In 1988 director Kevin S. Tenney, he of the Witchboard and Witchtrap movies, gave us Night of the Demons, with what seemed to be a clear-cut attempt at creating another horror franchise villain like Jason or Freddy by introducing the character of Angela (Amelia Kinkade) to fear fans everywhere. Apparently the flick did well enough over the next couple of years to warrant a sequel in 1994; this time the directorial reins were handed to Brit-by-way-of-Australia veteran Brian Trenchard-Smith (Dead-End Drive In, Escape 2000). With special FX maestro Steve Johnson returning, the ensuing sequel has been called superior to the original by many viewers. Is it?
Set a few years after the events of the first film, Night of the Demons 2 starts off with an ill-fated visit to Hull House, where Angela held the Halloween party that got so out of hand and left a pile of bodies behind. . .but not Angela's, and the rumor that she still haunts the house is pretty much solidified in the first few minutes, when two door-to-door Christians are butchered after unwisely agreeing to a slice of cake. Then we're on the campus of St. Rita's High School, a Catholic school for wayward and orphaned children, as the students and staff prepare for the annual Halloween dance. Sister Gloria (or "Gory" as the kids call her), uptight and forever brandishing a yardstick that she's not afraid to use, prepares to keep the children in line and save them from their devilish urges. Father Bob just wants everything to go smoothly and quietly with no headaches. Students like Bibi (Cristi Harris), Terri (Christine Taylor - yes, Marcia Brady and Ben Stiller's wife), Johhny (Johnny Moran) and Shirley (Zoe Trilling) just want to cut loose and raise hell, especially after they are grounded and barred from the dance. Other students have other issues on their minds - like Perry (Bobby Jacoby), who wants to prove that his theories regarding demonology aren't just a bunch of bullshit, and Mouse (Merle Kennedy), who wants to make friends with the other girls while hoping that they'll stop making fun of her and generally treating her like Carrie White.
So of course the kids sneak off campus to party at an old abandoned house. Of course queen bitch Shirley steals one of Perry's demonic textbooks to screw around with while there, invites the usual gang of interchangeable assholes, and for good measure she also makes sure that Mouse comes along against her will. Because - oh, that's right - Mouse actually happens to be Angela's younger sister Melissa, and is terrified of Hull House as well as the dreams she has where Angela rips part of her face off and munches down. But what's this? The house they're going to party at. . .is Hull House? That's right. Suffice it to say that kids wander off to have sex, there's unpleasant pranks pulled, and things get a little wacky before the kids are finally scared enough to go back to school; if Angela didn't follow them, there'd of course be no movie, so that's what we get.
This is not a great movie. At all. At its best, what it IS would be a good bad movie, if you know what I'm saying. The story is fairly rote and by the numbers. There is not much of a plot to speak of, save for Angela's need to sacrifice her sister because, well - okay, I never quite got that part. It's there, though, if you're into the idea of ritually slaughtering family members. The acting is amateurish, wooden, and as a whole belongs to the deer-in-the-headlights school of drama (save for Kinkade as Angela, who is perfectly acceptable yet never truly scary, and Jennifer Rhodes as Sister Gory seems fully aware of the stupidity she's surrounded by and plays her part more or less straight without ever taking it seriously, if that makes any sense). Okay, Christine Taylor is alright and doesn't do much to embarrass herself, except for the fact that she's created a situation where occasionally someone will bring up the fact that she was ever even in this flick. Cristi Harris gets high marks, however, for playing the nice, sweet girl and completely bypassing the whole "virginal" part of the usual equation, and for generally being absolutely gorgeous.
One of the major problems of this movie is that no one watches this kind of stuff for anything other than the usual ingredients such as lots of gore, perhaps a healthy dose of T & A, and - if we're lucky - some decent laughs. Well, aside from one brief (yet nicely done) and juicy sequence, ALL of the gore in this flick comes after the hour mark of a ninety-six minute movie. Granted, what we get then can be pretty cool and is certainly copious enough for the gorehound in your household (as if Steve Johnson would give us less-than-quality gore), but the wait is way, way too long. Regarding the nudity, yes - the 80's style of needless skin is present and accounted for. The jokes and humor? Oh, you'll definitely laugh while checking this flick out; whether or not you're laughing where the filmmakers want you to is another story entirely.
Getting back to the 80's comparison for a sec - it absolutely blows my mind that this was made in 1994. Everything about it screams Me Decade, and loudly enough to deafen you. I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that this was made immediately following the first and simply sat on a shelf for four years. The fashions, the hair (mullets!), the music, the look, all of it is 80's style through and through. Not that that's a bad thing, it just doesn't seem at all like anything from the nineties, and I assume that's due to the low budget.
Lionsgate has released this DVD in what could be charitably called "no-frills" while it could also be aptly called "bare-ass nothin'." The flick itself is full-frame and looks and sounds fairly okay - not too bad, but you can tell cleaning up the previous video release was not exactly a priority for them. There's a few trailers, for the likes of Bug (cool) and the foreign made Bloody Mallory (which looks goddamn absurd), and some others that didn't hang out in my memory.
Night of the Demons 2 can't really be called a success. It's unquestionably straightforward stupidity, and if this thing played in theaters back then, I'm shocked. However, there is a goofy little charm about it, mostly due to its unpretentiousness - it's (again) an 80's kind of endeavor and that's all it is. Sure, it makes no sense most of the time. Yeah, most of the "actors" present couldn't act their way out of a wet paper bag. Of course we're laughing at things we're not supposed to be laughing at. But that's what makes it a decent time-waster (and nothing more, mind you); you know exactly what you're going to get within fifteen minutes or so, and then the movie gives you just that. With a couple pals, a pizza, and some beer, you'll probably have a few good laughs. I will say this, though: if this is such a huge jump over the original - as I have heard - then the first flick must really fucking suck.