Release Date(s)1988 (October 23, 2018)
Studio(s)International Film Marketing (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A
While Night of the Demons wasn’t a giant box office success when it was originally released in 1988, it was subsequently a bigger hit on home video, spawning two sequels and legions of fans for years to come. Although it’s comparatively a straightforward tale about a group of wild teenagers getting together for a Halloween party and immediately being either possessed or slaughtered by demons, it’s a notch above most of its ilk with slick cinematography, genuinely creepy atmosphere, and a cast of mostly likable characters, which is something that many horror films throughout the 1980s seemed to have a genuinely difficult time pulling off.
The cast overall does a fine job with the material and seems to be having a good time, which is important because having a good time is what Night of the Demons is all about. It’s not a serious horror film and you’re not meant to take it seriously by any means, and the excellent animated opening titles let you know that right up front. Noted Scream Queen Linnea Quigley co-stars along with a group of talented actors, including Amelia Kinkade, who went on to participate in the sequels, and under the direction of Kevin Tenney, who also helmed two other memorable horror films from the 1980s: Witchboard and Witchtrap.
It’s also refreshing that the party takes place in a funeral home and not a haunted house or castle of some kind. It only enhances the film’s creepy and playful mood. Not to mention the great make-up effects by Steve Johnson, who did a number of different projects, big and small, for several decades. Above all else, Night of the Demons is a perennial Halloween watch. A great movie to throw on with a group of friends that lends itself plenty to an audience of people, it’s an entertaining romp, and one of the last truly classic horror films to come out of the 1980s.
Scream Factory’s new Steelbook Blu-ray release of Night of the Demons comes with a presentation sourced from a new 4K scan from the original uncut camera negative. While their previous transfer was good for its time, a fresh scan is always a welcome addition. It’s obviously better with more refined levels of grain, with a level of depth and detail that surpasses its Collector’s Edition counterpart. Blacks are good, although they tend to border on crush due to how dark the interiors were lit when they were originally photographed. The color palette is a little cooler, and skin tones appear natural. Everything is bright and well-defined without any signs of digital enhancement or manipulation. It’s also quite stable with next to no damage or debris leftover, appearing rather clean. For the audio, there are three options: English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD, as well as an additional English 2.0 DTS-HD track, all with optional subtitles in English SDH. The second 2.0 track seems to really fit the most. The original audio just doesn’t have a lot of life to it while the 5.1 track isn’t all that aggressive. The 5.1 track is also mostly front-heavy, with score and sound effects frequently taking a backseat. Both tracks have clear dialogue, but as an immersive experience, the 5.1 seems to be lacking. It’s a matter of preference, but with three tracks to choose from, there should be little worth complaining about.
Also for this release, all of the old extras from the previous Collector’s Edition release are carried over, plus a couple of new ones. There’s an audio commentary with director Kevin Tenney, actors Cathy Podewell, Billy Gallo, Hal Havins, and special make-up effects creator Steve Johnson; another audio commentary with Tenney, producer Jeff Geoffrey, and executive producer Walter Josten; a new audio commentary with Tenney, actors Linnea Quigley, Philip Tanzini, and casting director Tedra Gabriel; the You’re Invited: The Making of Night of the Demons 72-minute documentary; Amelia Kinkade, Protean, a 23-minute interview with the actress; the 4-minute Alison Barron’s Demon Memories; My Demon Nights, a 14-minute interview with Linnea Quigley (a new addition from the long out-of-print Anchor Bay DVD); the film’s theatrical trailer; its home video trailer; 3 TV spots; a radio spot; the film’s 4-minute promo reel; a behind-the-scenes gallery with 111 images; a special effects and make-up gallery with 103 images; another photo gallery with 101 images; and a posters and storyboards gallery with 15 images. All of this is housed in beautiful Steelbook packaging with new artwork that’s limited to 10,000 copies, so get one while you can.
There’s plenty to enjoy about Night of the Demons. It’s clever in how simple it is and how it does a lot with what little it has. It may have nostalgia on its side to some degree, but there’s more to it than that. It also helps that the folks who worked on it had a good time making it, which really comes through on-screen, as well as in the extras. Scream Factory’s double-dip on this title is definitely worth it if you’re a fan. Highly recommended.
– Tim Salmons