Digi-Schlock: NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988) (Scream Factory Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack)

Though Darkman is probably the biggest of Scream Factory’s Feburary 2014 releases, they’ve also put in plenty of work on the Kevin Tenney films they released the same month.  Case in point: Night Of The Demons is a deluxe blu-ray/DVD set that offers an impressive array of extras old and new. This is a film with a strong cult audience and Scream Factory has really gone all-out to earn their favor with this release.

Things starts with a nice new transfer of the film.  The blu-ray was viewed for this review and it does well by a challenging film: the film takes place entirely at night, with much of it taking place in dimly-lit interiors.  Black levels are appropriately string and the colored lighting registers nicely.  The overall image is nice and sharp for a vintage low-budget production, thus offering a testament to how skillfully shot the film is.

The extras begin with two commentary tracks, one new and one old.  The new track features Kevin Tenney as leader/moderator and also features actors Cathy Podewell, William Gallo and Hal Havins plus FX maestro Steve Johnson.  Unlike a lot of group tracks, this one is as strong on information as it is on enthusiasm. Tenney takes the lead and delivers a lot of specifics on the tight schedule and technical details, including interesting breakdowns of how many different camera moves were achieved. Johnson covers the makeup FX info and adds some wry asides about “chemical” use that kept him going on the shoot.

NightOTD-bluThe actors supply fun comments specific to their experiences: Gallo has a funny/creepy tale about a run-in with a local during the shoot and Podewell’s reaction to her brief butt-baring scene is a hoot.  All in all, this track is strong on both info and entertainment, making it a fun listen for fans.

The other commentary track dates back to the old Anchor Bay DVD release and features Tenney along with producers Walter Jostyn and Jeff Geoffray.  Tenney repeated a lot of stories from this track on the newer one but this track is worthwhile for fans as it’s more subdued and analytical, looking at the movie from a film-biz perspective.  There’s a lot of praise for writer/producer Joe Augustyn’s script plus Tenney goes into detail on how the photography and production design enhanced the film.  The director also reveals that every scene shot for the film was used in the finished edit!

The heart of the extras is “You’re Invited,” a 71-minute retrospective from extras producer Aine Leicht.  Tenney, Augustyn, Johnson,  the producers, and most of the cast appear in this comprehensive piece, which covers the film from its inception through production and distribution, also offering the contributors’ thoughts on the film’s following.  The filmmakers are frank about their disagreements as the film came together, also revealing why the title was changed and a breakdown of script changes (usually implemented for budgetary reasons).  There’s even an in-depth account of the film’s impressive opening animated titles sequence.

The actors get plenty of room to share their memories once the piece moves into the production phase, with everyone having something to say about the creepy house location, the horrors of the “blue smoke” used for diffusion in the interiors and the physical rigors of the makeup (Kinkade and Linnea Quigley get the most screen time in this area).  On the latter note, Johnson is candid about the ego he invested in designing and enacting his effects – and he tells some great stories about how he fell for Quigley, whom he later married.  The latter stages of the segment offer some interesting stories of how the film was successfully self-distributed and promoted.  All in all, this is a consistently engaging and sharply-paced documentary, with Kinkade and Johnson being its biggest scene stealers.

Those entertained by the snippets of Kinkade in the documentary will be happy to see there is also a 22-minute interview piece devoted solely to her. A lot of this stuff is longer versions of clips used in the documentary but there are some interesting bits rescued from the cutting room floor, including more info on the rigors of the makeup she had to wear in the Demons films and her later career as an animal rights advocate.

Along similar lines is a brief piece called “Allison Barron’s Demon Memories,” a 4-minute segment where the actress narrates a series of behind-the-scenes shots she kept from the film’s shoot.  She covers a lot of ground in a short space, including the rigors of makeup and promoting the film during its theatrical release, and the selection of shots keeps it engaging.

The remainder of the extras are devoted to an extensive array of promotional material. For starters, there are no less than five types of coming attraction included here. The first is a theatrical trailer that starts in a comedic style and deftly shifts to horror, even managing to work in two topless shots(!). The t.v. spots are all edited down from the theatrical trailer: interestingly, they all use the same “the party’s just begun” dialogue in their tags.  A video trailer is cut differently from the theatrical spot and makes great use of the Bauhaus song used in the film’s dance sequence.  There’s even a radio spot that uses an amusing, faux-interview with patrons format and mentions the film’s infamous lipstick scene.

However, the most unique inclusion amongst the trailers is a promo reel aimed at video store owners.  It starts like a trailer but quickly works in review quotes and box office statistics before closing with a breakdown off all the promotional items that the distributor would make available to purchasers (everything from a Spanish-language version of the film to a standee with a glowing lights in its eyes!).

The last items in the promo materials area are a series of four still galleries that offer over 300 different images.  The behind the scenes gallery features many shots of the actors and crew at work, plus some interesting shots of the location sans visual effects trickery.  A makeup effects gallery not only shows photos of Johnson at work but also an array of continuity Polaroids and some design sketches.  Stills and publicity photos are captured in an area simply marked “photo gallery” while posters for both titles of the film and full-color storyboards get their own gallery.

In short, Scream’s dual-format edition of Night Of The Demons is a real everything-but-the-kitchen-sink affair that goes the extra mile for this cult favorite. Any fan of the film will want to pick up this upgrade.


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