Night of the Demons 2 is quite a handful to attempt to review. I never would have expected to find the beginnings of the modern marriage between horror and comedy in a sequel to a movie that, while it is a cult classic, just doesn’t stand up to the test of time very well. But as I watched it, I could clearly see moments where the writing and directing was more than just a bit ahead of it’s time. Characters like the head nun at the Church school for troubled youths yearns for the old days when she could rap kids over the knuckles with her ruler are funny, if not easy targets. She even goes as far to practice with her ruler in her personal quarters as if she was fencing with an invisible sparring partner. Outside of the sometimes silly/ sometimes spot on stabs at those whose lives are solely based on their faith in the almighty sky cop, the gore gags and ever-so-slightly over the top persona’s of the aforementioned troubled youths are almost all played for laughs, with very realistic and timely underpinnings which speak volumes about what types of real-life people the characters in the film represent. It may not be as heady as I am making it out to be to the layman (in fact, I’m sure this was all accidental…a happy accident though, as Bob Ross would say), but these small touches, which may be just as much a byproduct of the viewer as the film makers themselves, add a lot to a flick that isn’t TRYING to send a messages, but in the process of avoiding it, maybe be doing a better job than many horror films that claim to have some sort of social relevance or poignancy. Of course, it’s got a plethora of tits (quality 90’s tits to boot, not the plastic looking things we get in horror nowadays), a deliberate but fun pace, and a final third that is filled with more practical effects than a carnival sideshow…and a lesbian demonic possession scene.
The tone and story of the films are set up rather quickly, and in impressively slick fashion I might add. The first scene sees to business looking types walking up to the long fabled “Hull House” with briefcases in hand. The initial thought for many watching will be “I wonder if someone actually owns this massive property, and these people are coming to claim it on their behalf or check the condition of the building.” Turns out, they are door to door religious spokespeople. Big fucking mistake coming to that house to preach your beliefs. Angela, of course, opens the door without actually being at the door, and slides in behind them with her now-patented “glide without touching the floor” maneuver. She offers them…wait for it…Devils’ food cake, and right as they begin to detect that something may be seriously awry in the house, she slashes them to pieces with the over sized knife she used to cut the cake, finishing it off by scraping some of the blood off the blade with her finger and licking it. Bless her heart. Amelia Kincade, who plays Angela just as she did in the first entry, is looking amazing in her role and appears to have even more command of her general menace that in the first volume. I liken her in these movies to Robert Englund as Freddy in the fact that she really has become Angela for me, and does it extremely well.
We are then moved over to establishing our band of teenagers who will be the focus of our story, and their experiences inside the school for kids who apparently are either too good or too bad for public education. The big “oh my no way!” casting moment is when you realize that Christine Taylor (married to Ben Stiller and featured in almost all of his recent movies in roles of various sizes) is in the movie. She, as well as everyone else, really deserve a pat on the back for bringing their A-game to the show here. The funny lines and comedy set-pieces are handled well above-par, and their are no performances that stand out as out of place or gut-wrenchingly bad. If my eyes do not deceive me, there is a serious throwback 1950’s-60s vibe going on with all the characters and the way they act and are portrayed (and schoolgirl outfits and belief-centric schools are very 1950’s), so much to the point that they are picked up in a heavily modified, but obviously old-timey looking car when they are departing to Hull House for their secret “party.” I was holding out hope that someone would say to one of the leading ladies that they had nice “gams” or say that the party sounded like a “boss” idea. The showstopper is Jennifer Rhodes performance as “super-strict religious bitch turned demon killer extraordinaire.” Many of you will know Jennifer Rhodes from being on just about every TV show in the last 30 years, from Charmed to Matlock, and also starring in Heathers and Slumber Party Massacre II. Her performance is memorable in a flick already filled with some easily remembered and fun performances. Good stuff.
Shifting focus away from those in front of the camera, the directing of Brian Trenchard-Smith plays out like an answer to all my issues with the original Night of the Demons (reviewed here). The pace is amped up considerably, and the false starts that crippled my enjoyment of the first flick are kept to a bare minimum in this sequel. The production value is much higher (a side-effect of the 6 or so years between films most likely), and the gore is not only more abundant than in the first, but of a higher grade. Smith (who also directed some episodes of the 1980’s Missions Impossible TV show AND Leprechauns 3!) knows how to make the last 30-45 minutes of a horror film live up to the check written in the first hour or so. We get some terrific kills, gore gags that are not only pretty gnarly to look at, but are also laugh out loud funny, and not one, but two full of fights with the “end of level boss” of this title, Angela, with the second seeing her adopt a snake-ish, Clash of the Titans Medusa like form which just about brought me to my knees in a fit of pure fan boy joy. The music and score selections and creations are fine, but odds are nothing will bounce out at you and send you on a mp3 hunt online. That being said, aurally, this film is anything but weak, as well as anything but a standout. Cutting back to Smith though, his directorial style in Night of the Demons 2 can be described aptly as rewarding. A red herring or two are carried over from the first film, which is nice for those who have watched it and remember it pretty well, and the build up, as entertaining as it is, is really demolished, in a GOOD way, by just how incredibly energetic, irreverent, and blisteringly delightful that third act is. When was the last time a movie had…
- An ample amount of top shelf racks sans implants and eating disorders.
- A nun who practices fencing with her ruler as a substitute for actually being able to whack her students with it.
- Exploding bodies, body melting, decapitations, breast that turns into arms and kill a man, lipstick capable of killing people, and other wild slayings.
- Lesbian kissing as a method of demonic possession.
- Water guns and water balloons filled with holy water.
- Disembodied demon-hand crotch-groping followed by a middle finger (see picture below).
- Half-Snake, Half-Demoness evil lady person.
- Door to door religious advocates being killed within 2 minutes of the movie starting.
- Lesbian kiss…wait did I mention that already? What about the boobs? Oh, I got both already. Damn
- Gore gags and blasphemy played for laughs.
- A severed demon head in a toilet that talks and serves as a really creepy boo scare.
Yeah, I thought so.
Night of the Demons 2 is a gem among gems, a man among men, and everything that Night of the Demons 1 was ever so close to becoming, but for whatever reason, fell just short of. From the word go, Smith and company do everything to make sure that the fun train doesn’t come to a halt, and just when you think the bag of tricks is running low, or the tricks themselves are getting stale, Smith propels the flick into the stars, unleashing a cavalcade of humor, violence, gore, and political incorrectness. If it weren’t 4am when I finished watching this movie, I would have stood up and fucking applauded. Color me satisfied.