Night of the Demon Review

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How many Night of the Demon(s) movies are there? We’re all familiar with the 1988 film Night of the Demons and it’s sequel, Night of the Demons 2. There is a also a 1957 British monster movie Night of the Demon, but I’m talking about the 1980 killer Sasquatch flick with the same name. You think that may be confusing? And I have to ask, why call it that? They could have easily called it Night of the Sasquatch, but oh, maybe that would have been convenient. On a plus side, this is one of those infamous video nasties, although it seems to go unnoticed, even by a good majority of horror fans.

Like most good Sasquatch movies, this one is told in flashback form and I know the Charles B. Pierce classic Legend of Boggy Creek II comes to mind, but remember Chuck’s ’squatch flick came 5 years later! Come to think of it, both are fairly (and suspiciously) similar at moments, although Legend of Boggy Creek II is far less violent… and features far too many characters wearing upsettingly short shorts.

The movie opens with Dr. Nugent, laying in a hospital bed, sadly not from cat scratch fever. Apparently that’s not a real thing, but his face, however, is covered from the mouth down as it seems to have been scorched off in a battle with the monster. But for a guy with no lips and first degree burns all over the bottom half of his face, he seems to be talking just fine about the Sasquatch deep in the woods that killed everyone and attacked him. So, we jump into the flashback machine and watch an old man get his arm ripped off. The point? To bring in his daughter, seeking the help of Dr. Nugent and the rest of his anthropology class. Now the plot gets rolling and they set out into the woods to find some answers, but it’s more like the answer finds them. Like a blood soaked Scooby Doo episode, the gang heads into town and questions the inhabitants to find the Sas’ and some woman being called Crazy Wanda, but they uncover a whole lot more.

Believe it or not, there is a lot going on in Night of the Demon than one would think. It doesn’t come across as convoluted, but rather magnetic. When the cast isn’t standing around in flannels spilling exposition, Dr. Nugent tells the class the legends of the creature and we get to witness the full blown red carnage. Most infamously, a biker stops at the side or the road to pee and has his dong ripped off! The camera does not shy away from this effect and will leave you groaning in pain as his newly opened wound spews blood like a garden hose. There are also some rather… silly tales, as one camper is twirled around in his sleeping bag, tossed like a bean bag and impaled on a tree branch. Sasquatch must’ve been Jason’s trainer for the sleeping bag scene in Friday the 13th Part VII! Another is when two Girl Scouts (who look a little too old to be in Girl Scouts) are for whatever reason packing knives, so clever ‘Sas grabs their arms and makes them stab each other. I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘”Why don’t they just drop the knives?” Because then we wouldn’t have that scene, that’s why.

I have to mention the subplot involving a cult. Yes, this movie has about everything, so why not add a cult? About the middle of the flick, the gang interrupts what looks like a cult about to rape a woman. They later find that woman was Crazy Wanda, who they had been searching for. After some hypnotizing (apparently anthropologists need a hobby), they get Crazy Wanda to tell them about the cult and her past, but not why she doesn’t appear to have showered in some time. You see, years ago Wanda’s crazy dad use to beat her after she was raped by Sasquatch and had his mongoloid baby. In fear that her father may kill the baby and the baby-daddy, she sets her father on fire. And you thought the girls on Teen Mom had daddy issues.

Night of the Demon does have a surreal, spasmodic vibe to it, with the stories that Dr. Nugent tells feeling like a misplaced puzzle piece anthology of sorts. When Sasquatch is stalking his prey, rather than your usual wide POV shots, the camera adds a red vignette to the screen, leaving you feeling as if you are in danger. It could almost feel unsettling and along with the biker’s johnson getting ripped off, there was a disemboweling scene that landed this movie on the Video Nasty list. Yeah, you can show a young woman get raped by Sasquatch, but some dude’s willy gets yanked off… that is just too much, sir! And if that’s not enough, the lighting of the film is notably very Dario Argento-esque, accompanied by unnerving howling ambiance and the music almost sounds like simple synth, like it was lifted out of Don’t Go in the Woods or The Forest. This isn’t to say it doesn’t have the flaws you would expect from this kind of film, such as acting more stale than three year old Cheerios and questionable editing at times. I also remember them mentioning a preacher who had killed himself because he saw the Devil existed after seeing the spawn of Crazy Wanda and Sasquatch. I have to ask, if you’ve accepted and believe in God, doesn’t that mean you also believe that the Devil exists (after all, believing in one is acknowledging the other exists)? Then again, what do I know? I’m a Scientologist.

It’s an overlooked and possibly even unknown gem. I completely forgot about this film, until I saw it at a yard sale for a quarter (best damn quarter I’ve spent). Nobody seems to mention it, then one day you bring it up and then their reaction resembles something like, “THAT movie… Oh yeah… it’s awesome!” So, see the legend everyone seems to be keeping quiet about. Just make sure you pee before.

Did you hear the legend of The Lost Highway?

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