For this review I’m going to be taking a look at Night of the Demons 2. It’s a movie that I’d seen at least once prior to rewatching it for this review, but I didn’t remember a whole lot about it. It had been a few years since I’d first watched it and all I could really recall was that I didn’t like it. My memory was telling me it was too goofy and had failed to capture the cheesy charm of the original Night of the Demons. After taking a look at it with fresh eyes and an open mind, I found myself liking it more than I remembered, but still being kind of disappointed.
Night of the Demons 2 takes place six years after the first film and focuses on some of the students and staff at St. Rita’s Academy, a catholic boarding school. Halloween is approaching and early in the movie we see three girls sitting in their dorm room at the school, lights out and flashlights on, telling scary stories to each other. One of them tells the story of Hull House which is now focused on the deaths that occurred at Angela’s party six years earlier rather than the deaths of the Hull family like it was told in the first movie. Apparently all of the kids’ bodies were recovered except for Angela’s (which isn’t surprising to the viewers because we see Angela murder two people in the pre-opening-credit sequence).
A little later we learn that Angela’s parents committed suicide and her sister, Melissa, is a student at St. Rita’s Academy. Melissa was is a meek and mousy girl (hence the nickname given to her by the other students: “Mouse”) and has been seriously affected by the deaths of her family members. She suffers from nightmares and has trouble making friends. It doesn’t help matters that when the school’s bad girl and resident bully, Shirley, learns that Melissa is related to Angela, she concocts a devious plan for Halloween night that goes sideways and unleashes Angela and her demon underlings both in Hull House and at St. Rita’s.
One thing that Night of the Demons 2 probably does a little better than the first movie is in building characters. Except for Judy and maybe Sal, most of the characters in the first movie were pretty flat. You knew enough to make the story work, but character development wasn’t a huge focus of the filmmakers. This time there are a few characters that get fleshed out a little more.
In addition to Melissa and Shirley, a lot of time is spent getting to know the head nun, Sister Gloria. She is quite a character. She wields a yardstick like a sword and is pretty much a caricature of all the catholic school nun cliches out there. She’s very strict with the kids and no one really likes her. Even the new head priest, Father Bob, doesn’t like the way Gloria treats the kids.
Some of the other characters get some time to develop as well, like Perry, the school’s budding demonologist and harbinger of doom when the demons start to get loose, and Bibi and Johnny, the two kids who like each other and just want to spend some time together.
One issue that I do have with the characters is which ones tend to be focused on. From a story perspective, Melissa has the biggest character arc so it would make the most sense for this movie to be her story, especially since she has ties to the first movie, but she gets relatively little screen time when compared with some of the others. Bibi and Johnny seem to take center stage for a while, but their story isn’t very dynamic. Perry also comes into play more towards the end of the movie, but he seemed like an afterthought throughout most of the first half. I mean, when you have what’s presented as a touching death scene towards the later part of the movie and you don’t really care about either character, that’s a problem.
The story itself is fine, but there are little things that don’t make sense or seem like they’ll matter when they really don’t. For instance, Johnny’s eyes wander when a particular girl does a particularly sexy dance. You’d think that would build tension between him and Bibi, and it does for a second, but it’s quickly forgotten. There’s also an odd bargaining scene towards the end that I feel was unnecessary.
Then there’s Sister Gloria. I’m sure some people find her funny, but I felt she was too silly. The first time we meet her she’s very enthusiastically practicing fencing with a yardstick. Later on she takes it upon herself to take charge of the situation and fight the demons. She prepares in a Rambo-esque sequence, putting on boots, selecting her weapons, and just being too tongue-in-cheek for my tastes.
The silliness isn’t just restricted to Sister Gloria either. The demon-possessed kids and their violence also seem more goofy than in the original. At one point there’s a talking demon head in a toilet. At another point a demon hand comes up through a car seat and flips the bird. Another plays basketball with his own head (with a pretty horrible headless body effect). One-liners aside, the violence in the first movie was taken fairly seriously. It’s kind like the tonal difference between Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2, but the comedy in Evil Dead 2 was done better.
I’m kind of bashing the movie, but I did mostly enjoy it for what it was. I just think it could have easily been a whole lot better. Between the first two movies of this series, it went from being a cheesy 80s horror movie (which is usually pretty good) to a cheesy 90s horror movie (which usually isn’t very good). But I like cheesy horror movies regardless of when they were made, so I can’t really hate Night of the Demons 2. At least my memory of it has improved, because I probably won’t watch it again any time soon.
5 – Average
You’re not missing much if you skip Night of the Demons 2. It has some good ideas, and I like that they built upon the story started in the first movie, but the silliness of it just didn’t work for me. If you sometimes like your violence goofy then give this one a shot. Otherwise, move on.
I’m not sure why, but I really like the original Leprechaun. The violence is goofy, but I like it. Maybe it’s because I expect it to be silly, or maybe it has to do with Warwick Davis. Either way, this is one of my favorite low-budget horror comedies. Stay away from the sequels though. All of them.
English Title: Night of the Demons 2
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writer: Joe Augustyn, James Penzi
Featured Cast: Amelia Kinkade, Jennifer Rhodes, Cristi Harris, Johnny Moran, Zoe Trilling, Merle Kennedy, Robert Jayne, Rick Peters, Christine Taylor
Run Time: 96 minutes
Availability: Available on DVD and Blu-Ray