Directed by: Jim Kaufman
Written by: Kevin Tenney
Starring: Amelia Kinkade, Stephanie Bauder and Gregory Calpakis
Reviewed by: Josh G.
“Happy Halloween, bitch!”
Spread out across nine years, the Night of the Demons original trilogy came to a close in 1997, starring our favorite party demon Amelia Kinkade as Angela. What would prove to be a fun and at times eerie start, shifted into a more comical approach that worked almost just as well. Ending with Night of the Demons 2, we had our batch of survivors and new hope for the world around Hull House. But three years later, despite the legend of a massacre with St. Rita’s Academy students, few do anything to prevent wandering teens with the exception of one Unit 66 cop car. Will they ever learn? A Canadian production shot in Montreal, it is strange that alongside Kevin Tenney's Witchboard, each second sequel in both of the horror auteur's once-American franchises ended up being lensed in Canada. In addition, almost all of the actors are native to the shooting area, some of which have previously appeared on famed Canadian horror kids shows Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps. Returning to a slightly darker tone from the cheesier Part 2, will Night of the Demons 3 promise to be a final hurrah worthy of its name? Or does it feel like a rehash with a lower budget?
On Halloween night, a police watch vehicle sets itself up outside of the possessed Hull House, but officer Larry (Larry Day) takes a peak inside. Finding Angela inside, he asks her to leave due to the previous events surrounding the home, but he ends up regretting his actions rather soon. A group of five ‘tough guy’ teenagers driving down the road pick up Abbie (Patricia Rodriguez) and Holly (Stephanie Bauder) who are on their way to a dance. The mood is soon abolished when an argument in a Quicky Mart becomes an exchange of bullets between the clerk, two cops and teen Vince (Kris Holdenreid who played The Great One in Waking Up Wally: The Walter Gretzky Story). Escaping with a leaking gas can, and a wounded Reggie (Joel Gordon) the seven alerted runaways hide out at Hull House, attempting to figure out a game plan. Only, Angela is waiting for them, and through seductions and distractions, she’ll make sure this year’s party will be the one everybody talks about for an eternity...in hell.
Keeping its trademark lesbian make outs, “the party’s just begun”, and nods to previous entries, it would at first appear that Part III has hit the mark once again. Truth be told, I enjoyed it for what it was worth. Without mention, it is taken for granite that these films are not Casablanca, but this one definitely stands out as the weakest. The first big mistake was the house change. Perhaps one of the most frightening of gothic structures with character in horror, Hull House of the first two Demons’ put a whole new dimension of darkness into the films. Here, I just do not get it. Maybe the makers could not afford the house, but for story’s sake, it is passed off as if somebody (meaning Angela) has refurnished the place, making it suitable for living. The question I ask is, why does a demon fancy white walls and trim? It is too bright and modern of a home to bring about any kind of tense knots, ultimately being the deciding factor on whether the movie feels akin to its predecessors. Hint: it does not.
CGI openings? Yep. I should have known that computer snake from the end of Part 2 wouldn’t be the last we see of cheap effects. Almost like a video game, only with three or four loops, we can soar through the 3D air with the monsters in the cemetery through a spitting image of the new Hull House. Strange choice, even in 1997. The safety net of this film is its twist in cast, where we do not have regular people who happen to head on into unfair trouble. Criminals as our main focus (like in Malevolence) make us unable to feel sympathy for some of the victims. In contrast, it gives the distressed females Abbie and Holly more energy, where the only people they can turn to is themselves. When nobody left is pure, whose side do you aid? Another subplot that leads into the action at Hull House is the retired chief of police, Dewhurst (Vlasta Vrana) who loves his magic tricks. Witty (or not so much) lines while trying to solve the mystery of where the boys and girls ran off to is a bit unnecessary. His actions are also idiotic for somebody who has been on the force their entire career. He is not much of anything to add to the story, but with the plot of Part III being reduced to its simplest form – a bunch of kids getting killed in a house – it certainly didn’t hurt.
Whatever happened to that lovable lug Stooge from the original? Or the girl you love to hate; snarling bitch Shirley of the sequel? Not even the leads are very...and I hate to use such a broad term but...interesting. Not even Vince or his girlfriend Lois (Tara Slone), the villainous victims, show any major improvements over the others, and they are shouters! Holly’s object of love, Nick (Gregory Calpakis of Night of the Dribbler) is as bland as can be. It seems the losers or the wannabes, such as Orson (Christian Tessier) and Abbie, are the only non cutouts here. It’s up to Angela and her evil to save the show I suppose. Some things that this movie actually does do correctly are some unique deaths and magic effects. The teens’ masks and costumes being used against them in their transformation into monsters is the most trenchant, the devil mask and cat lady most of all. However, it still isn’t enough. The original had a never-ending brick wall to prevent escape from the property. The first sequel brought the evil through the portal of the underground stream into the world. This one keeps the entrapment from the original, but leaves the gate wide open always. In plain sight. I’d like to say that the demons block their every move, but leaving is easier than burping a baby.
The lamest jokes show up here, and like I said, too bright. Too simple. Not enough jumps nor any creeps. It at least keeps up with the nudity scale, and Angela giving fellatio to Orson’s gun to retrieve the bullets inside is commendable on some level. There is gore, but everything is completed cheaply. Going straight to video, I guess expecting something of the level that we’ve seen already is asking too much. I know when the hopeful and the reasonable need to be separated. The makeup effects are still on par with the day, puppet snakes not included. Treading old ground is its biggest enemy while not making friends with the fresher material it tries to cover. The best production moment is actually the stock footage used from the first one when Angela is unleashed.
Hate. The usual word associated by reviewers of Night of the Demons 3. Sure, it doesn’t live up to the others. Hell, at a time when horror was dry throughout the well, even after Scream and during I Know What You Did Last Summer, it is unremarkable. Not the greatest of Canadian horror cinema. But, I give it the benefit of the doubt. Its jokes do not wipe away the grim infinitely. A slasher with adequate entertainment value and an antagonist who could save just about any bomb. Part III whirls up a finished wrapping to perhaps close the series off. Looks like it did, with twelve years since we last saw one, and a remake on the way. Séville Pictures released a fullscreen Canadian DVD with nothing but scene selections and two audio tracks: English and French. What’s crazy is that some of the film is cut. Lois says “fuck” but it silences it out in an edit. However, we clearly hear that word, along with many others, said many times before it. Curious. An updated widescreen version would be much more appreciated. Preferably one that doesn’t look and sound like a VHS rip. I’m not sure if this will be remembered fondly in ages to come, but look at all the shortcomings from cult classics we see of today. If that’s any proof that Night of the Demons 3 will live on, then I am content in saying there is indeed a purpose for its existence. And it does do a good job at disguising itself as a US flick, even with no propaganda props. Rent it!
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