Like that Stephen King story about the shipwrecked doctor who eats himself piece by piece, the horror movie remakes craze is getting to the point when you think there can’t be anything left to consume without fatal injury. There was an obvious commercial imperative to make over well-remembered titles like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead or Friday the 13th, but surely few were eagerly waiting for redos of Toolbox Murders (written by Adam Gierasch and Jace Anderson), April Fool’s Day or The House on Sorority Row. Gierasch and Anderson are back, with Gierasch directing as well as co-writing, for this remake of the 1988 Kevin S. Tenney film. The original Night of the Demons went straight to video in the UK, and is probably remembered only for a weird bit (expanded here) in which starlet Linnea Quigley shoves a lipstick into her nipple. Quigley gamely takes a cameo in a trick or treat sequence, reproducing her butt-waving-at-the-camera intro shot from the older movie, but Amelia Kinkade, who spun off demon goth girl Angela into a minor franchise (sequels in 1994 and 1997) isn’t summoned back (she now writes books about communicating with pets). The old movie was nothing special, and neither is this – but it’s a reasonable time-waster with kids stuck overnight in a haunted house on Halloween, persecuted by demons which possess their friends but don’t like rusty metal.
Angela Feld (Shannon Elizabeth) is no longer an outsider, but a rave-organising entrepreneur – the rest of the disposables include a slobbish drug dealer (Edward Furlong), with a debt to pay; his nice ex-girlfriend (Monica Keena), who is least sluttily dressed and most likely to survive; a couple of possessable bimbos in sexy cat costumes (Bobbi Sue Luther, Diora Baird); and the usual horny guys (John F. Beach, Michael Copon). After the big excessive costume party is shut down by the cops, these seven are stuck in ‘the old Broussard mansion’ overnight. They find seven skeletons in the basement, which prompt a couple of unwieldy ‘the old legend says …’ speeches from characters who fill in the backstory about a 1920s séance and explain that seven people need to be possessed to usher in an age of demon rule on Earth, but that besides rusty iron the symbols scrawled on a wall by a maid during the original crisis can ward off the creatures. Here, the girl who shoves the lipstick into her breast also produces it again from her vagina – demonstrating some advance in the field of demon-possession since 1988, and this movie’s commitment to gross-out humour/horror.
Eerie supernatural moments are in short supply, though a brief bit where the demons lure the survivors out from safety by faking sunrise (complete with twittering birds) is acceptable – mostly, the demon possessees continue the same type of wisecracks, insults and snarls they were prone too in their normal personae. The old movie, and especially the sequels, built up Angela as a horror star character – confusing, since the Sleepaway Camp franchise had an identically-named figurehead – but Elizabeth’s presence here is limited, and she doesn’t appear to take much of a lead among the other fang-mawed, floating, boo-shouting, face-shredding bogeys. Despite Angela’s speech about wanting this to be the wildest, most decadent party ever, she’s uptight about the presence of a drug dealer in the crowd – and the hijinx are fairly standard teens-on-a-bender grade, rather than something which might segue into deviltry (when stuck together, the young folks play spin the bottle kissing games like fourteen-year-olds rather than break out a ouija board). It’s okayish fun, but doesn’t make you eager for remakes of Creepozoids, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers or Sorority Babes in the Slime-Ball Bowl-a-Rama.