MOVIE REVIEW: Night of the Demon (1980)

By Dixielord

NOTD

Night of the Demon is a 1980 entry into the Bigfoot horror sub genre. It also has the honor of belonging to the group of films collectively known as the “video nasties”. The video nasties were a group of films banned by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) for release in Britain. Most of the videos were banned due to excessive violence and gore, and for just being nasty. Night of the Demon fits that last part very well it is a very mean and nasty movie.

This isn't the 1957 demonic horror movie, nor the 1988 film that helped make Linnea Quigley into a horror superstar. While both of those are good movies and the 88 film definitely has its share of gore and disturbing imagery (lipstick anyone?), neither of them comes close to the nastiness of Night of the Demon. The other two films win out in a comparison of technical virtue, hell there really isn’t any competition, but Night of the Demon wins in any contest of sheer depravity.

Night of the Demon concerns a professor who leads a group of students into the woods with the stated purpose of debunking the Bigfoot myth. It is told in flashback by the professor who is severely disfigured and in a hospital at the beginning of the film. As they search for proof the professor tells his group tales of people killed and savaged by Bigfoot. These stories include the film's most infamous scene, where Bigfoot manually emasculates a biker who picked the wrong spot to stop for a pee. The tales also include a bizarre, and almost comical scene where Bigfoot kills two young girls. Once in the woods they hear stories of a strange cult active in the back woods that might worship Sasquatch. They also hear about Crazy Wanda who had a run in with the Demon and lived to tell the tale. At first skeptical, as they dig deeper, and encounter more evidence, they suddenly find themselves stalked by Bigfoot. The students are attacked and find their only means of escape cut off. They take shelter at Crazy Wanda's cabin, where they learn the horrible secret of Bigfoot and face the monster in a bloody showdown that leads us back to where we started.

Based solely on it's technical merits, Night of the Demon isn't a film I would recommend to anyone. The effects are just short of laughable, with fake looking blood and body parts to a shaggy Bigfoot suit that looks like what it is, a man in a shaggy Bigfoot suit. The story line goes from serious depravity to scenes that make you wonder if the director is playing it for laughs. The one scene where Bigfoot forces to young girls to stab each other to death with their own knives is just so unbelievable it looks like it shouldn’t be in this film. It looks more like a Three Stooges gag gone too far than a serious scene in a horror movie.

The movie has a grainy cheap feel to it that actually helps it out a bit, reminding me of my old days of watching horror movies late at night on a snowy screen. The copy I viewed from Amazon, it's a but hard to find on DVD, was not a great transfer with lots of noise and the occasional vertical roll. The pacing is almost painfully slow up until the final battle royal, which is shown in slow motion. With the slow motion and the lighting of the cabin, it projects an almost dreamlike, ethereal feel. The acting is amateurish, ranging from deadpan unemotional delivery to overly dramatic at times. Overall the movie looks like a no budget film from a beginning director with not a lot of talent.

With all that said, I find myself liking this Night of the Demon more and more with each viewing. I'm not even sure why. The Bigfoot, while not a horror staple has always terrified me. I remember being frightened by Charles B. Pierce's The Legend of Boggy Creek as a kid, and was always convinced we had a Sasquatch living in our bottom-lands. Growing up I probably did more research and reading about the creature than any other horror subject, with the possible exception of vampires. At some point I came to accept that logically Bigfoot, like Santa, couldn’t exist. But late at night, alone on a dark road, or reading a report of a Sasquatch siting, I still get chills. Reading my own draft of a Bigfoot fiction I am-trying to write gives me chills. So maybe this fear of Bigfoot makes me like Night of the Demon just a bit more than I should.

So I mentioned earlier I can't recommend this on it's technical merits. This isn't a good film. It's not even a so bad it's good film. Now that's not to say there aren’t a couple good things about it, there are some extremely disturbing scenes, some so ridiculous you have to see them scenes, and the creature at times is actually creepy. Add that to a somewhat dreamlike atmosphere and look makes it watchable especially for fans of exploitation and horror films.

But the main reason I would recommend this Night of the Demon to anyone, is that it is a legitimately mean and nasty piece of horror cinema. It fits in perfectly with films like The Last House on the Left, I Spit on Your Grave, and The Hills Have Eyes.

Film makers today don’t know how to make a mean film. They can say it's “more extreme” than the original like they did with the remake of I Spit on Your Grave, but they really don’t know what extreme means. Night of the Demon is a extreme film. It's a mean, no remorse, brutal FUCK YOU movie. This Bigfoot doesn’t just kill you, he makes you suffer. This Bigfoot will rip your dick off, then let you wander off to die slowly, instead of ripping you apart. This Bigfoot will hold you on a hot stove till your face burns off then leave you there. This Bigfoot will rip your intestines out then beat your friends with them. Some people may look at that and think, “Wow that's stupid.” I look at it and say, “That Bigfoot is one mean motherfucker and he doesn't give a shit.” This Bigfoot doesn’t want to kill you he wants to make you suffer.

Of course there is a reason why the Sasquatch is so pissed off in Night of the Demon. I'm not going to spoil that for you though. The secret is brutal, but this is a brutal film. Night of the Demon is a legitimate no holds barred video nasty. It might not be as technically well done as some of the others, but it holds up where it counts.

Night of the Demon isn’t a movie for your granny, unless she is a real sick old lady. It's not for the kids, although honestly I think my preteen nephews would laugh at a lot of the kills due to the shitty effects. Last but not least it is not a movie for the stick up the ass elite movie goer. But if you are a fan of the sick and twisted films of the mid seventies and early eighties, it is a must see. I cant guarantee you will like it, but I do guarantee you will ask, “What the fuck?” at least once.

Posted by Allen Alberson

2 comments

Great appraisal. It is really refreshing to see somebody representing the old forgotten classics and you are spot-on with your affectionate analysis. Moreover, you have a very engaging writing style and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Many thanks Dixielord.

Allen Alberson

Thanks for the compliment, I love he old obscure neglected horror films and just hope I can shed some light on them

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