As a fan of all things horror, this was a movie that was always on my radar since I first saw the VHS cover back in the late 80s or early 90s. For reasons and other reasons, it’s only recently that I saw it for the first time and I understand why it has such a cult following – it has all the ingredients of a perfect 80s horror – annoying teens getting picked off, lovingly made gruesome practical special effects, a cheesy premise and even cheesier acting, and that intangible sense of malevolent care-free fun which was so prevalent in movies of the decade.
In what is essentially a retread of Night Of The Living Dead but merged with teen comedies and other horrors of the era, a bunch of kids get together at a spooky old house for a Halloween party, only to realize they are trapped by demonic forces from within and without. We have the usual cast of characters you would expect in an 80s teen horror – outcast, virgin, jock, idiot, and so on. As you may also expect, the performances aren’t great and there is a fair amount of unintentional humour. Luckily though, there is intentional humour too, and even some of the intentional scares work well, though there is nothing a modern audience will not have seen many times before. What works best are the special effects – for such a small budget some of the effects are nothing short of astounding, and in a couple of instances I was genuinely, surprisingly impressed. The make-up work is good too, not up to Krueger standards, but effective.
The plot doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but in the end it doesn’t need to. Every generation will enjoy watching their peers put in danger and be chased, threatened, tortured, and killed for our amusement, and each passing generation with a fondness for such things will look back with curiosity and nostalgia years after. The film does a good job of being exciting and moving at a swift pace – it winks and smirks and knows that we are meant to be having a good, silly time watching, and it doesn’t try to outstay its welcome or overplay its hand. This is a good party movie for horror fiends and a great choice to watch at a Halloween party – especially if you measure the fun factor against recent releases of the same ilk.
Have you seen Night Of The Demons? Where does it rank in a list of 80s horror movies for you? Let us know in the comments!