This is ‘80s horror at its finest. It’s odd for me to come across horror fanatics who have either 1: not heard of this film or 2: were not particularly impacted by the film. It’s not a slasher or a mega-franchise (though there were a few sequels and an AWFUL attempt at a reboot). It is it’s own special piece of horror history. This movie has absolutely everything going for it: a stellar cast (including Linnea Quigley in her most-beloved role outside of Trash in Return of the Living Dead), a great concept (fun with demons as the film never takes itself too seriously), and great effects done with a small budget (Linnea Quigley’s famous lipstick breast scene is iconic) by Steve Johnson.
I personally own the steelbook Blu-ray collector’s edition of this film because I watch it all the time and I never have gotten tired of it since I first saw it in the late ‘80s. It’s a thing of beauty and pride in my collection.
The basic synopsis is that high school outcast Angela (Amelia Kincade, billed as Mimi Kincade) and her best friend Suzanne (Linnea Quigley) are throwing a Halloween party in an abandoned mortuary that is rumored to have evil spirits lurking on the property. Friends Stooge (scene-stealing Hal Havins), Helen (Allison Barron), and Rodger (Alvin Alexis) are excited for the party, along with Final Girl Judy (Cathy Podewell), her lecherous boyfriend Jay (Lance Fenton) and their couple-friends Max (Phillip Tanzini) and Frannie (Jill Terashita). In the meantime, Judy’s ex boyfriend Sal (Billy Gallo) manages to bribe Judy’s brother into finding out where Judy went for the night and that completes the list of teens that are “ready to party”
As with any party, there is drinking and dancing (with a great soundtrack). Eventually, the teens decide to have a séance with a large old mirror they find in the mortuary/house. Angela explains that the house is possessed, not haunted. The difference, she explains, is that a haunted house holds the spirits of humans that died while a possessed house holds the spirits of evil entities that have never existed in human form. Regardless, and in typical ‘80s teen horror fashion, they go ahead with the séance in the mirror. Helen looks up at the mirror first and sees the hideous face of a demon and then breaks the mirror in her hysteria. This releases the demons who first possess Suzanne. Suzanne has creative ways of passing around the demons (this is a must-see), almost as if infecting them with the evil spirits.
This film is filled with amazing moments that are truly iconic. The aforementioned “lipstick” scene, the great effects done on a shoestring budget, the very quoteable lines by the characters (especially Stooge), and a nice play on the ‘80s teen horror craze that is unique. It bears mentioning that the original title of the film was Halloween Party but it was dangerously close to John Carpenter’s Halloween franchise in sound, so the title was changed to Night of the Demons and I think that’s for the best. The animation sequence at the beginning is quite nicely done and by a Disney animator, to boot!
In closing, I can’t recommend this movie highly enough. With so many great moments and lines, it’s hard to pick a favorite scene in this film. Over the years, though, I’ve got to hand it to Amelia Kincade (a professional dancer) as Angela when she does the infamous demon dance to goth band Bauhaus’s “Stigmata Martyr”. It’s a real treat. This film has proven itself as one of the greatest ‘80s horror works through time and, if you haven’t seen the film, I urge you to do so. My horror podcast The House That Screams covered it early in our second season of the show and, I’m proud to say, it is our second-highest-rated episode so definitely give that a listen as we have a LOT of fun and even place bets on who can do Stooge’s iconic line the best!
🕷 Stay Spooky! 🕷
Candy “The Final Girl” Allison
You can find our Night of the Demons episode here: