Devil's Night, or Hell Night, is a name associated with October 30, the night before Halloween. It is related to the "Mischief night" practiced in other parts of the United States and the world, but is chiefly associated with the serious vandalism and arson seen in Detroit, Michigan from the 1970s to the 1990s, finally prompting the "Angel's Night" community response.
Devil's Nights dates from as early as the 1940s. Traditionally, city "youths" engaged in a night of criminal behavior, which usually consisted of acts of vandalism (such as egging, soaping or waxing windows and doors, leaving rotten vegetables or flaming bags of animal feces on front porch stoops, or toilet papering trees and shrubs). These were almost exclusively acts of petty vandalism, causing little to no property damage.
However, in the early 1970s, the vandalism escalated to more devastating acts, such as arson. This primarily took place in the inner city, but surrounding suburbs were often affected as well.
The crimes became more destructive in Detroit's inner-city neighborhoods, and included hundreds of acts of arson and vandalism every year. The destruction reached a peak in the mid- to late-1980s, with more than 800 fires set in 1984, and 500 to 800 fires in the three days and nights before Halloween in a typical year.
Decline of Devil's Night arson 
By the early 1990s, Detroit saw little decline in Devil's Night arson. After a brutal Devil's Night in 1994, then-mayor Dennis Archer promised city residents arson would not be tolerated. In 1995, Detroit city officials organized and created Angel's Night on and around October 29–31. Each year as many as 50,000 volunteers gather to patrol neighborhoods. In 2010 the number of reported fires climbed to 169, a 42 percent increase over the previous year. However, in 2011 and 2012 the totals again declined, to 94 and 93 respectively.
Appearance of Devil's Night in fiction 
- Devil's Night is an integral part of the 1994 film The Crow. Set in Detroit, the film shows in flashbacks the murder of Eric Draven (Brandon Lee), and the rape and murder of his fiancée Shelley Webster (Sofia Shinas) on Devil's Night. At a meeting of criminal underworld figures later in the film, the main villain Top Dollar (Michael Wincott) is portrayed as having started the first fires himself, which were later emulated by others. He declares that the practice has become tiresome as "it's all been done before", referencing the perceived popularity of Devil's Night by claiming that there are even Devil's Night greeting cards. He intends to further escalate the destruction annually wrought by his organization by "setting a fire so big the gods will notice us again!". His plan is halted by Draven, who ultimately kills him in retaliation for ordering the murder of Draven and his fiancé.
- In the film Grosse Pointe Blank, which takes place in the Detroit suburbs of Grosse Pointe, the character Debi Newberry says that her apartment burned down on Devil's Night.
- Devil's Night was also chronicled in journalist Zev Chafets' 1990 nonfiction book Devil's Night and Other True Tales of Detroit.
- Devil's Night is used as a plot device in the 2007 Canadian horror film Left for Dead.
- The film 8 Mile features a sequence where the characters torch an abandoned house in Detroit that was used for crime, in reference to Devil's Night.
- Detroit hip-hop group D12's 2001 debut album is titled Devil's Night.
- Influenced "Devilz Nite" an annual Halloween series composed of underground hip-hop artist doing dark songs.
- Devil's Night appears in Laura Bickle's urban fantasy novel Embers (Pocket Books, 2010).
- Mischief Night appears in an episode of the Nickelodeon animated show Rocket Power.
- The sixth episode of the sixth season of the CBS drama Criminal Minds was titled "Devil's Night", and revolved around a burn victim who plotted his arsonist murders on the three days around Devil's Night.
- Devil's Night is mentioned in NCIS episode 143 "Code of Conduct".
- Devil's Night is a song featured on Infamous, the new album by metal band Motionless in White.
See also 
- Jack Santino, The Hallowed Eve, University Press of Kentucky (1998), Pg. 10.
- "The Mischievous History of Devil's Night". The Washington Post. 2007-10-30.[dead link]
- Devil's Night Fires Decline By More Than Half in Detroit, The New York Times, November 3, 1991
- City of Detroit Angel's Night Homepage, Accessed July 4, 2007
- "Detroit fires drop over 3-day Halloween period". Daily Tribune. 2009-11-03.
- "Significant rise in Detroit fires over Halloween weekend 2010". Digital Journal. 2010-11-01.
- "Detroit Angels' Night: Data behind this year's record-low fire count". MLive.com. 2012-11-02.
Further reading 
- Chafets, Zev. (1990). Devil's Night and Other True Tales of Detroit. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-58525-9.
- Davis, Adam Brooke. "Devil's Night and Hallowe'en: The Linked Fates of Two Folk Festivals." Missouri Folklore Society Journal XXIV(2002) 69-82