If you're reading this then you probably agree that the recent Night of the Demons remake was about as good an idea as that time you tried to syphon gas out of your buddy's car as a joke; there was a lot of sucking and it stunk, big time. Sure it had the always luscious Jessica Alba, but it balanced the scales by parading around a slovenly, over the hill Edward Furlong as one of the protagonists. It's even more of shame because I fondly remember watching the hell out of him in the campy 90s horror flick, Brainscan (sorry, guilty pleasure). Rather than go on about how terrible the Night of the Demons remake is, I'd rather discuss a film which I feel is the spiritual successor to the original and why it succeeds (and why you should watch it).
The Convent was released in 2000 in Spain and Germany, but was never able to secure a distributor Stateside (ironic since it was made here). I was extremely lucky to catch a rare 35mm screening of it at the now defunct Hoyt's theater, in a double bill run by the crew at Exhumed Films (Featured with Night of the Comet). Directed by Mike Mendez (directed The Gravedancers and an episode of Masters of Horror), who really recognized all of the genre tropes and executed them perfectly here.
Let's do the list:
An abandoned location where bad things happened long ago?
Yes! For Night of the Demons, that place is Hull House, a former mortuary in which the whole family was mysteriously slain by one of their own. In the case of The Convent, the "bad thing" is the most excellent Nun Combat scene yet released. I say "yet" because I've not yet seen Nude Nuns with Big Guns.
Stupid teenagers who go there for a stupid reason while drinking, screwing and doing drugs?
Yes! For Night of the Demons, Angela Franklin invites Stooge and the gang up for a spooky, alcohol fueled Halloween party. For The Convent, it's some frat goons who want to paint their letters up on the abandoned building while doing drugs and each other.
Wait, are the teens killed and possessed one by one, in awesomely grotesque fashions?
Of course! I mean, why else would we be watching?
The parallels here go beyond the standard fare, which soak the genre like so much delicious gore. Throughout The Convent, there is a gleeful celebration of the genre going on. Just as is clear with Kevin Tenney's original NOTD, there's a merry sense of "Yes, we know this is a gore filled demon movie with hot teenage victims. Yes we think this is awesome too. Now watch THIS!" It pervades both films and is, frankly, why I had so damned much fun watching them.
So now you're probably asking why you should watch The Convent, since you've already seen the original Night of the Demons dozens of times. What the hell kind of cheesy horror film fan are you? Fine, I'll indulge you.
Check this out, Adrienne Barbeau as a bitter, alcoholic, terminatrix, demon killer. Bill Mosley and Coolio in supporting roles that steal the scene they're in. Ridiculously inept, sexually confused satanists, whose bumbling just makes the situation way worse. Even better? The Convent is seventy-nine minutes, clocking in a full eleven minutes shorter than Night of the Demons. This is good news because, as you might recall, there's a point near the end of the second act where NOTD really drags, slowing down the pace of the film. So a quicker pace, genre and 90s favorites, pretentiously fake hot topic goths and oh, did I mention a whole load of teenagers get horribly slaughtered by their possessed friends? Yeah that happens too.
You can rent The Convent from Netflix or pick it up from online retailers such as Amazon. The DVD from Lionsgate has a very clean transfer and offers exotic special features such as "interactive menus" and "scene access". It's an upgraded from my VHS copy, which offered hot "fast forwarding" action, but not by much. How ever you get your mitts on it, see this movie. If you have a sense of humor, you will not regret it. And for you dedicated cine-masochists out there, the 2009 Night of the Demons remake is available to watch instantly on Netflix. Don't say that I didn't warn you.