On Halloween night a sleepy town in Colorado is overrun with demons and hipsters who are both out to ruin the chill vibe in Eric Power’s 2019 film Attack of the Demons. This paper stop-motion feature is a love letter to 80’s horror filled with references to many gory classics. The film’s deadpan humor and mythology combine to make an engaging horror tale for genre enthusiasts and those looking for something strangely funny. The Blu-ray from DarkStar Pictures features an excellent A/V package and enough bonus features to raise an evil dead army. Recommended.
‘I feel like these waffles are going to give me cholera.”
Within the gory confines of Eric Power’s genre-heavy Attack of the Demons lies an inspiring message about the difficulties of friendship and the power of just letting go. Tailored for horror-seasoned adults and teenagers exploring horror themes, the film smartly intersects the lives of three pop culture fanatics dealing with the challenges of maintaining positive relationships. Summoning demons from the depths of hell is easy if you’ve got the right book, but what about dealing with an egotistical boyfriend who constantly rags about your taste in music?
Attack of the Demons begins with three twenty-somethings reunited years after high school during their hometown’s Halloween festival. We quickly see that their identities are based on their pop culture obsessions. Kevin (voiced by Thomas Petersen) loves Italian horror and late-night movie marathons. Jeff (voiced by writer Andreas Petersen) is obsessed with video games, and Nat (voiced by Katie Maguire) craves indie rock. Tensions melt away once a mysterious druid priest awakens a dormant entity. Soon the hipster trio is fighting off a demonic force turning everyone into evil creatures of the night.
The ugly creatures slithering around are reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing, body horror sequences are very Cronenbergian, and a character named Stuart Combs references Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon and lead actor Jeffrey Combs. Night of the Demons and Bava’s Demons both influence the story structure here as well. Thankfully Power does an excellent job crafting the mythology behind the demonic creatures and their presence in the sleepy mountain town of Barrington, Colorado. He and screenwriter Andreas Petersen have a firm grasp of genre conventions as they add layers of mystery to the story.
While the film is shaped by these horror classics it doesn’t wink at the audience when dropping a reference. Attack of the Demons uses them as a tool to shape its characters and story giving it all a fresh but lived-in feel. Dialogue is snappy between the leads as they make a bid for the secluded cabin on the mountain hoping for safe shelter from the encroaching monster army. Veteran horror fans will surely be at home with this thrilling paper-cut adventure. Don’t let the animation style turn you away, you’ll be hooked in no time.
The film features cults, demons, and the end of the world as we know it, but the whole attitude is very chilled-out. Stretches of dialogue and character development can drag the momentum a bit but there is enough on-screen to keep you interested even if the pacing slows. Gorehounds will delight in the attention to detail as human bodies are overcome by the demonic presence. Gunshots, stab wounds, and decapitations appear with heightened detail shocking even this reviewer that such things could be depicted with cardstock.
Attack of the Demons wears its horror influences on its cardboard sleeve transporting viewers on a wild journey. Power’s labor of love delivers a quirky take on animated horror which is both refreshing and engaging beyond its cinematic influences.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Attack of the Demons arrives on Blu-ray thanks to DarkStar Pictures. The Region A BD-25 disc is housed in a transparent keepcase with a two-sided artwork slip. Loading the disc presents the DarkStar logo before landing on the static Main Menu screen with some John Carpenter-inspired beats announcing your arrival.
The HD image for Attack of the Demons arrives in an AVC encoded 2.40:1 aspect ratio presentation that is surprisingly detailed and colorful. Here the paper craft art maintains textures and depth between the various elements on the page. As layers of paper are stacked to create elements of body tissue or forest canopy exposed space between them gives a homemade appeal. Primaries are bright with reds and greens dominating the frame thanks to bloody effects and the goopy ooze of the monsters. Inky black levels are solid throughout. The paper blood splatter elements reveal exposed bone and muscle tissue underneath the goopy monsters with surprising clarity. Attention to detail is quite impressive in these moments.
Attack of the Demons arrives with the option of either a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track or a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix. Both tracks are excellent as this small-budget feature doesn't require a complex mix. Dialogue is clear and clean without hiss or pop detected. Synth tracks keep the genre tone nice and comfortable with eerie warbles and brooding lows. Digital ambient tracks highlight the audio mix adding a sweet Return of the Living Dead vibe to the proceedings.
DarkStar Pictures loads this festival-friendly film with multiple commentary tracks, a making-of featurette, and more. Start with the Power commentary track before checking out the Demonic Commercials.
I love when a quirky genre film surprises me even when my instincts tell me it's just another festival darling. Boy, do I love being wrong! Attack of the Demons is a true labor of love as the story develops and becomes an engaging horror outing. Power and Petersen love referencing their favorite genre classics but never let it obstruct the clever deadpan humor or sincere character moments. This is a perfect midnight movie for those who need a good chuckle. Dark Star Pictures delivers the Blu-ray with an excellent A/V package and enough bonus material for an evil dead army. Recommended.