Friday, December 7, 2012

B-Movie Review: "Night of the Demons 3" (1997)

It’s easily the least in the cult classic series, but does it at least have a few optimistic glimmers here and there? 

For what it’s worth, I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the “Night of the Demons” franchise. The original is one of the better teen-sex-splatter-comedies of the late 1980s, and the 1994 sequel is really one of the best straight-to-video horror flicks of the decade (and yeah, I know full well just how  condescending that achievement sounds on paper, but take my word for it - it’s actually pretty awesome.) Heck, I even thought the long-shelved, 2009 “remake” was one of the few horror re-interpretations I’ve seen over the last few years that was not only entertaining as a revisit, but enjoyable on its own individualistic merits, too. As a whole, I think that the Internet consensus is that the “NOTD” franchise is pretty groovy; and then, the discussion turns towards the third film in the series, and all of a sudden, all of that commendation vanishes quicker than Linnea Quigley’s boob-entombed lipstick in the first movie.

I’m not exactly sure where the third “Night of the Demons” (sometimes called “Demon’s House” in parts of the world you would never want to visit, anyone)  flick went wrong, but the fact that it was filmed in Canada was probably misstep number one. A lot of the actors in the film have accents that are thicker than maple syrup, and I’m almost 100 percent certain that at least one or two characters in the movie had their lines completely dubbed over. And then, you get into things like special effects, camera work and the generic story, and you have yourself a through-and-through crappy movie par excellence.

Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t a few optimistic glimmers here and there; while the film is undoubtedly the series’ weak link, it’s a pretty enjoyable piece of cinematic crud and instant-nostalgia for any Cinemax-weaned kids that grew up catching this one at 3 in the morning on a school night way back when.

Our film begins with a police officer stepping into the fabled Hull House. If you missed the first two flicks, it’s this abandoned mortuary that’s actually a secret warp pipe to hell, or something like that. As soon as the cop crosses over, we see this really bad “rippling water” portal effect - you know, sort of like in “Stargate,” but worse. The cop hears laughter, and Angela - the primary antagonist of the franchise - just materializes “I Dream of Jennie” style in front of him. For some reason, he doesn’t think anything is all that peculiar about people literally appearing out of thin air, and is promptly rewarded by having his badge telekinetically yanked off his uniform and driven into his skull. And that’s our cue to kick off an unbelievably cheesy title sequence, featuring horribly-animated CGI demons rising from a polygonal graveyard and floating around like glitches in a Sega Saturn game. And man, you HAVE to hear this atrocious, spook-funk music that plays over the entire sequence.

From there, we meet your stereotypical, suspiciously multicultural cast of kids driving around aimlessly in a van. They wear demon masks and play with puppets, and say really, really outdated (even by 1996 standards) lingo like “def.” And for some reason, one of the teens is played by Tara Slone, ex Joydrop front woman and one -time “Rock Star INXS” contender. This is quickly broken up by an absolute T&A-filled sequence in which a cheerleader and her nerdy best friend get dressed together and talk about boys and stuff. From there, we jump back to the party van, where the Canadian doppelgangers of AC Slater and Zack Morris have a brief knife fight while wannabe Motley Crue music plays in the background. After that, the kids tell some “Yo’ Mama” jokes and talk about “eating at the Y,” when they see the now-clothed cheerleader and nerd friend (dressed up like a cat, despite being so mousey) broken down by the side of the road. The other kids make references to “Full Metal Jacket,” and the cheerleader responds to a sexual advance from one of them by saying, and I quote, “you’re an actual jerk.”

She'll swallow your soul ...and also, whatever else you have in the fridge at the time frame. 

So, the kids end up at a convenience store, where a gunfight breaks out. We have a shootout after the cops intervene, and wouldn’t you know it? The one black kid in the movie is the only person to get mortally wounded. I never would have guessed it either. The kids think they’ve killed one of the cops (but, he was wearing a bullet-proof vest and is therefore A-OK), so they decide to hightail it out of there as fast as they can. A lengthy scene ensues in which the town homicide detective - of course, on his last night on the job before retiring - talks to the store owner forever. It doesn’t really add anything at all to the movie (other than beefing up the run time), but hey, at least the cinematography is better than you’d think it would be.

It doesn’t take an Albert Einstein to deduce where the kids end up hiding out. The alpha male of the teens (all of whom, of course, are played by actors and actresses that look like they are in their early 30s) does some posturing, while the other kids say some malarkey about hell gates and demons not being able to cross over underground water or some other junk that’s probably relevant to the plot, but what the hell ever. And then, we have ourselves the infamous “Evil Dead” dolly shot, which I am almost 100 percent certain is leftover footage from the second “NOTD” movie, where Angela - in demon form - floats around the wall space, making the EXACT same sound the demons from the original version of “Doom” make. The walls start bleeding, a three-way standoff begins, and THAT’S when Angela decides to enter the fray.

Angela is basically the Freddy Krueger figure of the series. The thing that really strikes me about the character is that in all three films, she looks totally different, but I’ll be damned if she wasn’t portrayed by the exact same actress throughout the trilogy. In the first film, she was a downright skank-tacular ‘80s goth, complete with the electro-shock hairdo and black lipstick, and in the second, she was a slender, sultry, almost Hispanic-looking seductress. And in part three, she…well, let’s just say, it looks like she’s been eating a LOT more souls lately than she probably should. Oh and, for you trivia hounds, the actress - Amelia Kinkade - just so happens to be the niece of Rue “Blanche Devereaux” McClanahan, and her big claim to fame, post-NOTD? She reinvented herself as an animal psychic, and was even featured on “The Anna Nicole Show,” back when, you know, she wasn’t all dead and stuff.

So, the kids decide to trail off in different directions, while Angela does this weird sexy dance to Swahili techno music. She corners this dorky red-haired guy and proceeds to give his handgun a hummer, ultimately spitting out the bullets - which she sucked out of the chambers with her Herculean oral muscles - after he asks if she can “suck a golf ball through ten feet of garden hose.” The screenwriter for “Full Metal Jacket,” obviously, must be pleased.

So, the dorky dude allows Angela to smooch him (even though he just saw her prove that her mouth has the suction power of a collapsed nova), and after flicking out her yellow, snake-like tongue, asks him if he wants to French for a while. If you’ve ever seen “Species,” I think you know what happens next.

"Sure thing, Miss Pleated Iguana Tongue, I would LOVE to make out with you!" 

Next up, Angela confronts the mousey friend (ironically, stuck in a cat costume, because that’s all funny and stuff) and tells her that she can make her all hot-looking to the guys, so the do some lesbo lip locking for a while and Angela turns all zombiefied and starts chasing her around a tool shed - concluding with Angela screaming “happy Halloween, bitch!” while crazy strobe lights flash over the building.

Eventually, the alpha male of the tribe returns to the shed, where the cat-girl is now all slutty and stuff. They end up doing the horizontal mamba, while the one dude Angela snogged to death is reborn as a demon creature. After that, Angela manages to hypnotize the one kid that was shot earlier, only to possess the van and run him over. LOLOOPS.

The alpha male’s girlfriend shows up, and gets into a LITERAL cat fight with the other chick, who has now been transformed into some kind of panther-demon thing. She runs back into the main house, where Angela calls her a “sperm dumpster” and turns her hand into a cobra. Something tells me she doesn’t mind, though.

The cheerleader attempts to steal the squad car from the dead cop from earlier, who is now a zombie, too. She eludes him, while the two alpha male teens have a really pathetic looking brawl upstairs. The non-delinquent alpha male and the cheerleader hide out in the attic, share a tender moment, and then throw lye into the face of a demon that manages to break his way in. And then, the homicide detective shows up. Dénouement, anyone?

So, the delinquent alpha male holds Angela “hostage,” while the homicide detective says that, much to his surprise, the cop he shot earlier didn’t really die. Angela, of course, goads him on, telling him to open fire, anyway. Both  captor and captive end up getting shot, and Angela rebounds, now circled by a small horde of zombies. Burp-talking like a death metal vocalist, she said that she wants the cheerleader’s virgin soul, for some reason that’s never really explained all that well. A horribly lit dragon-ghost puppet thing jumps out of the Hull House (well, it get superimposed over it, anyway) and Angela appears to get run down by the surviving male and the detective. They examine the body, and Angela springs to life once more, yanking out the detective’s heart, Kano from “Mortal Kombat” style. The surviving two kids manage to run past the underground river entrance, where Angela and all of her demon buddies are melted by the sunlight. The film concludes with the cheerleader saying that she would have to be there every Halloween form here on out, to make sure nobody else falls prey to Angela’s trickery. And the credits doth roll shortly thereafter.

Fun Fact: Most hellbeasts have the same dental plan as people in the U.K. 

Compared to the other flicks in the series, yeah, this one is pretty disappointing. I really, really hated the camera work in this film, as it seemed like EVERY damn shot in the movie was filmed at a tilted angle, for reasons that are utterly inexplicable to me or anyone else on the planet. The special effects were OK, and I guess some of the lines weren’t too bad, but all in all, this thing was just cheese and more cheese for 90 minutes.

The movie was produced by Claudio Castravelli, who is probably best known for being the guy behind the early 2000s soft-core MTV show “Undressed.” It was directed by a dude named Jimmy Kaufman, who has done mostly Canadian TV work, including helming a few episodes of that crappy “Poltergeist” TV series and…get ready to experience a sudden, onset bout of late ‘90s ecstasy - the Fox Family cult classic, “Big Wolf on Campus,” which in case you didn’t know, was pretty freaking awesome. As far as the rest of the cast and crew? Yeah…pretty much nothing since, really.

I didn’t like “NOTD3,” but I can’t say that I completely abhorred it, either. It’s watchable, but trust me: you would be much, much, MUCH better served checking out any of the other movies in the series instead. Like, by a considerable margin, and stuff.

Two Stars. Jimbo says, “check it out.”


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