Kevin Tenney: in the wake of the great demon incident

kevin tenney

I was the guy my boss turned to back in the 80s when the horror movie screeners arrived at our video store—it was my job to watch them and let him know if they were worth buying for the store once they were released. The added bonus was that I got to keep the tapes at a time when VHS cassettes cost up to 90 bux a shot. Night of the Demons was one I cherished most, so there will always be a place on my shelf for any horror flick Kevin Tenney directs. Naturally, there’s his first, Witchboard, and I’ve already covered the sequel, as well as Pinocchio’s Revenge, Endangered Species, and Brain Dead. So it’s time to look at three more.

ARRIVAL II (aka: The Second Arrival) (1998)

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This is the only time that Kevin took on directing a sequel for which he didn’t do the first film. This is the follow-up to the 1996 alien film The Arrival starring Charlie Sheen, but got very little notice. In terms of direct-to-video sequels of the 90s VHS era, it gets the job done as well as can be expected. Actually, it would have been more expected if this were some sort of made-for-TV sequel.

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Patrick Muldoon of Melrose Place plays Charlie Sheen’s stepbrother, and he gets shirtless, so that’s a plus. Ross Geller’s lesbian ex-wife Carol needed to work more than 5 minutes a year, so she took the job as a reporter in this film. The pair teams up after it’s learned that Sheen died and left them and a few scientists some evidence of aliens invading the planet to make it a scalding hot oasis to fit their own natural living environment.

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There are some cool alien reveals as the aliens close in on Melrose Muldoon and lesbian Carol in an attempt to stop them from exposing the truth.

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Soon, pretty much the entire world is after them, thinking they’re a couple of nuts, and of course they can never tell who is really human and who’s an alien in disguise…especially since aliens know how to wield a hammer like your everyday average human.

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Chases abound, there’s time spent on a spaceship, and there’s even a little alien spider robot thing thrown in because the aliens aren’t all that scary on their own.

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It’s the usual 90s alien nonsense that’s easily digestible and nostalgically entertaining, especially if you’re deeply involved in a project organizing your itunes on your computer and not really paying much attention to the movie.

WITCHTRAP (1989)

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In essence, Witchtrap should be my favorite in this trio because it’s the most “Kevin Tenney” of the bunch and is virtually a love letter to Night of the Demons. It’s astonishing that it adores the 1988 classic as much as the rest of us do with less than a 2-year span between their releases. See, there was no Internet at the time to pump Night of the Demons to immediate cult phenomena status – consider that the sequel didn’t come out until 6 years later and you’ll get an idea of how long it took for everyone to realize how much the film ruled – so Witchtrap was really an early champion of the film…

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Tenney himself plays a small role as a guy who owns an inn so haunted by his witch uncle that people have died there, so it can no longer be used for guests. He has a team of ghost experts come in to cleanse the place, with a couple of ex-detectives tagging along to keep them safe. These two detectives are rivals that partake in endless verbal sparring using anti-gay sentiments.

This silly movie has none of the suspense, atmosphere, or jump scares of Night of the Demons, not to mention no kick ass demon makeup. When the group gets to the house, one chick starts having convulsions as she sort of connects with the witch ghost, and people start dying in supernatural ways – death by showerhead, death by killer car, death by bullet to the head with no gun in sight. Even locking themselves in their rooms in true House on Haunted Hill fashion doesn’t help them escape the evil force.

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Linnea Quigley appears just about long enough to get completely naked and Stooge from Night of the Demons is the groundskeeper who just won’t die, leading one chick to refer to him as a demon (wink wink).

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Also, the cute main detective guy had a small role in Night of the Demons and happens to have voiced demons in all three movies…which would explain him teasingly breaking out into demon voice early in the film (awesome).

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In true 80s fashion, shit just gets weird at the end, with flying axes, a random door growing arms, some sort of ghost box, and one chick turning into the witch ghost.

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There’s also an ooey cool melting witch scene. Eat your heart out, Wizard of Oz.

THE CELLAR (1989)

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Tenney actually took over directing this film after the original director left early in production. It would be nice to see this one make it to DVD or Blu-ray because it is about as comforting as a softcore 80s creature feature can get.

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Smokin’ hot Patrick Kilpatrick (The Toxic Avenger, The Stand, The Granny, Parasomnia, The Zombinator) is shirtless for most of the movie. Wait. What I meant was, he plays a man who comes to live in a house in the middle of the desert with his new wife and baby. His son from his first marriage comes for a visit and manages to unleash a monster created by Indians year before to kill the white man for stealing their land.

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This movie is so timely even today, other than everyone calling the Native-Americans Indians, including the Indians…I mean, the Native-Americans.

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Despite the Indian character still being quite hostile towards the white man, he does try to warn the family of the threat and gives the boy tips on how to combat the creature.

cellar 1989 fire demon

The monster is actually living in their basement, yet the kid is the only one who sees it, can’t get his dad to believe him, and even gets attacked by it in a pretty damn scary scene when he’s swinging on a tire over a sinkhole in their sandbox…uh…yard.

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There are a couple of kills, but it’s always someone being dragged off screen, and with the movie focusing on a young boy figuring out how to conquer the creature on his own, it really captures the 80s tween vibe perfectly. We only see glimpses of the monster until the final battle, but it bears a striking resemblance to the Terror Dogs in the original Ghostbusters.

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This is just pure late 80s horror fun and definitely my favorite of this trio.

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About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES.

I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.

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