And so the remake trains rolls around yet again, with yet another cult classic 80's horror reinvented for a modern audience, who apparently don't mind seeing exactly the same story over and over, or who wouldn't bother to watch the first film anyway because people are wearing 80s fashions and listening to 80s music. This time it's “Night of the Demons” getting the remake treatment, courtesy of director Adam Gierasch, best known for co-scripting with wife Jace Anderson both Hooper's “Toolbox Murders” and Argento's “Mother of Tears”, and directing the so-so hospital horror “Autopsy”.
The set-up is subtly changed from the original, following a group of girls who head off to a Halloween party at a mansion in New Orleans, a mansion where one night 80 years ago 6 people mysteriously vanished and the owner hung herself. The party goes well – a little too well, because before long the police turn up and break it up, shutting and accidentally locking the only gate behind them, leaving just 7 people in the house and unable to leave the grounds. Early games of spin the bottle soon give way to terror, as they discover 6 corpses in the basement, and learn the story of the seven demons who were thrown out of Hell for trying to overthrow Satan, and who now need to possess human hosts before sunrise in order to take over the world. Or something.
In terms of the modern run of remakes, “Night of the Demons” doesn't hit the highs of “The Hills Have Eyes” or “Dawn of the Dead”. It is, however, considerably better than the likes of “The Fog”, and a noticeable step-up for director Gierasch from “Autopsy”. “Night of the Demons” is a fun, confident, unpretentious little film which has little on its mind except providing pure entertainment. In this it can be said to successfully capture the spirit of the first film, and whilst close enough to the original to be worth keeping the moniker, it doesn't follow it so closely scene-by-scene as to be pointless.
It starts stylishly, with a black and white silent sequence (complete with intertitles) providing an introduction to the backstory of the demons. From then on in, it's blaring punk rock, quick cuts, tits and gore. High art it most assuredly isn't, trashy b-movie escapism it is. Rather than try to scare with measured atmosphere, complex character beats or an involving and disturbing narrative, “Night of the Demons” is quite content to simply bash you round the head with a quick cut, loud noise and then get on with making the walls bleed. From Lamberto Bava's “Demons” through the original film to the likes of “The Convent”, this type of stuff has been done several times before, and whilst the remake brings little new to the party, it's sufficiently well-executed and pacey that it scarcely matters. Did I say little new? Well, it may replay the famous lipstick scene from the original, but it adds a new punchline which is certainly a moment to be remembered.
And well, it's difficult to know what else to say about the film. There's nothing really complex or original going on here, but it delivers exactly what it sets out to, and with more style and confidence than “Autopsy”. The cast do their jobs well, including Monica Keena (who I've had a bit of a soft spot for since “Freddy v Jason”) and Shannon Elizabeth, and even Edward Furlong pops up to wear a KD Lang shirt. Provided you open up to your inner 15-year old boy, it's a film that will put a big grin on your face whilst you watch, then pretty much disappear from your mind afterwards. It's a shallow, shamelessly trashy experience, but one which is solidly entertaining, and a rare remake which doesn't shame the memory of its progenitor.