It is, I admit, difficult for me to explain my affection for Night of the Demons 2, let alone justify it. In many ways, the straight-to-video sequel proves inferior to its 1988 predecessor, which would already scrape the bottom of the barrel if not for its unapologetic punk rock energy. Brian Trenchard-Smith’s contribution to the series has got a more formulaic pace than the original, an equal amount of crassness, and lower production values. However, what the film lacks in class, it more than makes up for in charm and humour.
We open six years after the events of Night of the Demons at a Catholic boarding school conveniently located a few miles from Hull House, where Angela (Amelia Kinkade) remains possessed by lurid spirits, tormenting unsuspecting Jehovah’s Witnesses with bloody wedding cakes and such. Why she’s become the figurehead for these evil forces is never made clear, but that’s beside the point. Untypically, Night of the Demons 2 concerns itself less with the titular monsters than with the plethora of horny teens it throws their way.
We’ve got two good-looking jocks (Johnny Moran and Ladd York), two smarmy hooligans (Rick Peters and Darin Heames), a nerd boy who’s obsessed with the occult (Bobby Jacoby), a nerd girl who happens to be Angela’s orphaned sister (Merle Kennedy), the delinquent queen bee (Zoe Trilling), her second-in-command (Christine Taylor), and, of course, the virginal heroine (Cristi Harris), who turns out not so virginal by virtue of making it to third base in the second act. Come to think of it, she doesn’t turn out particularly heroic either, playing neither the proactive final girl nor even the sacrificial damsel in distress. She just sort of gets sidelined halfway into the movie.
Bibi does, however, have spectacular breasts, which I mention neither as glowing praise nor as condemnation. Night of the Demons 2 features an embarrassing amount of T and A, turning what could have been a classic B-level romp into somewhat of a guilty pleasure. Angela and her cohorts can never just kill someone, opting instead to assault the cast with girl-on-girl action and acid boobs of doom. In fairness, Trenchard-Smith avoids the inherently rapey vibe of these sequences by always making it clear that the victims are possessed during foreplay, changing into willing demon participants by the time they start humping, but, you know, the nineties: just a few years before women became people rather than parking spots for our penises.
I’m being a bit harsh. Night of the Demons 2 presents at least one strong female protagonist, Sister Gloria, who turns out my favourite character by far, owing in large part to Jennifer Rhodes’ deadpan performance. We’re introduced to the nun as she practices fencing with her wood ruler and soon learn of her conflict with Father Bob (Rob McCary), a New Age progressive who rejects her disciplinarian approach to education and reform. By the time the credits roll, he’s proven wrong, of course, and she’s turned into a full-fledged super-hero complete with a Rambo suiting-up montage and a Ninja Turtle fakeout moment. You’ll understand the reference when you get there.
We can tell the filmmakers have affection for these characters, what with the relatively low death count, and their enthusiasm alone just about makes up for the hit-and-miss makeup effects and uninspired soundtrack. Sure, the plot mechanics are kind of ropey and the premise itself somewhat déjà vu, but I appreciate screenwriter Joe Augustyn’s willingness to break the mould in key instances, allowing, for example, the kids to escape Hull House and bring the mayhem to a different setting. So many horror sequels content themselves with repeating the same beats as in the original, upping the scales by way of cartoonish violence only. It’s refreshing to see one just go off the rails and have fun with it.
Look, this one’s for hardcore B-horror fans exclusively. Whether you’ll appreciate Night of the Demons 2 depends largely on whether you think a movie called “Night of the Demons 2” has any chance of being good. Personally, I can’t get enough of the stuff. Where else than in a low-budget straight-to-video sequel released six years after the original can an avid cinephile find demon-whipping rosary beads, a decaying goth queen morphed into a giant snake monster, and a character as ludicrously awesome as Sister Gloria? I have a lurid mind, I know, but not a cynical one.