Monday, October 10, 2011

Night of the Demons VS Night of the Demons.

I've been picking up a lot of movie/remake pairs lately, trying to understand the dynamic. Because there's nothing inherently inferior about someone new telling a story. The Muppet Christmas Carol is not by any means the first story of Ebenezer Scrooge, but it is easily my favourite. It brings a sense of irreverence to the story while still treating the dark moments and central message with respect.

And some people will disagree, but I also prefer Zack Snyder and James Gunn's remake of Dawn of the Dead to the original. I love George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, but I found his Dawn of the Dead sometimes a bit ponderous, and worse - boring. So, it's not just because these aren't the original that they're bad. Maybe it's because they're often sloppy and cheap cash grabs? But so many original horror movies are guilty of this, too. I guess those have the benefit of not being compared to an original version that already has a place in people's hearts, though.

creepy and fun

Night of the Demons(1988)/Night of the Demons (2010)

Night of the Demons is an interesting case, because I watched them both for the first time the same night. I loved the original, and thought the remake was idiotic. And on some levels that's not fair at all. These are both deeply stupid movies.

The original Night of the Demons has some of the worst acting and writing I've ever seen in a movie. There are exchanges in that first twenty minutes that are not just stupid, but actually grating, including a character who interacts exclusively through calling a girl a stupid bitch. And other characters seem to be walking info-dumps for the movie's rules. The final girl character is a simpering wimp who spends most of the movie locked in a room because she wouldn't put out. Even the actor who plays Angela is painful in these early scenes.

But everything changes once people start turning into demons. And I think it is because plot and dialogue go right out the window, and the special effects and weirdness take center stage. From this point on, the movie started to remind me of Evil Dead, and in the best possible way. The makeup effects were great and strange, and the director really understands the fun of the unexpected change. There are some truly bizarre scenes here that I don't want to ruin for anyone who hasn't seen the movie, but it really felt like the director had found his element. This is a movie with terrible writing and some really classic visuals and an amazing imagination.

And Angela. Oh man, Angela. The actor who played Angela seemed just as stilted as everyone else as a human, but really lets it all out as a demon, and it's so much fun to watch. It's like seeing someone find their true calling. It's beautiful and creepy and so so insane. I went from considering turning the movie off, to finding myself loving it once the demons become involved. I love the idea of evil teasing and taunting people, not just killing them.


The remake of Night of the Demons is every bit as badly written as the original, but this time it has some recognizable faces spouting the stilted stupid dialogue. Eddie Furlong and Shannon Elizabeth, specifically. But having just watched the original, I held out hope for when the demons made their appearance.

Shannon Elizabeth actually made a better human Angela than the original. She's only really got one register, which is "sexy." But she makes Angela seem like a person, at least, not an awkward robot. Once she becomes a demon, though, it becomes apparent that this movie has no sense of imagination OR fun. There's no playfulness to this Angela at all. And so she winds up not being as creepy, either.

One of the most famous weird scenes from the original makes its way into the remake, but of course they take a scene that was an almost charming mix of exploitation and insanity, and they make it more extreme by involving a bucket of blood and a vagina. In a lot of ways, this is a re-imagining of Night of the Demons. The story is much more thought out, and the rules feel more established. Characters have bits of back story, and relationships that make sense. But that's not enough to save the movie from its lack of imagination or fun.


  1. I can't speak to Night of the Demons, but definitely agreed on Dawn of the Dead. Directors aside, and maybe I'm biased, but I thought Sarah Polley gave her role a.. kind of dignity? that lacks in a lot of zombie movies.

    I think you're bang on with the cash grab comment.