Skip to main content
Movies

See also:

Blu-ray Review: 'Night of the Demons'

Amelia Kinkade in "Night of the Demons"
Amelia Kinkade in "Night of the Demons"
Yahoo Images

The Film:

After making a decent directorial debut with the campy horror-mystery “Witchboard,” Kevin Tenney opted to make something a little more straightforward for his sophomoric effort. It would be fair to say that “Night of the Demons” is Tenney’s attempt at what Roger Ebert used to call a “dead teenager movie,” where the premise is basically getting a bunch of teenagers together in a dangerous location (in this case, they gather for a party at an old funeral home that happens to be possessed) and have them get killed off one by one by someone or something (as you probably already figured out by the title, demons play a big part in their evening) until the group is whittled down to just a survivor or two fighting for their lives.

It’s a premise that has worked before, proven by the longevity of the “Friday the 13th” series, but unfortunately for “Night of the Demons,” it doesn’t work half so well. The film doesn’t even run a full 90 minutes, but you quickly get the sense that the filmmakers are struggling to stretch it out even that far. The best section of the film ends up being around the last 30 minutes or so, but to get there, you have to sit through an agonizingly dull hour of padded material that has everyone getting together at the house, partying, then splitting up and exploring. It’s only after that that the film feels like it starts to get a move on.

Now I’m not hailing the “Friday the 13th” franchise as a set of great movies (I enjoy them as guilty pleasures), but the filmmakers behind those knew how to do this kind of movie correctly. They never took that long to get their films started, plus they knew how to have fun with the material, an element that is missing from “Night of the Demons.” This ends up feeling like a really big missed opportunity given all the horror they could have squeezed into those first 60 minutes, instead of allowing them to be wasted in such a pointless manner. Perhaps things would have been different if Tenney had written the screenplay himself as he had for his first feature. Things had turned out fine there, but this time it sadly feels like they’re trying to take on a niche of horror that they just don’t know what to do with.

Video/Audio:

Shout! Factory brings “Night of the Demons” to Blu-ray in a 1.85:1, 1080p High Definition transfer that is superior to all previous versions. Before this release, the film always looked very dark and fuzzy, and while it is still a noticeably dark film, the fuzziness has been greatly reduced, giving the film the best picture quality since release. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio has also been enhanced considerably, particularly noticeable in the soundtrack (like “Witchboard,” it’s a highlight of the film). Again, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to deliver higher quality in either department.

Special Features:

The following extras are included on the disc:

  • New Commentary with Director Kevin Tenney and Actors Cathy Podewell, Hal Havins, Billy Gallo, and FX Artist Steve Johnson
  • Audio Commentary with Director Kevin Tenney, Executive Producer Walter Josten, and Producer Jeff Geoffray
  • You’re Invited – The Making of Night of the Demons
  • Interview with Amelia Kinkade
  • Allison Barrow’s Demon Memories
  • Behind the Scenes Gallery
  • Special Effects and Make Up
  • Photo Gallery
  • Posters and Storyboards
  • Theatrical Trailer, Video Trailer, TV and Radio Spots, and Promo Reel

As usual, Shout! Factory has gone all-out to provide a wide array of special features. Looking at the two commentaries, we find a situation very similar to “Witchboard,” where the track featuring the director and actors contains a few interesting tidbits, but tends to get distracted with the group joking around. However, the track featuring the director and producers stays focused on the making of the film, making it far more informative and once again makes it the track that is the better use of time.

Also in a very similar fashion, we are given an in-depth “Making of” featurette, this time running about 71 minutes, that includes thorough interviews with the cast and crew telling us everything about how the project began and going right up through its eventual release. It’s amazing to see such a low-budget horror film get such a great “Making of” featurette in an age when most big films don’t even bother including something similar, so it’s something that this release should be highly commended for.

Conclusion:

Despite a couple of really good extras and the best quality the film has ever had, this release of “Night of the Demons” is held back far too much by the film itself. I don’t think anyone watching a film with such a title is expecting a masterpiece of any kind, but rather they’re looking to be entertained by something they expect will most likely be a silly monster flick. Even going by lowered standards like that, those trying to make it through the film will more than likely be bored to death as they sit around for an hour and wait for something to happen to lift the film from its drudgery. When all is said and done, the best way to sum it up is as I’ve already said: a big missed opportunity.

Score: 2.5/5

Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.

Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Witchboard, Dallas Buyers Club, The Fifth Estate, Captain Phillips, You're Next, A Single Shot, Insidious: Chapter 2, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Elysium, The Hunt, Touchy Feely, The Rooftop, Drinking Buddies, Inpractical Jokers: Season One, Planes, Paranoia, The To Do List, Blackfish

Now playing in theaters: Labor Day, The Wolf of Wall Street, Her, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Dallas Buyers Club

Also be sure to check out my lists of the Best and Worst Films of 2013.

Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.