Night of the Demon (1980)
The ultimate horror has been conceived during the...
Year of Release: 1980
Running Time: 92 minutes (1:32)
Director: James C. Wasson
Michael Cutt ... Prof. Nugent
Melanie Graham ... Wanda
Shane Dixon ... Monster
The legendary Bigfoot creature proves to be no legend to a group of anthropology students doing fieldwork in the remote stretches of the Pacific Northwest.
The students uncover evidence that the fearful creature raped a mountain girl and begat a half-human, half-monster offspring. They also stumble upon a cult of demonic worshipers who revere the Bigfoot entity and who eagerly await the birth of their creature's mutant progeny.
After a confrontation with the cult, the students' only means of escape is destroyed and one by one they become the victims of the creature's horrifying and bloody wrath.
Night of the Demon, remindin' us that Bigfoot may not be much of a romantic, but he's faithful as an old huntin' dog, an more devoted than a hopeless weenie trapped in the friend zone. If he'd just work on his openin' lines now an then instead of jumpin' straight to the... well, jumpin', he'd prolly be fendin' off lady campers with that pointy stick Grisly Adams uses to gore teenagers in Don't Go in the Woods. But speakin' of contact sports, our yearly Easter egg hunt ended sunny side down with a side order of sacrilege, an now Reverend Dollarhide's gone an declared a state of eclergency after some heretic went an printed up a whole buncha fraudulent Jesus Bucks. I'm sure most of you already understand the seriousness of this situation, but for you sinners out there who might not know; Jesus Bucks are the currency packed into plastic Easter eggs by old women who wait around all day hopin' to pinch little kids' cheeks before gettin' depressed about how their own children never call 'em. I wasn't personally in attendance, but I heard from Skunky Hernandez that they had all kinda stuff for the kids to buy with these Jesus Bucks, from' toy pistols that fire out a scroll with the 10 Commandments on 'em when you pull the trigger, all the way up to a Christly Power Wheel with optional Jesus copilot. He was explainin' all about it while showin' me this "Birth of Jesus" flip book one of his grandkids got that depicts Jesus gettin' plopped out into a pile of straw in the manger. Which I thought was pretty educational by church standards, since you can actually see Mary throwin' wild punches at Joseph an bitin' 'er tongue to hold back all the curse words. But anyhow, some unscrupulous person went an spoiled everything by attemptin' to exploit our lord an savior for financial gain, an they woulda gotten away with it too if it hadn't been for the fact that they tried producin' the fraudulent bills from an early draft that featured Mary Magdalene beatin' the tar outta Judas with 'er purse after Jesus'd gotten boarded up. Apparently the powers that be decided to replace that pattern with one of Herod an his drinkin' buddies gathered around the cross chuggin' tankards of the J-man's blood, since that seemed a little more in line with the Old Testament. In any event, Dollarhide is P.O.'d, an just about anyplace else it'd be pretty easy to find out who was responsible, but around here half the county's related in some way or another, so we may never know who destroyed the true meanin' of Easter. It's a real bummer for the kids, cause now all the best churchandise's been seized an most of the little monsters hadda go home empty-handed. I hope they catch whoever did this an make 'em actually follow the rules of the Bible until they crack. Remind 'em this ain't a religion that you can buy your way to the top of unless you're dealin' with a congressman, ya know?
This woulda never happened if we'd had Bigfoot presidin' over the egg hunt. No sir, he'da taken one look at that funny money an started tearin' off scalps until he got some answers. Bigfoot classic, I mean. After Harry and the Hendersons, Bigfoot kinda got a bad rap an now everybody tends to forget how angry an limb snappy he can be if people start doin' things like fornicatin' in his woods or takin' a leak in his flower bed. Legend of Boggy Creek was what really started it. Chuck Pierce tried overhaulin' his image an now people think he's just a big hairy joke like Robin Williams, an that's why I'd like to take a moment to remind everybody what a terror his Squatchiness can be when you've got the right man behind the camera. First thing you aughta know, is that when you take a gaggle of chunkheaded kids into the woods on a track-findin' expedition, you'd better include a Bigfoot assault clause in your field trip permission slip. Otherwise just gettin' your face ripped off by the rape ape is gonna be the least of your worries. Second, if you're ever out in the woods with a friend brandishin' kitchen knives for no apparent reason (an don't say it'll never happen), Bigfoot's intense animal magnetism will literally make it impossible to release said kitchenware, an you'll prolly end up stabbin' each other to death while he rams your heads together like a set of cymbals in the hands of one of his distant stuffed relatives. An third, God can't be everywhere at once, so maybe don't go murderin' your daughter's Jack Missin' Link's baby an expect 'im to save your bumpkin behind when she locks you in the barn an hickory smokes you like a batch of elk jerky.
But what really grabbed me by the gondolas an made me revise my outlook on life after sittin' through this one was the fact that I think I'm comin' around to see Bernie Sanders' way of thinkin'. I know, it's blasphemy an all that, but Night of the Demon really brings into perspective the need for higher education among America's youth. Just hear me out on this, an if you wanna come by an burn the house down later I'll understand. Now, this movie "stars" a buncha college kids an their professor who're all dumber'n a sack of horseshoes, who decide to go prancin' around the woods in an area where approximately 47 people've had various pieces of their anatomies ripped off an used for back scratchers by the Satch-Man. This doesn't bother 'em one bit though, so they go trekkin' after 'im an never once think to turn back even after watchin' his torch wieldin' Abominable Snowminions try sacrificin' folks in his honor. Nor does this thought occur to 'em after havin' their boat stolen, nor after gettin' their backstraps torn open while rootin' around in a sleepin' bag, nor even when one of 'em gets his brain permanently embedded in a tree trunk. Which is no easy task, cause Bigfoot hadda have a master's degree in anatomy to even FIND the brain in that particular skull, but does this concern anyone? Nah. If IQs were pocket change, these people wouldn't have enough cents to buy a piece of Bazooka Joe bubble gum. An these're people who've actually made it to college, so you can imagine what the kids who never passed their remedial P.E. classes are gonna contribute to society. Matter of fact, I don't think Bernie's plan goes far enough, cause the professor's right out there with 'em on this half-manhunt, an he ends up with his face lookin' like a pork chop that got left on the barbecue over Memorial Day weekend. I dunno about anyone else, but I sure's heck don't wanna hafta depend on these turkeys to pay my social security, cause we're talkin' Purina Cat Chow for breakfast, lunch, an dinner at this rate. So I say we'd better start gettin' as many kids into college as possible, specially the real stupid ones. At least maybe we can get 'em educated enough to deliver mail or work in the phone sex industry, ya know, SOMETHING.
The movie begins in the director's spare bedroom made up to look like a hospital, where this guy (Professor Nugent) is layin' in bed with a white cloth over the bottom half of his face like a KKK ninja, cause something out in the woods ripped off his jowls for tryin' to pull off the Smokey and the Bandit mustache when everybody knows only Burt Reynolds can make it work. The Nuge is tryin' to convince the doctor an the P.I. that the stories about the demon hauntin' the woods are true an that he didn't just stuff his face into a meat grinder to get outta teachin' his fifth period Home-Ec class. But they don't believe 'im, so he hasta tell 'em the entire story of why he's gonna hafta wear a metal face mask like Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the rest of his life. So we flashback to the Nuge turnin' his anthropology class over to this gal whose Pa got his arm ripped outta the socket by ole bushy tushy for use as a fishin' pole holder, an she shows 'em this Bigfoot snuff film that ends about like the found footage in Cannibal Holocaust. Then she tells 'em a story about this guy who was boffin' Peggy Bundy out in the woods in his pedo-van, when all the sudden the Satch-Man cometh outta nowhere, yanks the guy outta the van, rips open his chest cavity, an slides 'im down the windshield til his nipples freeze. Either the editor accidentally reversed the sex noises with the mutilation noises when he was piecin' this thing together, or things were about to get a whole lot kinkier. Anyway, the next mornin', the Nuge takes his babes into the woods to try talkin' to some old hermit with Ric Flair hair, only the guy don't wanna let 'em inside cause it's been about 26 years since he swept up the pack rat droppins. Their solution is to set up a hippy tent commune on the angry, armed man's lawn until he either agrees to tell 'em about Bigfoot, or kills 'em all an hangs 'em upside-down in his barn like Ed Gein. Meanwhile, ole hairy hinder's headed out to his outhouse with the sports section under one arm an a portable TV under the other, when he finds some slacker still asleep at 3 in the PM an decides to pick 'im up in his sleepin' bag an swing the sombitch around his head like a lasso before lettin' 'im loose an impalin' 'im on an old slash pile. Later that night, one of the know-it-all college kids (Roy) goes up to the hermit's door to offer 'im some hooch, an pretty quick the guy opens up faster'n a hipster's wallet on new iPhone day. So Roy takes all the backwoods dish back to the group an repeats the guy's stories about "Crazy Wanda," who's been livin' out in the boonies since the McCarthy Hearings hidin' from the National Enquirer creeps on account of 'er givin' birth to an evil Chewbacca baby. Apparently, Wanda's Dad killed 'imself after noticin' the similarities between 'er pregnancy an the events of Rosemary's Baby, an all his followers decided to turn heel an start worshippin' ole Scratchycrotch.
Then the Nuge tells 'em another story about some dirt biker who looked like a homeless Mark Hamill pullin' his bike offa this cow track to let the force out, only when he unzips Yowie Ming shows up an yanks off the guy's crankshaft. But once everybody goes to bag, Nuge an Roy start hearin' somethin' that sounds like a Ted Cruz rally, an find a buncha crazies gathered around some broad who's about to get 'er groceries gooped by Daniel Goon, an that gets 'em so P.O.'d that they hafta fire a buncha shots into the air an set the forest on fire to break up the Manson family reunion. Then things really start to circle the ole toilet when they wake up the next mornin' an find their boat missin', only nobody really cares cause they find this big toeless footprint that proves Bigfoot stole their Bass Tracker an that he wears Georgia boots. So naturally, havin' just proved that Scruffy Von Killsalot ain't just a legend, two of the kids (Gary an Linda) go off by themselves to get romantic on toppa some pine cones an quartz deposits, an the guy ends up gettin' a much gnarlier set of claws dug into his back than he was expectin' when Big Stanky shows up to remind 'im that only he can prevent crotch fires. Normal folks'd prolly get the hint about now that maybe Hairy Mathers don't want 'em screwin' around in his woods, but we're dealin' with people who make the cast of Friday the 13th look like a MENSA meetin', so the next mornin' the group soldiers on until they find Crazy Wanda's house. Then the Nuge knocks on the door an goes into this real pitiful help me Wanda, help help me Wanda routine, til she feels sorry for 'im an lets 'em come inside. Wanda's a little skittish on account of not havin' much company, an the fact that most people recoil when they see 'er since she looks like Scott Reiniger from Dawn of the Dead after he turns zombie, but she still has manners enough to clear all the dead pigeons off the sofa so everybody can make themselves at home. But about that time Pete shows 'er the plaster cast of the footprint they took earlier an she starts screamin' like that kid from A Christmas Story after his tongue freezes to the flag pole an the Nuge hasta clear everybody out until she finishes squallin' like Kim Cattrall in the locker room scene from Porky's. Later that night, the Nuge pulls out a couple more of his Bigfoot campfire tales that he's carefully rationed out for all the sections of the movie where the plot starts to drag. The first one involves some poor woodcutter havin' his axe taken away an gettin' it buried into his trapezius muscles for makin' too much noise while the skunky monkey's tryin' to sleep off a hangover. The second one's about these girls who've made it into their early 20s without ever graduatin' from the girl scouts who run around the woods with steak knives in case they meet some nice men who wanna see a demonstration of their cookin' qualifications. Ole sassy squatch grabs 'em by their necks an makes 'em do breast bumps until they stab each other to death on account of 'em bein' too stupid to drop the knives.
So now it finally seems like maybe stationin' a guard is in order, only Pete wanders off by himself (because of course he does) an ends up gettin' what passes for his brains bashed into this big lodgepole when he fails to notice the Bigfoot cam headed his way. You can always tell when Biggie Squalls is around, cause the camera lens gets all red except for an oval in the center. It basically looks like what a baby sees while its Mama's tryin' to force it out of 'er hoo-ha. But anyhow, the death of Pete is determined to be within the range of acceptable losses, so the group heads back into Wanda's place an busts into this room fulla Jesus paraphernalia that hadn't been opened since Paul Harvey was in diapers, an cause Wanda to meltdown like a chocolate bunny at a Florida Easter egg hunt. Then the Nuge decides to hypnotize Wanda so she'll flashback to the time she was 15 an gave it up to some huckleberry. Unfortunately her Pa found out about it, an he looks about like Craig T. Nelson after 20 years of shuckin' corn in Nebraska, so you know she's gonna get 'er hide tanned bad enough that 'er backside ends up bein' visible from the international space station. Then he throws 'er outside durin' a rainstorm for gettin' devil cooties all over the furniture, an that's about the time his Squatchiness shows up an... well, I don't wanna get too disgustin' about it, but the short version is that Wanda gets snatch-squatched. Pa hears 'er screamin', but he hasta talk things over with the Big Guy first to see if this is part of his plan or whether he aughta put a coupla rounds of double ought into Bigfoot's beastly buns, an by the time he decides to shoot it's too late. An that ain't the only thing that's late, cause now Wanda's been knocked up by the unsolicited Wookie nookie an eventually gives birth to this thing that looks like it came outta Rob Zombie's shower drain, leavin' Pa with no other choice but to do away with it before it can grow up an become Wolfman Jack. Some of the kids're still skeptical, so the Nuge does what any mature, respectful adult should do in his situation; he goes outside an digs up the baby's corpse to prove it. You'll have to excuse Larry Shagman if he's just a little bit P.O.'d when he sees what's goin' on, an pretty quick he starts goin' after the kids to remind us that the children are only the future if they survive the present. We're talkin' one P.O.'d primate. Gonna cut it off here, cause I don't wanna spoil the finale an make the Satch-Man any madder'n he already is.
Alrighty, well, I think we can all agree that Bigfoot's at his best when he's cranky, and I can't think of any other movie where he was angrier than Night of the Demon. There was Shriek of the Mutilated in 1974, and Snowbeast in 1977, but this is about as twisted as you're likely to see Bigfoot get, at least in the pre-CGI days, and I'm not about to watch that trash. Unfortunately, starting in the early '70s, filmmakers decided to put a fresh spin on the guy and he never really did recover until the computer effects had taken over. I think it was The Legend of Boggy Creek that really put the subgenre on the road to decline, and even though the nasty vindictive Bigfoot that we all know and love did still manage to get more starring roles than the family friendly version in the '70s, the success of Legend of Boggy Creek led to titles like Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot, The Legend of Bigfoot (sounds the same, but it's a different flick), The Mysterious Monsters, The Creature from Black Lake, Return to Boggy Creek, and of course, Boggy Creek II: The Legend Continues. I guess if you've gotta be completely honest, you'd probably have to acknowledge that none of these movies are really all that good, but the best ones tend to be from the "so bad it's good" class of cinema, and Night of the Demon definitely has a touch of that. One need only watch about the first half hour to figure out why the director (and especially the writer) never worked again, as this flick's got some of the stupidest, most unbelievable characters ever put to film, and I say that as someone who's seen every Friday the 13th movie a half dozen times. Even in movies like Don't Go in the Woods or Chopping Mall, where the cast is made up primarily of chunkheads and bimbi, they at least come to realize just how screwed they are before they actually get mangled. The cast of this flick is utterly unconcerned, not only about all the missing persons reports and corpses that've turned up prior to their field trip, but they're barely even concerned when one of their fellow cretins ends up with part of his brain stuck to an oak tree. I know that people throw around terms like "the stupidest people ever" pretty hastily, but I think this flick features a cast that's a legitimate contender for the honor. Soon as I check out a few thousand more flicks I'll be sure to confirm or deny this, but in the meantime, feel free to take a look at the movie and judge for yourselves. I did like the part where the anthropology professor shows his class the footage of some family out on a camping trip being massacred by Bigfoot though, and the scene where the two girl scouts end up stabbing each other to death with the kitchen knives because they can't seem to drop them. It does tend to get a little graphic in two specific shots, but they're the kinda scenes that're so poorly executed that I don't think too many people are likely to be deeply affected by them. Those two sequences really only succeed at making the movie even more ridiculous than it already was, because at that point it becomes clear that they were trying to be "edgy," and this, my friends, is how you reach the fabled land of "so bad it's good."
Okay then, let's inspect this thing's dismembered member and see if it's still got what it takes to please. The main plot really isn't any sillier than any other Bigfoot movie, at least, until you start getting into the subplots. Apparently, Jim Ball (the writer/producer) wasn't content with simply unleashing Bigfoot on a forest fulla campers, cause he also added in the subplot about the Bigfoot worshiping cult that used to follow the crazy lady's father. Alright, I guess that's okay, but why do these guys terrorize the crazy lady when they know she's Bigfoot's baby mama? I mean, wouldn't that be like a Christian slapping around Mary Magdalene? What's your deity gonna think when he finds out about that? There just ain't a hell of a lot that makes sense about this movie, and on a technical level it's gonna suffer for it. The acting, out of just about everyone in the cast, is bad. Michael Cutt, who plays Professor Nugent, is acceptable for about two thirds of the movie, but even he comes off as unpolished at times. I guess Barrett Cooper isn't too bad either as the God fearin' Craig T. Nelson lookalike who beats the tar outta Wanda and flushes her illegitimate offspring down the ole outhouse. But if we're being serious about this, I'd think you'd have to give the burnt biscuit award to Shane Dixon, who performed all his grunts and groans far better than any members of the human cast, despite having a haircut like Terrence Mann in Critters. Here's who matters and why: Michael Cutt (Angry Nazi Zombies, Spirits of the Fall, The Amityville Asylum, HellBilly 58, Bane, The Horror Vault Vol. 1, Meatcleaver Massacre), Lynn Eastman-Rossi (Phantasm), Philip Boyd (Demon Wind), Barrett Cooper (Satan's Black Wedding).
The special effects are pretty lousy, although I have certainly seen worse. The biggest problem is that all the blood is way too thin and a bit too bright as well. That said, they do actually make an attempt at some elaborate effects, including an axe wound in a neck (lame), a charbroiled face (decent, until you notice the fake teeth standing out proudly against the rest of the face), a shredded back (not bad), and a torso splitting scene that looks like crap when the two pieces come apart, but does at least feature some animal guts. Then there's Bigfoot himself, and he's gotta be one of the strangest looking Bigfeet in the history of the movies, because his face and chest aren't actually covered by the suit. So he's got this really long hair on his legs, arms, and the top of his head, but otherwise, he looks more like a caveman. Bizarrely, the areas not covered in hair actually look more believable than the parts that do, and I'd at least say it looks better than the Yeti from The Snow Creature. I guess you can call the Bigfoot vision an effect too if you want, but it doesn't make any sense and is super cheesy. Looks like what a baby sees as it's comin' out of its mama's naughty spot.
The shooting locations are the probably the high point by default. The plot gets more points for being completely ridiculous, but if we're judging the movie's artistic merit, it's another one of those situations where the aspect that's the hardest to screw up generally ends up being the movie's biggest strength. The cinematography really isn't that good, and it doesn't seem like too many of the shots were set up with a clear understanding of how to best utilize the scenery, but they've got trees most of the time and the guy did seem to be looking into the right end of the camera as best as I can tell. That said, there are a couple shots with scrubby hills that don't have much in the way of vegetation, and the opening/closing scenes that're supposed to be in a hospital were obviously shot in somebody's spare bedroom or a hotel. I did like the interior of the local grocery store and some of the shots of the cast riding down the river in the boat, so I guess it's gonna have to be considered the movie's strong point. As for the soundtrack, well, as with most ultra low budget movies produced in the early '80s, it still sounds like the '70s. Which isn't necessarily a problem; after all, Phantasm came out in '79 and its got the best soundtrack ever put to film. This, however, is nothing like Phantasm. The weirdest thing about it is just how varied it is from one track to the next, you've got some tracks that feature a lot of synthesizer sounds, then another with nothing but piano, a third that sounds vaguely like a fire engine siren if it were comin' out of a goose and, of course, the opening credits music. You remember those commercials from the early '90s where emotionless old men would ask if you liked to draw or doodle, and that if you did you could complete and mail in this simple art test and have some minimum wage art critic determine whether you've got the moxie necessary to become a serious art student? That's what it sounds like. In a movie where Bigfoot rips off a man's wangdoodle. I don't even know what to do with that. Overall, this flick does alright in terms of entertainment value, but when measured on a scale of how willing the cast is to even have their names associated with their roles (see the credits listing above), it's pretty abominable. Definitely watchable for anyone looking to find the perfect cinematic accompaniment for their pizza and beer, but not the sort of thing you'd ever wanna watch if you're the kinda person that spends a lot of time in places with cover charges.