Suburban Grindhouse Memories No. 22:
Who Knew Sasquatch was so MAD?!
By Nick Cato
While listed as being made in 1980, the gory NIGHT OF THE DEMON looks to be a few years older. I caught this on a double bill (around 1983) with the lame killer-rat film OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN, and while I can hardly remember ORIGIN, NIGHT OF THE DEMON turned out to be a very well done monster-on-the-loose flick.
Faithful readers of this column have heard me mention the Amboy Twin Theatre, one of Staten Island’s finest venues for underage patrons to be admitted to an R-rated film. OF UNKOWN ORIGIN was a mainstream release, and had a solid TV ad campaign. But during its second week of release, several theaters in the NY/NJ area decided to add a second feature to it…and I’m glad they did. I’m still convinced whoever was responsible for this didn’t watch either film; while they’re both “monster” movies, DEMON’s penis-amputating Sasquatch was just slightly more hardcore than ORIGIN’s annoying rat. And thanks to the money-hungry suburbanites at the Amboy Twin, my sophomore eyes got to see the hairy carnage on the big screen.
An anthropology professor (why do all these bigfoot/yeti films have an anthropology professor?) convinces a bunch of his students to go looking for the source of a rash of recent murders (for a professor, the guy’s a real moron) as the culprit is reported to be a Sasquatch-like creature. That’s basically the entire story…but what makes NIGHT OF THE DEMON tolerable (and so much fun) are the kill scenes. The professor tells his posse (around a campfire) some of the stories he’s heard of Sasquatch-related killings, the best being some poor biker who pulls off the road to take a leak. As he whizzes into a bush, he gets his Johnson yanked off by a strong, hairy arm. With the exception of the infamous decapitated-head-goes-down-on-woman sequence from ReANIMATOR (1985), I can’t recall a crowd going crazier for a scene…and this was one of the earliest kills in the film.
In an attempt to add a little bit more to the story, our search party finds an old woman who lives isolated in the woods…and they eventually find out she had a baby with the Sasquatch (oh yes folks, this was one of the finest moments in American cinema in my opinion). While we only get to see the offspring’s head in a quick close-up, he looked an awful lot like one of the title creatures from WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966).
DEMON’s body count puts most slasher films to shame. In one Oscar-worthy sequence, a couple shagging in a van fall victim to the irritated Bigfoot (and why he’s so pissed off is never clearly explained). There’s also proof that Sasquatch is almost as inventive as SAW’s Jigaw: two female tour guides—walking around with pocket knives—are picked up by the hairy demon who then smashes them together, causing them to stab each other until they’re both a bloody mess. There’s also an arm amputation, bodies impaled on glass, rocks, and in one of the more memorable scenes, Sasquatch rips some guy’s intestines out and uses them to whip and strangle a room full of coeds.
YES…this is entertainment, folks.
Like any genuine trash film, NIGHT OF THE DEMON is plagued by sub-par acting, inept dialogue, and so many technical errors my friends and I had a hard time keeping up with them (but not to fear…CODE RED DVD has promised a deluxe DVD treatment later this year! Are you as psyched as I am? Probably not. Your loss.). There are also plenty of boobs flopping around the forest, so perhaps, like your standard human slasher, Sasquatch just doesn’t go for sex on his turf.
Despite its low budget and everything else it has going against it, this film still manages to work. It entertains more than any other Bigfoot/Yeti film this side of SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED (1972). And considering this was the only film directed by James C. Wasson, it’s safe to say he put everything he had into this, so at least give him a big E for effort.
If the sheriff looks familiar to you, you may be one of the six other people who saw him as a detective in the nearly impossible-to-watch MEATCLEAVER MASSACRE (1977). No? I didn’t think so…
© Copyright 2011 by Nick Cato