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  Night of the Demon Buy this film here.
Year: 1980
Director: James C. Wasson
Stars: Micheal J. Cutt, Joy Allen, Bob Collins, Jodi Lazarus
Genre: Horror, Trash
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: It pains me when I look at the Video Nasties list. It's just so elitist, with zombies, cannibals, psycho-rapists and nasty Nazis making up the bulk of this sicko's must-have catalogue. There's a couple of aliens in there too, a Frankenstein and even a Sinclair ZX81. Yet other movie maniacs such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and the Triffids are severely under-represented to say the least. Even the very scary Loch Ness Monster doesn't get a look in!

So it's very surprising to find three, yes three, Bigfoot movies on there. Don't Go In The Woods... Alone! offers some very sound advice in these troubled times, hammering home the message that one shouldn't go anywhere without Mummy, and Paul Naschy's werewolf meets the Yeti in the imaginatively titled The Werewolf And The Yeti (listen, just because it lives in Tibet doesn't mean it's not a Bigfoot! Carry on and I'll report you to the Furball Anti-Defamation League, OK?). And the best Bigfoot movie of all time, Night Of The Demon, also finds itself languishing on the Roll Of Honour.

The hideously burned Professor Nugent awakes in a hospital bed just dying to tell of his escapades hunting the notorious Bigfoot. The entire story is told in flash-back as we are shown a fisherman having his arm ripped off, blood splashing the screen and filling up Biggie's size 15 footprint. He never knew that he had become the first of NOTD's sixteen (that's sixteen!) victims, fourteen of them to be despatched in graphic detail. And all this happens before the opening credits have even started!

The fisherman's daughter happens to be a student of Nugent who promptly decides to take his pupils into my back garden on an ill-advised hunt for Bigfoot - all the more ill-advised being as they have just watched a genuine Super 8 film of the Hairy One ruining someone's pleasant afternoon picnic. On the way to the woods, the good doctor relates another tale, this time about a woman making out with her toyboy in the back of a van. The boyfriend is dragged out, hauled across the roof and emerges on the windscreen all mangled and bloody. The 1980's was the height of the "have-sex-and-die" movie fad and this one is no exception, predating the AIDS scare by at least three years. Always wear a condom, that's what my old choirmaster used to say!

While the gang set up camp in some unfriendly fellow's garden (I think I'd be a little angry too) an unhappy camper is being swung around in his sleeping bag. Screaming like a big girl he finds himself impaled on a tree branch. Looks like the body-count shows no sign of letting up, does it?

Now the students set off to find the elusive Crazy Wanda, the daughter of a religious maniac, who apparently lives on candy - haven't they been telling us for years that sweets make kids hyperactive? Anyway, Wanda allegedly gave birth to a mutant many years ago so she must know a thing or two about woodland monsters. On the way to her shack, Nugent tells his students another of his amusing anecdotes. A motorcyclist finds out the hard way that smoking is extremely hazardous to one's health when he stops for a quick fag. Whilst relieving himself a big hairy thing appears and lifts him up by his dick, before pulling it off (not in a good way, you understand) and letting him bleed to death. This particular "big hairy thing" is not a feminist, but Bigfoot again.

The gang witness a cult in the forest burning an effigy of Bigfoot. After showing a slight interest in this and going back to bed, Nugent's wife back at home miles away, dreams that her loving husband has his throat ripped out. As she is never seen again in this movie, not even by his hospital bed, it is perfectly understandable to think that this scene has been merely included just to add that little bit extra gore. There's just no pleasing some people, is there?

After their boat and supplies are trashed, the group decides to press on anyway. Indeed, one student is so unshaken by this event that he doesn't fix the radio because he can't be bothered. And they wonder why their grants are cut? Upon finding Crazy Wanda's shack, they find her sitting in a rocking chair suffering from candy-withdrawal. Nugent sees this as the perfect opportunity to relate yet more of his gruesome tales.

A woodsman finds himself critically tickled by his own axe. While he is bleeding on the floor, Bigfoot sticks it into his head. And two girl-scouts, who appear old enough to have a job, two kids and an alcohol problem, are also caught out by Shaggy. As they are repeatedly smashed together they refuse to relinquish the knives they are holding, which no doubt accounts for the massive injuries they suffer. Now, call me a little old fashioned, but why the fuck has Nugent waited so long to tell his young proteges about the grisly murders out here? Sounds like a right cunt's trick to me!

Back in the present, a lazy student wanker has a head-on collision with a tree when Bigfoot demands to know where his taxes are going.

Under hypnotism, Wanda tells the story of her first encounter with Bigfoot. He falls in love with her and rapes her (for fuck's sake, is that really necessary?). She gets up the stick and is prompty forced to have a chemically induced abortion by her God-fearin' fire-and-brimstone father, who incidentally is the leader of the bizarre sect living in the woods. When the baby dies, Wanda sets her daddy on fire and watches him burn to death. The gang are cynical about Wanda's hideously deformed child and dig up its grave. When they find what appears to be lamb's skull, they agree that yes, the baby was a mutant. A friggin' lamb's head? Boy, that's one hell of a mutant!

We all know what's gonna happen next, don't we? Like any teenage Saturday night binge-drinker, Bigfoot doesn't like anyone looking at his lass and attacks the shack. When the monster finally makes his way in, everything becomes slow motion - for at least ten whole minutes - meaning that the viewer has even more time to slobber sadistically over the final deaths. One student is strangled but the others are not so lucky, one young man having his neck rubbed across a broken window, and a pretty young lady finding herself on the wrong end of a pitchfork. But in the movie's most controversial scene, some poor guy has his stomach ripped open with a saw and, get this, has his intestines used as a whip to flog his buddies! Is that pure genuis or what? And, needless to say, Nugent doesn't get away scot-free when he has his face burned horribly on the stove. Back at the hospital, an unsympathetic psychiatrist decides that Nugent is criminally insane.....

No matter how you dress it up, Night Of The Demon is nothing more, nothing less, than a slasher movie - you know, a bunch of kids go camping in the woods miles from anywhere and.... well, you fill in the blanks. Indeed, the biggest twist in the tale is the tangled intestines spinning round the shack! However, it does have more than twice as many deaths as your average body-count flick. In fact "body-count flick" is quite a good description of Night Of The Demon - you can take off your deerstalker and stop puffing on your pipe very early on in this film because there's no mystery as to who the killer is or what it looks like. There are a couple (literally) of nice touches though, such as the monster's point-of-view shots - a big red circle on the screen - I told you never to mix spirits with lager! A couple of loose ends are left dangling (Do you want another intestine joke or what?), such as what becomes of the mysterious cult and Crazy Wanda but I can live with that. The movie is actually very well made with reasonable acting, a competent storyline and an interesting monster but having said that, the special effects are strictly Poundsaver. But despite the piss-poor gore, the camera tends to linger uncomfortably over each murder, and this gloating lens presumably led to this truly absurd, yet bloody good fun, movie finding its way onto the DPP list.

By the way, don't get this confused with Jacques Tourneur's 1957 classic of the same name. As if you would!
Reviewer: Wayne Southworth

 

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