, the palette here feels right to me. I snapped a few screencaps if you want to do a side-by-side comparison. If I felt like dusting off my old Laserdisc, I could've thrown that in too for good measure, but whatever.
This Blu-ray release of Night of the Demons is exactly what I waltzed in hoping to see. The image does strike me as a bit soft at times but is generally very nicely defined and offers up plenty of fine detail. Black levels are spot-on. Film grain is also rendered really well, expectedly looking kinda chunky under low light but is otherwise fairly tight and unintrusive. The presentation doesn't look overly filtered or artificially processed. I couldn't spot any hiccups in the AVC encode, even in those challenging sequences where Night of the Demons whips out the strobe light again. There's not a whole lot of anything in the way of speckling or wear. We're talking about a movie that's been on my Blu-ray wish list for a while, and this disc definitely lives up to my expectations. I'd even go so far as to say it's one of the best looking releases from Scream Factory yet.
Night of the Demons is a combo pack that features this dual-layer Blu-ray disc alongside an anamorphic widescreen DVD. This presentation is very lightly letterboxed to preserve the film's theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
This Blu-ray disc piles on three lossless soundtracks, each in 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio. There's the expected 5.1 remix, of course, along with a pair of stereo tracks. The first stereo track is listed as the original audio,
I generally listened to Night of the Demons in 5.1, and it's okay. I was really impressed at first by the clarity and throaty synth-bass of the music over the opening titles, but things get a lot more meek after that. The quality of the dialogue can vary wildly from scene to scene. It just doesn't have that lossless fidelity -- that distinctness, that clarity -- that Blu-ray usually spoils me with, and the same holds for most of the sound effects. It's all a little dull and muddled together. Some lines and effects also bleed somewhat from the front mains into the surrounds, and that can be an unwelcome distraction. The rear channels aren't especially aggressive in this remix but make their presence known when it counts, such as a couple enveloping, haunting bursts of evil and a barrage of slamming doors near the end. There aren't any big, booming stings in the score to really get you leaping off your couch, and the subwoofer is hit or miss. I really wished a slam-slam-slammed coffin lid would've packed a thicker, meatier crunch, but instead it's kinda bland. As unremarkable as the lossless remix is, at least it doesn't leave me with any of the usual gripes: no clipping, distortion, dropouts, intrusive background noise, or any of that.
There are a couple of commentaries to go along with these three lossless soundtracks, but I'll dig into those a little later. All of the soundtracks are in English, and the same goes for Night of the Demons' subtitles.
Night of the Demons comes packaged in a slipcase with original artwork by Nathan Thomas Milliner. It looks great to me, but if that's not your thing, the reversible cover art also features the iconic "Angela is having a party..." poster.
I'll review all the extras and everything, but the short answer is that this is as definitive a release as you could possibly imagine.
The Final Word
No matter how many times I see it, Night of the Demons is one of those movies that I think I like more than I actually do, but whatever. This is a fast, fun, frenetic flick that scratches my '80s trash-horror itch as few others can, and Scream Factory has lavished one of the era's most memorable B-movies with the Blu-ray release it deserves. Highly Recommended.
In Case You Missed It Up There...
Yes, this is the unrated version of Night of the Demons. Accept no substitutes.