The Video Nasties #96 – Night of the Demon (1980, James C Wasson)

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‘Something huge…like an elephant.’

We all come to the Video Nasties for different reasons. Some come to be shocked, others come for the sex and nudity. Some come for the catharsis, others for the thrill. And then there are those of us that just want to watch a yeti whip someone with their friend’s intestines.

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Welcome to Night Of The Demon. May I introduce you to Professor Nugent? Nugent (first name Ted?) is convalescing in a hospital bed after a university field trip went wrong and his students disappeared. Despite having had his face burnt completely off (as we shall see), he is able to recount the whole sorry tale for the benefit of the authorities. And what a tale it is!

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Nugent, who appears to be a Professor of Tall Tales and Nonsense, is giving his class on Bigfoot to a roomful of students. They are visibly shaken when he shows them some home movie footage of a family being attacked by a man in a monkey suit – Cannibal Holocaust this is not.

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We follow the hapless group trekking through some beautiful scenery in search of the elusive Bigfoot and try to unravel his annoyingly complex backstory. In what amounts to a sort of gore Greatest Hits, every time the gang stops, Nugent regales them with some ridiculous tale of slaughter, prompting a flashback within a flashback. These include a hunter having his arm torn off (with the blood pooling into the Bigfoot’s footprints, making for the film’s best shot), a couple of girl scouts holding knives being smashed together until they accidentally stab each other (just try and make sense of that one), and a terrifically un-erotic sex scene with the most bored-sounding orgasm ever captured on camera (‘Oooooh, aaaaaah, Oooooh, aaaaaah, Oooooh, aaaaaah, Oooooh, aaaaaah,’). You can level many criticisms at Night Of The Demon, but it’s never dull.

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The real crowd-pleaser is reserved for an unfortunate biker who died, ‘not far from here,’ according to Nugent. Indeed, despite our heroes supposedly being so deep into the woods that they cannot find their way home, we see a biker stop by the side of the road to take a piss. Guys, if the road is not far from here, then I’d venture that you’re not likely to be deep in Bigfoot country. Regardless, Bigfoot pops out of the bush that the unfortunate biker is peeing on and tears his penis clean off.

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It’s the blind leading the blind though, with Nugent’s students being just as knuckleheaded as he is. When the pole their boat was tied to goes missing, one dumdum suggests it was, ‘something huge…like an elephant!’ There’s also a blonde lady who has tagged along, because she ‘promised to cook and scrub if [they] let her come along.’ Nugent agrees, shouting, ‘After the dishes are done!’ at her like the rampant misogynist he clearly is. The jokes on him though, because later he tries to dig up a grave while kneeling down. Uh, Professor, I dunno, maybe you want to try standing up for that? I think it’d be a lot easier.

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The pace finally slackens for a hypnosis scene, but picks right back up in the last 20 minutes with Nugent and his morons trapped in a crazy lady’s cabin while Bigfoot tries to break in. There’s some decent atmosphere and creepy music here, and then it just goes utterly bonkers for an extended gore climax that takes place entirely in slow motion, like some kind of bastard love-child of Brian De Palma and Lucio Fulci.

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Speaking of bastard children, did I mention the scene where Bigfoot rapes a woman? No? Good, I’m trying not to.

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Anyway, Night Of The Demon is pure hokum, and can easily be recommended as such, though it’s best watched in a group, preferably while highly inebriated. The acting is mostly atrocious, the special effects veer from convincing to absurd, the plot is an embarrassment, but it’s one of those rare films where everything coalesces into a perfect storm of silliness.

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