June 14, 2012

Night of the Demons (2009)

"A group of kids go to a Halloween party, only to have to face down a group of demons."

Okay, I've reached the end of my "Night of the Demons" week and I've saved the best until last. Ironically, since I'm not the biggest fan of remakes, this 2009 update was well worth enduring the torture of the original movies for.

The remake takes all the best elements from the trilogy (and the worst) but recreates them so slickly that it's actually rather brilliant in its accuracy. Of course, a lot of that is due to director Adam Gierasch and writer Jace Anderson, who both know their stuff and have an impressive list of credits behind them. Some of it is accidental or lucky too, but that's always the way with movies. There will never be a perfect movie, horror or otherwise.

Although Hull House is abandoned in favour of the Broussard Family Mansion in New Orleans, complete with an opening scene in the style of a silent movie (which gives a better backstory than any characters could with their own exposition), everything important from the previous movies is here.

In many ways, "Night of the Demons" isn't so much a remake as another sequel. Maybe it should be called a "semake" or "requel" even though neither of those is as catchy as the "premake" term which we all used for "The Thing".

Call me shallow, but what I enjoyed most was having all the "hot chicks" from the other films replaced with truly hot ones rather than the "girl next door" types who the nostalgic fanboys all rave over. The most beautiful modern horror actresses are all here including Monica Keena, Shannon Elizabeth, Bobbie Sue Luther and Diora Baird. I don't include the cameos by Linnea Quigley or Tiffany Shepis because neither of them does anything for me, but I'm sure they suit the tastes of others.

There's no cameo by the original Angela which is surprising but not really necessary anyway given that the new "Angela Feld" is a completely different character to "Angela Franklin". For those who like trivia, according to the IMDb, Amelia Kinkade is now some kind of literary "Doctor Doolittle" and loves cats. I can't fault her for either of those things, but as I've never found her very attractive or scary as Angela, I was pleased with the upgrade.

Having mentioned cats, seeing both Diora Bird and "Boobie" Sue Luther dressed as catgirls for Hallowe'en, really ups the eyecandy quotient for me. As much as I love Monica Keena, their costumes really upstage her. Their roles may be a bit two-dimensional, but at least they are played by real actresses with some current popularity rather than a bunch of wannabes or has-beens who were dragged in off the street only to disappear into obscurity again.

I'd also never realised just how beautiful Shannon Elizabeth really was until she was all Gothed-up and, should I ever do a top ten list of hot Goth girls in horror movies, she'll definitely be number one.

But enough about all that sexiness, what you really want to know about is why I thought this was such a good remake. As much as I would like to tell you everything, such a list would create so many spoilers that it would ruin the film for you. Instead, I'm just going to briefly describe some of the most outstanding points.

Just like the original and the second sequel, the story begins with a "home scene" of girls getting ready for a party. This also sort of ties in with part of the first sequel, but the setting there is obviously different.

I've already mentioned the cat costumes, That idea came, of course, from "Night of the Demons III". Angela in the remake also has a pet black cat which was reminiscent of the one from "Night of the Demons 2". Cats are very important to me, as you know, and I look out for such details.

Even more pleasing to me is that much more was made of the stupid lipstick trick from the original "Night of the Demons". I always thought it was completely random and out of place, but in the hands (and breast) of Diora Baird's character, it's reworked into something extremely gruesome, and as weird as her demonic sex scenes in the movie.

The faux-lesbian kissing scenes and other seductions are all done as expected, although a wine bottle replaced the pistol of the second sequel in a much hotter way. There's a lot more nudity and sex overall, but, hey, it's the 21st century now and that's exactly what we want! The gore, the scares, and the horror (especially the horror) take second place to the sleaziness, but on the plus side, at least this movie has a plot. In spite of some borderline "gratuitous fillers", it never appears to be making things up as it goes along.

I also noticed that the sets really looked the part. They hint at the disused funeral parlour of the first two movies, but it isn't the same place, and it feels like a real building this time. It's all much darker and creepier, and, as far as Hallowe'en parties go, it's the perfect setting.

Although the characters in the other movies are teenagers played by older actors, there isn't even any attempt to make the thirty-somethings in this appear any younger. They don't have to act all nasty and rebellious for the sake of their dialogue. What comes out of their mouths is often quite witty and endearing. I wasn't alienated by any of the main characters, and that's a very good thing. I even liked Edward Furlong's role!

Even though it keeps the uneven quality of the trilogy and goes for the light-hearted approach more often than outright horror, there are some great effects. Some of the goriest, weirdest and bloodiest effects that I've ever seen are made up of both practical effects and such nicely done CGI that it's hard to tell which is which. I expect, if really looked into, a lot of what I thought was CGI was actually practical (and vice-versa) except in some extremely obvious cases. I've been fooled before, and I'm not a "practical effects Nazi" anyway. As long as it looks good on screen, it's good enough for me.

I enjoyed "Night of the Demons" so much that it's going into "The Vault". If there's one movie which is typical of everything (and everyone) in the American horror movie industry from the first decade of the 21st century, this is the one.

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