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Hidden Horrors of Peacock: The Gruesome Fun of Night of the Demons
This month, we're taking a look back at another '80s genre classic full of gore and fun.
Welcome to Hidden Horrors of Peacock, a monthly column spotlighting off-the-beaten-path scary movies available to watch right now on NBCUniversal's streaming service. From cult classics to forgotten sequels to indie gems you've maybe never heard of, we've got you covered.
Last month on Hidden Horrors of Peacock, we discussed Chopping Mall, a 1980s film that latches on completely and unashamedly to the pop culture paradigms of its decade, and never looks back. This month, we're taking a look at another film that does much the same thing, albeit with a different setting and an entirely different horror threat. It's time to talk about Night of the Demons, one of the most wickedly fun films of its kind to emerge from the massive '80s horror landscape.
Like so many films before and since, Night of the Demons (now streaming on Peacock) starts with a simple, tried-and-true horror premise: A group of teenagers are trapped in a place where a supernatural threat is set to menace them. In this case, the film follows high school students –– led by actors like Cathy Podewell, Amelia Kinkade, and '80s scream queen Linnea Quigley –– as they head out to throw a party on Halloween night, full of booze and music and, of course, sex. But this isn't just an ordinary house party. No, these kids are determined to make their night as spooky as possible, so they're heading to the local haunted house, an abandoned funeral home with a legacy of bloodshed and depravity, where something ghostly just might dwell.
Why Now Is a Great Time to Revisit Night of the Demons, Now on Peacock
You can guess where this is going, right? The party starts, strange things start happening, and eventually the supernatural presences in the house –– demons, as the title suggests, not ghosts –– come out of the woodwork and start creeping into the bodies of the teenagers, setting off absolute mayhem in the film's back half.
Like so many 1980s horror films hoping to capitalize on various trends laid out by the hits of the era, there's something scrappy about Night of the Demons that makes it instantly endearing. From its animated opening sequence to its use of a single location to wring out maximum horror, it's the kind of film you just find yourself rooting for, particularly when the practical effects kick in and the gore starts popping. That's thanks in no small part to the cast, who each fill their stereotypical teen roles with a sense of energy that helps even out a somewhat bumpy script. Together they lend the film a certain tongue-in-cheek quality that's also evident in the way Kevin S. Tenney directs the action. It's one of those horror films that says "We're All Here to Have Fun," and that works in its favor from the start.
But that's not to say horror is absent from the proceedings. The demons of the title are out in force, and when they finally get their hooks into the party, there are moments of truly unsettling darkness to enjoy, from the way Tenney works his camera around the room like an unseen presence, Evil Dead-style, to the way the kids start to change into perversions of their former selves. It's a movie that's here to have fun, sure, but it's also not afraid to get its hands dirty, over and over again.
I'm hesitant to give away much more, because for all its predictable tropes and rhythms, there's something wonderfully unhinged about Night of the Demons, even if you've seen it more than once. It feels like the kind of movie where anything could happen, where things are threatening to explode out into gore and monstrous frights at any given second. That makes it fun the first time, but it also makes it the kind of movie you can rewatch again and again.
Night of the Demons is now streaming on Peacock.