Next week, on February 4th, Scream Factory (whose Facebook page is always a great resource on their upcoming releases) releases two of director Kevin Tenney‘s earlier works. The ouija board hit Witchboard and the classic Night of the Demons are both hitting Blu-ray in special editions that will more than please fans of the films.
I’ve taken a look at these discs and they’re packed with extras. Night Of The Demons has a fantastic transfer (I’m sure Witchboard does as well – I just haven’t had a chance to watch the main feature on that one yet) and I don’t think anyone will walk away disappointed.
You said you weren’t a huge horror fan around the time of Witchboard and Night Of The Demons but you wound up creating two completely different horror franchises, tonally.
That’s true. Witchboard was my first film and like I said I wasn’t a horror fan but I wanted to do one because it was the way to go. You could do one for a low budget with a no-name cast and actually have a shot at getting into a theater. But I still wanted it to be about characters and people and have a lot of the tension come from their interpersonal relationships. On top of the haunted house ghost story the film has.
For Night Of The Demons what were some of the challenges of shooting in a contained location?
Finding it was the hard part. Finding something on a limited budget that was big enough and cinematic enough and one of the reasons we got it for a decent price was that a supermarket chain had bought it and they were going to tear it down and build a grocery store. They had already bought the property but the neighborhood was fighting against it trying to claim it a historical building. They had bought it and couldn’t do anything with it, so when we came to them and said we’d like to rent it they were so thrilled to get any money from it they gave it to us at a good price.
And the idea was to kind of make a slasher, structurally.
At the time I wasn’t that aware of that! It’s only through past interviews that I’ve learned that Joe [Augustyn; screenwriter] was a real slasher fan but didn’t want to have a Jason or a Freddy, he wanted to have something like this, the Demons. Because our budget for the makeup was so small, but the makeup for the demons themselves was so elaborate, only three kids actually turn into demons and the rest of them we gave them zombie versions of the makeup. The only ones who are full blown demonic are the ones who were possessed while they were still alive.
You weren’t involved with the sequel but you did come back for the third installment to write.
I was doing Witchboard 2 at the same time they were doing Night Of The Demons 2. And then Night Of The Demons 3 I was not going to be involved with at all because they were shooting in Canada because it was cheaper and an American couldn’t direct. But then all the submissions and ideas they were getting for the script all sucked and we don’t know what to do. And I said, “I always thought it would be cool if some kids robbed a liquor store and went to the house to hang out.” Instead of being there to party, they’ve got guns – they’re dangerous themselves.
Given the elaborate reissues of this and Witchboard from Scream Factory, are you shocked at the long life of these films?
We get asked all the time why we don’t have a soundtrack and that’s because we didn’t think anyone was ever going to want one. We had a big screening here in Hollywood on Friday night and I’m sitting there watching the film with half the cast and Bill Gallo turned to me and said, “oh my God! It’s 27 years later and we’re sitting here watching this movie! I can’t believe it.” If you got a time machine and went back and wandered across the set and asked the cast and crew if they thought this was going to be a big deal, nobody would have thought so.