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The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest IV

Hell Plaza Oktoberfest IV

Adam Jahnke - Main Page

Night of the Demons (DVD)

Night of the Demons
2009 (2010) - E1 Entertainment
Released on DVD on October 19th, 2010

Every year, I try to include at least one movie in Oktoberfest that specifically relates to Halloween. This isn't as easy as you might think. Once you move past the Michael Myers saga, horror movies that are actually set on the holiday are few and far between. Last year, Halloween fans got a special treat with the release of Michael Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat, one of the most entertaining horror flicks in many a moon. I was hoping lightning would strike twice when Adam Gierasch's Night of the Demons showed up at my door but unfortunately, this one's a bit more like poor old Charlie Brown getting a rock in his trick or treat bag.

The movie is a remake of a fondly remembered 1988 fright-fest. Personally, I fondly remember the original's VHS cover art but somehow never managed to watch the movie itself, so I have no basis of comparison for this one. Here, Shannon Elizabeth stars as Angela, hostess of a bacchanalian Halloween party in a sprawling New Orleans mansion that some say is haunted (I'm guessing most New Orleans mansions are haunted but that's just me). The cops show up to shut things down, driving everyone away except for half a dozen friends, including Edward Furlong as a drug-dealing lowlife. They find themselves locked in, trapped by seven demons who need to possess seven bodies before the night is through so they can bring about the end of the world. To defeat them, just stay alive until dawn.

Adam Gierasch is obviously a horror fan who knows his stuff and he includes a few clever ideas here, including a cameo by Linnea Quigley and a too-brief appearance by my old friend Tiffany Shepis. The demons themselves look good and there's some cool stuff with the monsters messing with the heads of their prey. But the good ideas are outnumbered by clumsy execution. Whenever the screenplay needs some exposition, the movie comes to a screeching halt. You could forgive it once but this happens at least three times. The movie might also have been more exciting if the police hadn't chased off all the extras early on. After the party is shut down, we're stuck with a group of people we don't really like or care what happens to (the sole exception is John F. Beach, who conveys an easy charm and likeability). There's no real way to defeat the monsters other than waiting them out, which doesn't make for particularly compelling footage. The human characters aren't smart enough to figure a way out of their situation and the demons don't seem to realize they're working against a deadline until the eleventh hour, so the entire second half of the movie quickly becomes tedious.

E1 has released Night of the Demons on both DVD and Blu-ray. While I can't vouch for the high-def version, the DVD's image is grainy and a little hot. The cinematography by Yaron Levy is actually quite good but the transfer makes the movie seem a little bit cheaper than it probably was. The 5.1 audio is pretty good and I certainly enjoyed hearing Concrete Blonde's "Bloodletting", one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands, used to good effect. Extras include an 18-minute featurette called Behind the Bloodshed (mistitled Behind the Bloodbath on the menu and package art). It's an EPK-style doc with on-set interviews from the director and stars. Gierasch and co-writer Jace Anderson recorded an introduction on the floor of this year's San Diego Comic-Con, which feels like it was a last-minute idea. You also get the trailer and an audio commentary by Gierasch and Anderson with stars Monica Keena, Bobbi Sue Luther and John F. Beach. This is a textbook example of why you shouldn't have too many participants on a commentary track. Gierasch and Anderson make a few salient observations here and there but for the most part, this is 93 minutes of giggling, talking over each other, applause and goofiness. Probably a lot of fun if you're in the booth, considerably less fun on the other end.

I really wanted to enjoy Night of the Demons and I'm disappointed that the movie didn't work. Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson are well-liked fixtures in the close-knit horror community and they certainly seem like cool, wonderful people. Unfortunately, they seem like they'd be much more fun to hang out with than any of the characters in Night of the Demons. Maybe next time they'll put a bit more of themselves into their work.

Film Rating: C-
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/B/C-

Adam Jahnke

Adam Jahnke - Main Page
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