Night Of The Demons (2009) & Why Modern Horror Fails To Impress
When the original Night Of The Demons premiered in 1988 it was considered the best of B-Horror and created a franchise that lasted two sequels. It is still the only Kevin Tenney film that highlights his ongoing terrible reel – with possible exception to Witchboard made before Demons. The ’88 version gives us gore, bad acting, ridiculous scripting, and a non-sequitur ending. These were elements every 80’s slasher film wanted the perfect combination of. To remake a great trash film does not give you license to try to make it modern cinema. Adam Gierasch, the director of the updated version, does not provide his audience with anything more than a revamping over-sexualized depiction of a once innovative concept. Cineniche does not blame Gierasch, we believe he did the best with what the studio gave him. He is just another young filmmaker that wishes to create horror again – but unfortunately the American horror film is dying.
Here is where we’ve decided to rant on remakes again, though we all agree re-imaginings or remakes are all subpar these days, we’ve found a common thread running through most post Scream American horror. The problem we face today is not the censors since any film can be released on DVD with an uncut, unrated edition. We don’t even need significant budgets as shown in The Blair Witch Project (or other mockumentary horror) or Baghead – both films are considered great achievements in post-modern horror. What haunts great American cinema is the cancerous idea that all things must be explained. This is the most dominating problem in the realm of remakes and seeps into our ‘original’ horror as well. Sure some films are still made with a level of inventiveness such as Eli Roth’s oevre, but when horror audiences have to suffer through too many scenes of exposition it reduces our level of fear. Horror theory at the academic level uses Freud’s theory of The Uncanny to describe an audiences love of the horrific. What this means is that the unknown is the scariest thing humans can imagine – hence the overwhelming popularity of Blair Witch Project. When a screenwriter sits down to compose a horror film, he must know the backgrounds of his characters, where his threat came from, the motivations of the transpiring horror, but these are notes not pages of script. Lets take the Sawyer family from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, who where they? Why did they commit their crimes? The only reason we know the answers to any of these questions is by studying the film and contextualizing the narrative – from first viewing no one knows and thus it remains terrifying. The remake of Texas Chainsaw provides us with background into the now newly named Hewitt family and by doing so steals our ability to fully revel in our fear. The remake of Nightmare on Elm Street is probably the absolute best example of this ‘fear reduction,’ here we are going to tell you Freddy was a pedophile and we are going to explain how people can dream while awake through enough sleep deprivation. These boring bits of insight were absent from 70’s and 80’s horror. There used to be an etiquette with horror: The What-The-Fuck Moment, where something completely random would occur and thus destroy the rational part of the brain.
The original Night Of The Demons used this unrationalized fear tactic and it worked. Through ‘campfire’ type stories we learned a little about the crazy past of Hull House, but where did the demons come from? What were the demons? How did they infect? Who did they infect? If you were in the minority of the audience that wondered these things, well you just had to wait 21 years for a remake. Gierasch’s film isn’t all bad. The split second gore scenes are well composed, the Halloween themed heavy metal soundtrack is good, and the titillating scenes of hyper-sexualized demon orgies are a plus, but overall this should have remained the B film it was – not the straight to video terrible rendering of trashy classic.
Gierasch does do one thing right, he gives Linnea Quigley a cameo. She is wearing the same costume from the original and does the same bend-over tease she did back in 1988. If fans of horror don’t know Quigley, she was the next scream queen after Jamie Lee Curtis, only she liked to show it all. She normally played a slutty character that often died horrifically. Gierasch also plays out her infamous scene from the original where Quigley slowly slides lipstick down her chest, then draws a spiral around her breast and inserts the lipstick into her nipple never to be seen again. In Gierasch’s the lipstick is stuck inside the nipple not as delicately and is retrieved from the character’s vagina – interesting variation. Anyway Quigley’s best role was Return Of The Living Dead, but here are some of the other great films of hers: Graduation Day, Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Silent Night Deadly Night, Creepozoids, and Nightmare On Elm Street 4 (She was the big bosomed soul that emerges from Freddy’s Chest).
Night Of The Demons is a decent watch, even if you only see it for a bloated raspy voiced Edward Furlong or for Shannon Elizabeth’s latest paycheck. Just don’t expect anything more than just another terrible modern American horror remake.