The period of about 2005 to 2012 saw the great horror remaking, as studios, desperate for cash and bereft of original ideas as always, decided to raid their intellectual properties and hope a few fans of the originals wandered into the multiplex. A (probably incomplete) list – “Friday The 13th”, “Halloween”, “A Nightmare On Elm Street”, “My Bloody Valentine”, “April Fools Day”, “Children Of The Corn”, “The Hills Have Eyes”, “Day Of The Dead”, “Dawn Of The Dead”, “Fright Night”, “Silent Night, Deadly Night”, “Prom Night”, “Black Christmas” and “The Stepfather”; to that we can add this, when the originals were so obscure I completely forgot about them the last time I did this list, in November of last year. Of those, the only two worth the slightest bit of a damn are “Fright Night” and “Dawn Of The Dead”, although neither of them are close to as good as their originals; let’s see how this one does.
Actually, as the original “Night Of The Demons” was terrible, this is easily better than it, without still being all that fantastic. One trait it shares with another remake, “Prom Night”, is to be so completely different to its original that the choice to use its name must have been solely monetary – when they throw in a few random bits of continuity as the movie goes on, it’s sort of a surprise as you’ll forget quite quickly that the two are in any way related.
In a stylistic similarity with the original trilogy, we get a cold open of people getting murdered in demon-y ways, this time from 1926 (with the footage meant to look like it’s from that era). It’s the Broussard House, in New Orleans – neither the same name or town as the originals – and in the current day, it’s about to be rented out by a local entrepreneur, who needs this night to be a success in order to save herself and her cat from living on the streets.
There are people you’ll recognise in this movie! The entrepreneur, Angela (same name, same sort of character arc, I guess) is Shannon Elizabeth, of “American Pie” fame; one of the three beautiful young women who know Angela and are preparing to attend her event is Monica Keena (“Dawson’s Creek”, “Freddy vs. Jason”). The local drug dealer who needs some sales at the party to keep his supplier from killing him is Edward Furlong (“Terminator 2”). A brief aside: Furlong has had what sounds like a messed up life, chewed up by Hollywood as a young kid, but…anyway, he and Keena met on the set of this, and began a relationship which is still apparently dragging along today, despite his multiple arrests for domestic violence and substance abuse issues. Sad story.
What’s interesting is how packed the house is with party-goers, making me think this was going to be a real bloodbath; but then for absolutely no reason, cops appear and break things up, leaving the seven main cast members. I have to assume cops in New Orleans have better things to do on Halloween than break up perfectly peaceful house parties, but then I could be wrong. When Furlong and Elizabeth find a hidden door which leads to a sub-basement with a group of very old dead bodies in it, and when she puts her finger in the mouth of one of them, she gets bit and we’re on for another demonism-is-passed-on-via-blood-or-saliva epic.
Because we’ve established kissing can pass on the curse, we’re treated to a number of girl-on-girl scenes, because of course – although one of them ends with a girl getting her face ripped off, which is a fresh take on it. Plus, something for the trailer! (I haven’t seen the trailer, but I’d bet every penny I’ve ever earned one of those scenes is in it).
90 SECONDS LATER EDIT: I was right 😦
It’s not bad, if we’re being honest. Elizabeth is vastly better than Amelia Kinkade as the Angela character, mixing sexy and scary in a much more interesting way. Keena is a genuinely brilliant Final Girl and I wish her career had gone better than it has, and the rest of the cast are all fine, with Furlong having the sunken eyes of an actual drug addict to go along with playing a sleazy drug dealer. The effects are decent, even if they’re a bit too heavy on the CGI and a bit too light on the practical stuff.
The story even makes sense, of a sort. They explain why the house is cursed, and why the seven people there are all doomed, and why Halloween is important (even if it’s a silly reason, they at least bother to give one). All things that improve on the original. And it’s got a light tone without being too wacky, with Keena getting some nicely comic moments.
I even liked the few little bits of continuity – like Linnea Quigley making a brief cameo showing her ass in the same outfit she wore in part 1, although the trick-or-treaters look pleased and not horrified as she’s about the same age as their grandparents. The bit where one of the women shoved a lipstick tube into her boob also makes an unwelcome return! The Angela character treating everyone else to a dance scene was fun too, but there was an even deeper cut. Parts 1-3 all used the same Evil Dead-inspired scene of an unseen force rushing up on the unsuspecting teens. This one ripped off a different part of the Evil Dead, where they trap a possessed person in the cellar and desperately try to hold the trapdoor closed.
There’s even a link to ISCFC legend Donald Farmer, as the woman who’s working the door for the party (and steals all the cash when the party is broken up) is Tiffany Shepis, the extremely busy actress who was in his “Chainsaw Cheerleaders”. And she was in “Sharknado 2”, and “Tromeo and Juliet”, I guess.
I could have lived without the extreme use of handheld cameras towards the end, as it achieved nothing but making me feel a bit sick. And there’s a weird return for one of our least favourite bad movie tropes, “haha all our friends are dead”. But this is fairly small potatoes.
It’s okay! Nice moments, nothing to get too excited about but fun nontheless. I prefer part 2 of the original trilogy, but it’s much better than the original part 1 and if you ever see it on a low-end cable channel one evening, you could do a lot worse.
Rating: thumbs in the middle