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Movie Review : ‘Demons 2' a Smart, Sexy Horror Show

TIMES STAFF WRITER

“Night of the Demons 2" is a smart, amusing horror picture boasting a capable cast composed primarily of promising and attractive young actors and first-rate special effects. If you saw the 1988 original, you may recall that a young woman named Angela and her friends suffered a terrible fate while spending Halloween night in a derelict old house.

You can’t keep a demon down when box office dictates an eventual sequel, so Angela (once again Amelia Kinkade), who became possessed by a supernatural force of evil, is back with a vengeance. She’s out to claim her younger sister (Merle Kennedy), a shy misfit at a posh Catholic prep school; she’ll make her move at the same old house, again on Halloween.

To his credit, writer Joe Augustyn (with an assist on the story from James Penzi) hasn’t come up with a mere repeat of the original, which was basically a rudimentary though certainly effective traditional tale of young people getting more than they bargained for when they break into a spooky abandoned residence. Most of the action in “Demons 2" takes place at the school, although of course we return to the scary Hull House--in reality the once-meticulously maintained turn-of-the-century Bishop residence on West Adams at Menlo Avenue.

The film begins as a teen comedy, sexy and rambunctious, with the students forever defying the strict, puritanical but caring Sister Gloria (Jennifer Rhodes). However, it deftly evolves into a full-scale struggle between the forces of good and evil, with Sister Gloria emerging as a veritable ninja nun, as formidable in spirit as in dueling with the devil’s emissary.

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A sharp, versatile actress, Rhodes dominates a large ensemble cast under the swift, stylish direction of Brian Trenchard-Smith. Although modestly budgeted, the darkly gleaming “Night of the Demons” looks as good as its young actors, boasting superior production design, camerawork and makeup effects created by Steve Johnson, who between the two “Demon” films picked up an Oscar for his work on “The Abyss.”

* MPAA rating: R, for horror violence and gore, sexuality, nudity and language . Times guidelines: Its horror sequences are standard for the genre, but scenes of nudity and sexual implications are considerable.

‘Night of the Demons 2'

Jennifer Rhodes: Sister Gloria

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Amelia Kinkade: Angela

Merle Kennedy: Mouse

Darin Heames: Z-boy

A Republic Pictures presentation of a Blue Rider Pictures production. Director Brian Trenchard-Smith. Producers Walter Josten, Jeff Geoffray. Executive producer Henry Seggerman. Screenplay by Joe Augustyn; from a story by James Penzi & Augustyn. Cinematographer David Lewis. Editor Daniel Duncan. Costumes Hollywood Raggs. Music Jim Manzie. Production designer Wendy Guidery. Art director Darcy Kaye. Set decorator Mary Gullickson. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

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* In general release throughout Southern California.


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