The Film: Night of the Demon
The Principles: Michael Cutt, Joy Allen, Bob Collins, Rick Fields and Melanie Graham. Directed by James C. Wasson.
The Premise: Professor Nugent takes his college students on a camping field trip to a remote mountain area where a psychotic Bigfoot has been going on a killing spree. They witness a black magic ritual and soon unravel the horrifying truth about the creature and his mutant offspring… but are they too late?
Is it any good: It’s a so-bad-it’s-good exploitation epic that truly delivers and I consider it to be the greatest Bigfoot movie ever made. There were many. It seems like back in the seventies you couldn’t shake your dick without hitting a Bigfoot movie on the chin. There was an entire sub-genre of horror based on the mysterious monster, as well as a few cheap documentaries and a guest appearance on T.V.’s The Six Million Dollar Man. Bigfoot was all the rage! The drive-ins were flooded with movies featuring the elusive man-beast that included: Creature from Black Lake, Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot, The Legend of Boggy Creek and my second favorite Bigfoot movie, Shriek of the Mutilated. Yes, Bigfoot was a rising cinematic star. The Loch Ness monster was supposedly very jealous of all his press.
Why is Night of the Demon the greatest of all Bigfoot movies? Because the Bigfoot in question is insanely pissed-off and commits some of the most atrocious murders I’ve ever seen before. It’s like a Sasquatch-slasher film and the body count is huge! First, the violent Yeti tears a fisherman’s arm off. He then attacks a nude couple in a van having sex, mauling the guy while the girl drops dead of fright. Next he twirls a camper in a sleeping bag through the air like a lasso, then releasing him to be impaled on a sharp wooden tree branch. In one of the most gruesome (for me) and notorious murders, a biker pulls over to the side of the road to smoke a joint and take a leak. Bigfoot jumps out of the woods and rips off his dick! It’s extremely graphic in a manner that you just don’t see anymore. Wait, there’s also a kill where the Bigfoot uses a lumberjack’s own axe to chop him to pieces with. That’s right, Bigfoot using an axe! Digest that! But without a doubt, the most gonzo Bigfoot murder in the entire movie is what fans refer to as: the Girl Scout sequence. It involves two pretty young Girl Scouts (both played by women that are clearly in their twenties) who are walking through the woods with their hunting knives out in hopes of obtaining a merit badge for something. The crazed Yeti clangs them both together like a pair of cymbals until they stab each other to death with their own drawn blades. It’s the single weirdest and most original kill ever committed to screen in my opinion:
The finale includes a devastating slow-motion mass murder in which the surviving group of students is attacked in an old cabin and each one is brutally killed in a different method by the rampaging Sasquatch:
It is one of the many films to be included in Britain’s notorious Video Nasties list and subsequently banned from viewing in the U.K. due to violence. This is a B-movie where the cheapness of the production value actually adds to the film’s aesthetic by making the murders seem somewhat realistic, no matter how outrageous they are. There are a lot of long, extended takes of extreme gore that really give it a gritty, filthy quality that’s quite refreshing. The pre-credits kill-scene features an artful shot of a severed arm stump spurting a puddle of blood into the monster’s footprint that’s pretty sublime.
There is one other twist that truly delivers in the sickest way imaginable, as well as being so bat-shit crazy it elevates the film even further than it has already gone. It involves a sub-plot including a strange group of locals that perform satanic-looking rituals in the middle of the woods, where they appear to symbolically sacrifice a naked virgin girl to the effigy of a Bigfoot. It’s a very Race with the Devil moment. Then the students and Professor Nugent uncover the truth when they investigate a reclusive woman that is referred to as “Crazy Wanda.” Turns out she was raised by an old religious freak of a dad in an isolated cabin and for some reason he thought she was a whore, so he kicked her out one night. Big mistake, because she was attacked and raped by a horny Bigfoot. Yes folks, it goes there! Wait, there’s more! Nine months later she gave birth to a mutant Bigfoot-baby, so her father being the sensitive type he is burns it alive. This simply must be the reason for all of Bigfoot’s rage issues. In a way, the creature featured in this film reminds me of the cop in Bad Lieutenant. There’s absolutely nothing that this Yeti isn’t capable of. I’m surprised there’s not a scene where the Sasquatch isn’t shooting smack!
This thing doesn’t let up for over one hundred and thirty minutes and it’s massively entertaining! It features a uniformly terrible cast of actors that deliver an outstanding collection of awkwardly stilted performances. The score sounds like creepy 70’s elevator muzak. The violence and nudity level is off the charts and the monster costume is actually quite effective and frightening for your usual man-in-a-suit flick. I must also mention that this is the only Bigfoot film that I know of to feature the amazing effect of Bigfoot-vision! This adds to the film’s slasher-vibe, as well as its woodsy location.
Is it worth a look: This movie will rip your brain’s dick off!
Random anecdotes: I have heard rumors that the film’s excessive gore sequences were added by the producers, who shot the additional footage after it had already been completed to spice things up. I’ve also heard that the director was a reclusive crystal meth-maker. If either of these completely unsubstantiated rumors were true, it would explain a lot about the film and why it’s so awesome.
Cinematic soul mates: Creature from Black Lake, Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot, The Legend of Boggy Creek, Shriek of the Mutilated, Night of the Bloody Apes, Search for the Beast and Abominable.