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Night Of The Demons – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Night-Of-The-DemonsNight Of The Demons is a film that has been engrained in my consciousness ever since my very first viewing of it.  I remember it quite clearly.  That damn VHS box at the rental store was incredibly terrifying to me (see the thumb).  I always wanted to rent it but backed off.  Once the time came, I finally divulged.  And holy crap, this movie spooked the crap out of me.  It had some disturbing material that has haunted my brain since the first time I saw it.  Plus it had this alluring sexual vibe to it that as a kid in the Midwest growing up Catholic always adds a dimension of horror because it seems kind of dirty like you shouldn’t be watching.  It’s those early viewings and lasting effect that has made this film one of my favorite horror movies of all time.  So imagine my delight when my favorite Blu-ray distributor got their hands on it.  Joy!

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Film 

Its Halloween night and the gothic witchy girl at school, Angela, is having a party.  She’s throwing it at the Hull House.  The Hull House is an abandoned funeral parlor rumored to be haunted.   The group of 10 kids shows up and is ready to get sinful, but a séance Angela holds with a mirror unleashes a demon that begins to slowly murder and possess the kids one by one.  Will any of them survive the night or will all succumb to death and become an evil demon?

From the opening animated credits (which are friggin’ AWESOME!) you know you’re in for a really fun and scary time.  Creative opening credits are something of a lost art nowadays, so it always brings me a wonderful nostalgia when I see them done so well.  Night Of The Demons is one of the few 80s horror films that I think still can be effective as a scary horror film and not just a fun vintage piece of horror cinema.  It actually got me with a jump scare twice (genuine ones, not just the volume cranked or a cat jumping out of nowhere).  As an adult the film is incredibly a fun time, but thanks to the wonderful lighting and well staged scenes, I think the terror and dread is still effective.  The fun lures you in thinking you are safe and then BOOM, gotcha!

Kevin Tenney delivers a horror film that takes its time and slowly builds its monster and chase sequences, but never feels like a slug getting there.  While the characters aren’t too deep at all, they’re all really colorful, funny and really light up the screen with their presence.  Its enough for you to not realize it isn’t til around 40 minutes til the demons start showing up.  And then you really don’t like seeing the nasty things done to these kids because you enjoyed hanging with them until this time.

A big reason I think this film holds up so well in the actual scares department is the effects work by Steve Johnson.  They still look absolutely real and fantastic today.  The demons look gross and creepy and the deaths are a hell of a lot of good gory fun without being excessive.  He’s also got many moments of “How in the hell did he do that?” with his visual trickery.  It’s really impressive.  Take his make-up and effects then combine them with the sets and lighting (I wanna add that the ambience in the movie is incredibly chilling as well) and you’ve got a killer combination that keeps this film working well in 2014.

I’ll open up now and share something that incredibly disturbed me and stuck with me in this movie ever since.  Most horror fans first got a memorable taste of actress Linnea Quigley in Return Of The Living Dead.  Yes, she was in Silent Night, Deadly Night prior, but the Return role is what got everyone abuzz about her.  When I saw Night Of The Demons I had no clue it was the same woman.  And man, like the guys at the convenience store in the beginning, I thought she was just blazing hot in this movie.  As a young guy watching this trampy cute blonde girl trounce around in a pink outfit was just a dream come true.  And then came the lipstick scene.  If you know the one I’m talking about (its an amazing effect), then you know I was incredibly delighted to see her topless but insanely weirded out when she inserted the lipstick into her nipple.  And then when she’s having sex with the guy and transforms into that disgusting demon out of nowhere, it pulled the whole “woman in the bathtub from The Shining” effect on me.  Here was a woman that I thought was one of the hottest women in the world and she went and got reeeeeal ugly on me.  It totally warped my mind and scarred me! Okay, okay, I’m done with that, let’s get back to the review.

It’s always a wonderful thing when you revisit a film you remember as being terrified of as a youngling and for the most part it still works.  Night Of The Demons first and foremost is a whole lot of fun.  That it also is still pretty chilling, creepy and scary at times is an incredible bonus.  Even if maybe its not still working for you as it did me, there is still all the amazing make-up, effects work, set design, lighting and action sequences to marvel at and respect.  It’s really quite a great achievement still today in that department.  Overall, this is still a top horror film for me and I hope it still can scare and disturb a kid or 2 just like it did me in my youth.

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Video 

Possessing the 1080p MPEG-4 AVC video encoding is a very colorful picture that does finally does Night Of The Demons its due justice.  Don’t be fooled with some of the scenes very devoid of color as it’s the way a few of the rooms in the house are lit.  The colors on this one are very strong but also varied and saturated.  The fleshtones look terrific and appealing.  You’re able to make up some of the girls facial texture faults that are attempted to be hidden by makeup.  Also the gore and makeup hold up quite well under this transfer.  Scream Factory’s representation of the 1:85.1 picture really nails the mood, lighting and atmosphere for the picture, giving it an ability to hold up and still be quite frightening and unsettling after 26 years.

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Audio 

The demons come in on a very fine 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that really does enhance and play well with the spooks of the film.  The highlight of it all was the way they captured the haunting ambience from room to room of the haunted funeral parlor.  The dialogue is clean and clear, and the track really represents the distorted demon voices with prestige.  Also provided are a 2.0 Original DTS-HD MA track and a 2.0 NEW DTS-HD MA track.  I’m really beginning to fall in love with Scream Factory’s 2.0 tracks as they really do some masterful work on them and almost feel like a better representation of the film’s era, original presentation and intention.  All tracks provided on this release are a win for whichever you decide to listen to.

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Extras 

This collector’s edition also comes with a DVD copy of the film and a reversible cover with the original poster art (that damn creepy image of Angela).  This is a slew of worthwhile and nostalgia filled excellence all over the disc.  Plus, a feature length documentary on the movie and photo galleries that provide and extremely detailed account of the film make this an A-grade release.

Commentary With Director Kevin Tenney, Actors Cathy Podwell, Billy Gallo, Hal Havins And Special Make-up Effects Creator Steve Johnson – This is a brand new commentary recording specifically for this release.

Commentary With Director Kevin Tenney, Producer Jeff Geoffrey And Executive Producer Walter Josten – A vintage commentary ported over from a previous release of the film.

“You’re Invited” The Making Of Night Of The Demons (HD, 1:11:31) – An incredibly informative and full retrospective documentary on making the film featuring interviews from pretty much everyone involved.  Not only was this a fun movie, but it looked like it was a blast to work on and it really shows in the interviews.  Also, is it just me or is Steve Johnson not only trying to look like, but act like Tony Stark?

Interview With Amelia Kinkade (HD, 22:31) – The uncut interview session with the actress who played Angela.  It goes on for far too long and almost becomes comedic at points, but fans will dig it.

Allison Barron’s Demon Memories (HD, 3:56) – The actress shares some of her personal photos from the shooting of the film and the touring of it with premieres in different cities.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:28)

Video Trailer (HD, 1:55) – This is actually a far better cut trailer than the theatrical.

TV Spots (HD, 1:16) – 3 television ads for the movie.

Radio Spot (HD, :35)

Promo Reel (HD, 4:11) – Next to the documentary, this little bit made the release for me.  I love these old promo things sent to video stores trying to get them to carry it, showing how big their balls are.  “Night Of The Demons has grossed over 3 million dollars!”

Behind The Scenes Gallery – 111 pictures of shooting the film.

Special Effects And Make Up – 103 photos finely detailing the makeup and effect work on the film

Photo Gallery – 101 stills and promotional images from the film.

Posters And Storyboards – 15 stills of posters and storyboards from the film.

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Summary 

This Night Of The Demons release easily has a spot waiting for it in the Scream Factory Hall Of Fame.  This is instantly one of their best all time and I’m sure we’ll be revisiting it for consideration for best of 2014 come December, and its only February.  The “You’re Invited” documentary is an incredibly well done and good retrospective look at the movies.  This release also has the best photo gallery of any Scream Factory release to date as it provides an incredibly detailed look at the entire production of the film. You could almost piece a story together from the pictures.  And what really won me over was the Promo Reel and some of the trailers, which blasted me back to the past and made me feel like a kid again, I LOVED it!  Oh, and yeah, the film has a terrific audio and video presentation, too!  Book yourself a copy of this one now, folks! (The Witchboard release also makes for a great companion to this one, too!)


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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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