Color, 1980, 96 mins. 12 secs.
Directed by James C. Wasson
Starring Michael Cutt, Lynn Eastman-Rossi, Eugene Dow, Paul Kelleher, Richard Fields, Melanie Graham
Severin Films (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Code Red (DVD) (US R0 NTSC)

Even as the 1970s waned, Night of the Demonpeople were still crazy for Bigfoot. The whole paranormal craze that spawned interest Night of the Demonin ESP and UFOs led to an enduring fascination with t hat furry forest dweller, leading to films ranging from mildly creepy but wholesome ('72's The Legend of Boggy Creek) to gory drive-in fare with a twist ('76's Shriek of the Mutilated). One of the last films in this cycle also turned out to be one of the craziest: Night of the Demon, which takes the tried-and-true formula of a professor leading some kids out into the woods to find the mythical beast and turns it on its head via a string of episodic, blood-sprayed set pieces. It's also one of the best horror party movies you can possibly imagine.

When anthropology expert Professor Nugent turns up in the hospital with the bottom half of his face swathed in bandages, a cop and a doctor are called in to find out what the heck happened to the students he trotted out into the wilderness to find Bigfoot. Flashbacks within flashbacks tell the extremely grisly story as Nugent relates the story of a fisherman who got his arm torn off (in close-up, a nice segue to the opening credits) and how the victim's daughter was one of his pupils. After showing his Night of the Demonclass a home movie of a family being attacked by a hulking monster, they all decide to check out the area Night of the Demonfor themselves. Along the way they're regaled with other brutal Bigfoot encounters involving two overaged Girl Scouts, a horny couple in a van, a guy in a sleeping bag (shades of Prophecy), and most notorious of all, a biker whose pee stop by the side of the road takes a nasty turn. Eventually they reach a secluded cabin where a traumatized woman (Graham) reveals the horrible truth including her own twisted family history.

While most movies would normally be undone by inept performances from all of the actors and a distinct lack of plot or characterization, Night of the Demon attacks the viewer with so much gusto you won't even care after the first ten minutes. It's an anti-masterpiece of sorts that moves like a bullet and has the good sense to throw in a ridiculously juicy death scene every seven minutes or so, climaxing with an over-the-top cabin assault that would even make a young Sam Raimi gasp in admiration. On top of that you even get a Bigfoot sex scene and a Bigfoot mutant baby, so the filmmakers were obviously trying to give the audience their money's worth.

Night of the DemonLike a lot of indie horror films from the early VHS era, Night of the Demon has Night of the Demonhad a very rocky video history. The first (and probably only) official tape release came from VCII (around the same time they did The Prowler), and subsequent bootleg EP-speed tapes and budget-line DVDs followed. The film was branded a video nasty in the UK and suffered some very obvious cuts to the more graphic scenes, while some of the American gray market releases (usually packed in with a dozen or so other PD horror movies) were often cut and horribly compressed as well. Hosted by Maria Kanellis (wearing a furry fashion accessory and not much else), Code Red's DVD from 2011 was culled from the original 1-inch video master from VCII (whose copyright info is briefly visible at the top and bottom edges of the frame during the opening 30 seconds) since usable film elements couldn't be located at the time. The presentation is dated, obviously, but it was all we had at the time... and yes, this version is completely uncut. Aside from the Maria wraparounds (and obligatory music video for her song "Fantasy"), you get bonus trailers for Killpoint, Low Blow, and The Hearse.

In 2021, Severin Films finally answered our prayers with a two-disc Blu-ray edition featuring a 2K scan from the recently discovered answer print, marking the first time this film has been scanned from film in many decades. Everything here improves by leaps and bounds: framing, color timing, detail, visibility in dark scenes, you name it. The print looks a smidgen less vibrant in the last reel, but it looks like they've managed to eke out as much as possible from the best film element that seems to exist. It's a big upgrade to put it mildly. The DTS-HD MA English 2.0 mono track is also in fine shape for an undemanding original mix, with optional English SDH subtitles.

Night of the DemonAlong with the feature film, disc one features three featurettes starting with "Just A Night of the DemonLittle Green Kid Outta Waco, Texas" (22m12s) with producer Jim L. Ball starting off on a high note talking about the more intimate mutilation moments in the film before telling the story of his life leading to this film from his childhood listening to 45 RPM records that ignited his interest in the creation of recording and media distribution, with an awakening to the films of Maria Montez pushing him to get into movies where he worked for AIP. He also chats about making a 16mm quickie 1964 horror movie with other USC film students called Fraternity of Horror, which was shot by Night of the Demon cinematographer John Quick. Of course he talks quite about making the main feature at hand, including the story about getting composer Dennis McCarthy who went on to score tons of episodes in the Star Trek series starting with Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also goes into the reshooting of some pivotal gore scenes to punch up the film, with wigs, leotards, and condoms coming in awfully handy. Don't miss this one. Then in "The Demon Made Me Do It" (26m28s), director James C. Wasson recalls making the film in his original version (which wasn't gory at all) and seems a bit mystified by it becoming embroiled in the video nasty scandal. His own story is quite colorful as well, starting off with his early days as a professional singer including gigs around Las Vegas which led to his branching out into other aspects of show business like his first film, an arty all-male 1975 film The Dreamer he directed as "J. Clinton West" (which jolts him when it's brought up). That put him in contact with personnel who would work on Demon, and he's full of stories including his own '60s Bigfoot musical Night of the Demonexperience, the year-long process of prepping for the film, the shooting an hour away from L.A., and some funny stories about the production including a disruptive gag involving the Bigfoot costume. Night of the DemonHe also goes into his complete lack of awareness about the film's release or reputation for ages, never even seeing the finished product but thankful now it was gored up for fans. Finally in "Eye of the Demon" (20m59s), cinematographer John Quick relates his first experience meeting Ball and the making of Fraternity of Horror, followed by his experiences on this film with the opportunity to shoot in 35mm and play around with both studio and location shooting with a variety of lighting challenges. Of course, he also talks about having to play Bigfoot during those red-tinted POV shots which included one physical mishap. A fun (and obviously newly created) trailer is also included, but you also get the unreleased Fraternity of Horror (67m58s) here in its entirety from what looks like an an old VHS source. It's great to have for curiosity value though, shot at an actual fraternity house and feeling a lot like a long horror TV episode as it follows some new frat initiates and their girlfriends at the beginning of hell week -- which of course turns into a more ghastly endurance test than originally planned when it turns into a monster movie. (Yep, it's basically a forerunner to Hell Night with a bit of a sci-fi twist, and there's some entertaining college rock music performed for good measure, too, including a song called "Watusi Woman.")

And on we go to disc two which kicks off with "Cryptid Currency: Transgression Aggression In Bigfoot Cinema" (18m26s), a visual essay in which The Bigfoot Filmography author David Coleman analyzes this film as an "apotheosis" of cinematic trends involving crytpozoology and bloody horror, making it a standout in a financially bereft subgenre known for cheapo (and frequently family-friendly) quickies. He also goes into the recurring themes of Bigfoot cinema, including the frequent collision of the sexual and the monstrous that ties to variations on Beauty and the Beast as well. (Brace yourself for some saucy clips from The Beast!) Then in "Tales From The Cryptid" (37m11s), the always enjoyable Stephen R. Bissette (who co-wrote Cryptid Cinema) explains how his own fascination with crytozoology and its cinematic spawn became a lifelong love that encompassed early efforts like Curse of Bigfoot. As you'd expect, it's a pretty great lecture encompassing everything from Sunn International to Shriek of the Mutilated. In "Deconstructing Patty" (23m13s), author William Munns (When Roger Met Patty) gives a presentation about the famous real-life photographic evidence of what we deem to be Bigfoot and the creature known as "Patty." It's a very in-depth and fascinating dive into the minutiae of figuring out how the evidence could have been fabricated in 1967. Finally in "Mondo Bigfoot" (26m53s), author and cryptid researcher Lyle Blackburn (author Of Boggy Creek Casebook) picks up on the same famous Bigfoot clip to dive into his own take on the topic, which includes such films as Sasquatch and Creature of Black Lake that came during the ripples from The Legend of Boggy Creek. He's also a big fan of the creature behavior presentation in this film, too, and gives props to Exists for the best Bigfoot outfit of them all. Acknowledging the film's video nasty history, you also get the original two-part presentation of Ban the Sadist Videos!, which debuted in 2005 in the U.K. Box of the Banned set and was previously seen on Severin's Blu-ray of House on Straw Hill. It's always a great one to revisit, and for context you also get the new "My Nasty Memories" (27m58s) with Ban director David Gregory of Severin laying out what the atmosphere was like in England at the time and how this turbulent chapter in home video history made a mark that remains deep today. Both Ban and "My Nasty Memories" are also included on the simultaneous 2021 Blu-ray release of Censor if you want to see them in an entirely different special features context. This release is also available in multiple buying options including two bundles and extra goodies like a novelization and a "Dick Demon" figure as part of its Black Friday launch.

Severin Films (Blu-ray)

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Code Red (DVD)

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Updated review on November 25, 2021