Night of the Demon 1980

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With the current Tory government systematically dismantling Britain’s standing in the world through its austerity measures I can almost look back with a sense of nostalgia at Thatcher’s gang of fools who found the time during the tough early eighties to get worked up about a bunch a cheesy, throwaway B movies. Of course there are a few classics in amongst the list like Fulci’s The Beyond and a couple that have almost no gore or nudity at all (Gary Sherman’s Dead and Buried is a bloodless but classy affair and Tobe Hooper’s Funhouse seems to be on the list by mistake) but some films are so inept and stupid it’s hard to believe that they could be offensive to anyone.

Night of the Demon is one such film.

The story of a rampaging and possibly horny Sasquatch, Night of the Demon is no one’s idea of a good film but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hugely entertaining none the less. I think I have to point out right now that there is one scene that should, in theory, be deemed offensive: Bigfoot rapes a girl to continue his bloodline. That’s not good, but as Bigfoot himself is a guy in an orange monkey outfit and all he does is jump up and down on her whilst howling to the wind it’s really hard to be taken seriously. Afterwards, the girl, known affectionately as Crazy Wanda, gets all protective of the monster, maybe even a bit in love with him – “oh,” said May, when I told her about it, “It’s THAT kind of rape.”

Anyway, expect spoilers from here on in because the film isn’t readily available anywhere except seemingly on YouTube where you can find the whole damn thing. We start off in what might be a hospital or someone’s spare bedroom disguised as a hospital. A man has been found in the forest, the bottom half of his face wrapped in bandages as he’s so badly mutilated. The doctor tells the police that he is raving like a mad man and that they won’t be able to get any sense out of him. The bandaged man then proceeds to explain very clearly what has happened. He is neither raving, mad or even muffled by the bandages. He begins his tale of what has happened to him without even moving his mouth as if he was somehow badly dubbed, and the film enters into a flashback…

There are a LOT of flashbacks in this movie. In fact if you think about it, as the hospital framing device means the entire film is a flashback then every other one we see is essentially a flashback within a flashback which is a terrible way to tell a story. However most of these flashbacks within flashbacks are to incidents when the Sasquatch killed someone, and if we didn’t have these the monster wouldn’t show up until the last fifteen minutes of the film, so they are probably for the best. Also most of them are told by the professor leading a bunch of students into the forest to find Bigfoot. He suddenly will break out into a flashback story, always sitting by himself, often with a different hairstyle from moments before. I would not like to make any rash assumptions but I get the feeling these flashback set-ups and the following scenes were shot somewhat later from the rest of the film in order to get it up to a proper running time.

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I’m glad they are there though as they’re hilarious. One involves a biker who pulls up at the side of the road for a piss only to accidentally urinate on the big hairy guy who picks him to up by the cock and tears it off. “That biker was found two days later having bled to death,” says the professor to his pupils as they sit late at night around a camp-fire. “Anyway, we better go to bed now. Sleep well!” Yeah thanks prof. No chance of me going for a wee in the night now.

Another flashback is about two Girl Scouts who whilst using knives to cut a path through the forest (is this a for a badge?) come across Bigfoot who forces them to stab each other to death in what looks like a weird slow motion dance performed by amateur line dancers. The craziest flashback though involves a couple having sex in the back of a van. Just as they are both reaching a heady climax, Bigfoot tears open the back door, so to speak, and pulls the man off his woman and tears him to pieces or whatever. The beast doesn’t touch the woman, however she keeps on climaxing until she just dies. She dies of her climax. It doesn’t make any sense at all. Maybe they were trying to make out that she died of fright but her acting scared and her acting, er, orgasmically seem to be exactly the same so she just keeps on moaning and moaning until she just stops moving all together. I half expected her to light up a post-mortis Marlboro, but unfortunately that never happened.

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After lots of these flashbacks our gang finally meet Crazy Wanda who they basically lose their temper with when she just sits around being catatonic. They seem to think that being raped by Bigfoot shouldn’t have a lasting effect on her “that was ages ago!” one of the girls says. Yeah get over it Crazy Wanda, what’s the matter with you? I had very little sympathy for these students as not only could they not act their way out of an air bag but they were also a bunch of dim witted and patronising arseholes. Death couldn’t come soon enough to them.

Actually it could. The climax is entirely in slow motion, perhaps for reasons of tension or artistic style but seeing as there hadn’t been either of those so far it was more likely the camera operator had hit the wrong button. So we are left with a final battle as Bigfoot tears the gang limb from limb incredibly slowly. There’s a fun bit where he pulls out a guy’s intestines and swings them around his head and someone else gets their face melted off in a hot pot. The whole scene also has the sound slowed down so the Sasquatch roars and the students scream in a weird blurry noise like something out of a bad acid trip. But as crazy as this is it still isn’t in anyway needing to be banned in the UK in the 1980s.

The director had previously made nothing but went onto make, well, nothing. Same goes for the two writers although some of the cast obviously improved enough to get regular work. But you know despite its rubbish monster, cheap sets, bad acting, terrible gore, dreadful dialogue, poor direction, weak script and just fucking weird music, there is something incredibly charming about the whole enterprise. Maybe it’s because the guys who made this never did another thing, you can certainly see that they put all there energy and skills into making the best film they could. The fact that they had very little skills and must have been stoned out of their minds whilst doing this is by the by. It’s so packed with crazy incidents, odd asides and freaky characters that it’s rarely dull and often just plain bonkers. And this silly, entertaining kind of bonkers should never be banned.

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