Night of the Demon (1980 film)
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|Night of the Demon|
|VHS released by VCII Incorporated|
|Directed by||James C. Wasson|
|Produced by||Jim L. Ball|
|Screenplay by||Mike Williams|
|Story by||Jim L. Ball|
|Starring||Joy Allen |
|Music by||Stuart Hardy |
|Edited by||Joy Rencher's Editorial Service|
Night of the Demon is a 1980 American horror film directed by James C. Wasson, and written by Jim L. Ball and Mike Williams. The film centers on a group of scientists who set off on an expedition to prove the existence of Bigfoot only to be stalked and slaughtered by the creature. Due to the film's graphic violence, it was listed as a "video nasty" by the British Board of Film Classification, and underwent heavy censorship.
Bill Nugent, an anthropology professor, awakens in the hospital he was brought to after having been found in the woods with his face mutilated; Nugent had ventured into the wilderness in search of Bigfoot with five of his pupils, all of whom are missing. An inspector interviews Nugent, who begins his story, which starts with Carla Thomas, the daughter of one of the creature's victims, asking to accompany Nugent and four of his students on their expedition to find proof of Bigfoot's existence. A flashback depicts Nugent showing Carla and his class recovered footage of Bigfoot attacking a picnicking family, whose remains were never found. Bigfoot's involvement in the disappearance of the family was deemed a hoax by the authorities, who have also labeled evidence suggesting the monster's involvement in other deaths in the area fake. Carla addresses the classroom, reveals the evidence of Bigfoot's involvement in her father's murder appears to have been tampered with, and tells of one woman's account of witnessing the creature maul her lover, who was dragged from the vehicle they were having sex in, and left to die on the windshield.
That night, Nugent assures his wife that he and his companions will be fine, despite the university revoking its sanctioning of the expedition. The next day, Nugent and his group camp out at Carlson's Landing, owned by Lou Carlson, who despite previously sharing information about Bigfoot with the authorities, acts evasive towards Nugent, brushing off the professor's questions. A student bribes Carlson with alcohol, and learns about a recluse named "Crazy" Wanda, a woman supposedly connected to Bigfoot. Elsewhere, a hunter is impaled when Bigfoot throws him onto a jagged branch.
Nugent and his five companions reach a nearby town, and question the residents about Wanda, learning that she went mute after having a stillborn and deformed baby, and is the daughter of a deranged preacher known as Emmet McGinty, whose followers (rumored to be inbred, cannibalistic, and practitioners of human sacrifice) live nearby in almost total isolation. As Nugent and the other five discuss their findings, they are spied on by the sheriff, who smokes a cigarette identical to ones a student found in an ashtray in Carlson's house. The sextet reach the end of the river and set up camp as Nugent discusses a biker killed via manual emasculation nearby. In the middle of the night, the explorers are awakened by chanting, and happen upon the rumored cult (which includes the sheriff) performing a Satanic sexual ritual involving Wanda, and an effigy of Bigfoot. Nugent scares everyone off by firing a gun into the air, and in the ensuing commotion the statue of Bigfoot catches on fire.
The campers are observed by Bigfoot, and in the morning they discover that their boat has vanished, and that large footprints have been left at the scene. The group continues onward regardless, and while having sex hours later two of the students are attacked by Bigfoot, which claws the man's back. Eventually, the expeditionists find Wanda's cabin, and gain entrance by offering Wanda candy. When shown a plaster mold of one of Bigfoot's footprints, Wanda goes berserk, and locks herself in a room. To pass the time until Wanda calms down, Nugent mentions a woodsman who was hacked to bits with his own axe, and two Girl Scouts who were stabbed with their own knives. A student goes off on his own, and is killed when Bigfoot slams his face into a tree, causing the man to accidentally shoot himself.
In an attempt to get information, Nugent uses hypnosis on Wanda, who recalls her abusive childhood, and being raped and impregnated by Bigfoot as McGinty looked on in horror, convinced the beast was a demon. McGinty killed his half-human grandchild the moment it was born, and in turn Wanda set him on fire, and made it look like a suicide. Nugent digs up the remains of Wanda's offspring, which do appear to be more beast than man. Bigfoot appears, and absconds with its dead spawn as Nugent and the others barricade themselves in Wanda's cabin. Hours later, Bigfoot breaks in, and ignoring the dissonantly calm Wanda, it forces Nugent's face onto a hot stove, and butchers the others through means that include strangulation, disembowelment, throat slitting, and impalement.
In the present, Nugent begs the inspector to find Wanda and Bigfoot to prevent further deaths, and is sedated. The inspector and attending doctors discuss Nugent's tale, and deem him criminally insane.
- Michael Cutt as Professor Bill Nugent
- Joy Allen
- Melanie Graham as Wanda McGinty
- Paul Kelleher as Sheriff
- Lynn Eastman-Rossi as Susan Nugent
- Eugene Dow as Doctor Paxton
- Don Hurst as Doctor Harris
- Terry Wilson as Inspector Stack
- Shane Dixon as Monster
- Barrett Cooper as Reverend Emmet McGinty
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Due its depiction of brutal violence Night of the Demon was listed as a "video nasty" by the British Board of Film Classification. It remained banned until 1994, when VIPCO resubmitted it to the BBFC, who agreed to pass it with an 18 certificate as long as one minute and forty-one seconds worth of gory mayhem was deleted. Almost all of the violent scenes were trimmed, but the castration of the biker and the removal of a student's intestines (for use as a flail) were removed completely.
The film was released on VHS by Vipco on September 13, 1993. It was later released for the first time on DVD by Black Horse on November 1, 2004 and by Vidtape on November 30th that same year. Code Red released the film as a part of its Maria's "B" Movie Mayhem series on October 11, 2011. It was last released by Mr Fat - W Video on June 21, 2016.
Devon Bertsch of Digital Retribution wrote, "When the Bigfoot is off screen, it is admittedly hard to overlook the film's many, many flaws. Indeed everything that is not the Bigfoot is highly flawed, and even the Bigfoot himself looks pretty crap. The acting, script, FX and the often incongruous score are laughable, but add to the film's wacko charm."  A 2½ out of 5 was given to the film by Justin Kerswell of Hysteria Lives!, who called it "undoubtedly the best of the worst of the early 80s backwoods slashers". Dread Central's Chris Haberman stated, "Is this a 'so-bad-it's-good' movie? No. This is one of those rare, largely forgotten films that was taken so seriously by its creators that it is difficult to imagine a large team of people reading the script, enjoying it, coming on-board, and putting in the time and energy to bring the terrible story to life. As such, this is an 'I-must-have-a-fever' movie, because most of what you'll see may feel like a hallucination" and "The film has plenty of problems, but I think the reason its supporters still stand beside this freakshow is that the film works hard to entertain. No matter how clumsy the dialogue and effects may be, these cats were trying to be taken seriously, and the result is too angry and depraved to be considered a lazy cash-in or mocking parody piece. The filmmakers' intention to make an earnestly mean and perverted film is undeniable, and that weird essence turns even the most absurdly executed set pieces into memorable mindfuckers".
- Kerswell, Justin. "A-Z of Video Nasties". hysteria-lives.co.uk. Hysteria Lives!. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
- "Night Of The Demon [VHS]: Michael Cutt, Joy Allen, Bob Collins, Jodi Lazarus, James C. Wasson: Amazon.co.uk: Video". Amazon.com. Amazon. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
- "Night of the Demon (1980) - James C. Wasson". Allmovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
- Bertsch, Devon (8 November 2011). "Night of the Demon (1980)". digital-retribution.com. Digital Retribution. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- Kerswell, Justin. "Night of the Demon (1980, US)". hysteria-lives.co.uk. Hysteria Lives!. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- Haberman, Chris (20 June 2010). "Retrospective: 1980's Slice of Sasquatchploitation - Night of the Demon". dreadcentral.com. Dread Central. Retrieved 23 June 2014.