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American professor John Holden arrives in London for a conference on parapsychology only to discover that the colleague he was supposed to meet was killed in a freak accident the day before. It turns out that the deceased had been investigating a cult lead by Dr. Julian Karswell. Though a skeptic, Holden is suspicious of the devil-worshiping Karswell. Following a trail of mysterious manuscripts, Holden enters a world that makes him question his faith in science.
This is one of Danny Peary's 200 movies in his 3 Volume Book series....Cult Movies. Night of the Demon is the 98 minute version from England....Curse of the Demon is the title the movie got when it was released in North America...with about 15 minutes missing from the UK version.
I must have watched the North American version a few years ago, because I was not too impressed with the movie. This time around I thought the longer UK version is an excellent movie. In this one Dana Andrews travels to London to attend a paranormal psychology symposium with the intention to expose devil cult leader, Dr. Julian Karswell (played excellently by Niall MacGinnis). Andrews does not believe in the…
You could learn a lot from children. They believe in things in the dark, although we tell them it's not so. Maybe we've been fooling them.
- Joanna Harrington
Tourneur creates labyrinths out of a few corridors in his first 'horror' film in around about a decade. It's a nightmarish old tale of witchcraft and demons which is obsessed with the absence of facts or knowledge, and there's hardly any distinction between interiors and exteriors - they're both equally dark and hostile. I have a particular disliking for the 'obstinate professor' character type but Andrews is a more than compelling actor and MacGinnis' demonic cult leader acts as a great contrast too. The titular demon is an…
"Maybe it's better not to know..."
Reason descends into an abyss; Tourneur ably mitigates the FX/monster movie elements with a tract on horrific noumena. The audience is never given room to doubt that which is unknown to the protagonist; the creepy truth surfaces often in minute onscreen reveals (a hand on a banister, smoke among treetops, paper fluttering against the wind). Eventually skepticism falters, and the film nullifies all attempts at rational control through knowledge. At least as good as Cat People, and definitely scarier (to me, anyways).
Essentially an expansion on the perennial theme of Tourneur's earlier horror movies with Val Lewton - the conflict and ambiguity between logic and the supernatural, but less elegant (and, with those genuinely scary shots of the actual demon, much less ambiguous!) than any of those. Still pleasantly relentless in its slow tightening of the noose around Dana Andrews' neck, almost like in a Cornell Woolrich story, and it's kind of funny how his stubbornness in the face of such blatant evidence that he's been hexed starts to seem like the exact opposite of the scientific empiricism he's going for.
I wonder if Chris Carter ever caught this film before he created The X Files?
The reason I ask is not because there are massive similarities between this and his landmark TV series. It's more to do with the way the two main characters are handled and how they differ not only in their beliefs but how they continue to staunchly retain those beliefs even in the face of sometimes overwhelming evidence.
So, for every peculiar event that Dana Andrews, an American psychologist who has travelled to the UK to expose a self-styled 'wizard' and possible Satan worshipper as a fraud, he never caves in to admitting to what might be going on.…
An American hypnotherapist travels to England to host a lecture on the myths of Witchcraft and Devil Worship and how they affect people on a deep psychological level. In order to achieve that, he and his colleagues are set to discredit a well known witch doctor/black magician, an idea that results in some of them hexed and doomed to be destroyed by a fire demon from hell.
Filled with references to black magic, demonology and the occult, 'Night of the Demon' is the kind of movie I would have expected to see in the late 60s or early 70s, but not in the fifties. The battle between belief and skepticism begins in an academic level and slowly turns in to…
Screening at Exeter Picturehouse.
Shown as part of A Warning To The Curious: Ghost Stories At Christmas, a short season of films inspired by M R James and Charles Dickens.
"Maybe it's better not to know"
Tourneur lowkey maybe the actual greatest of all time
Thought at the beginning that I'd found my least favorite Tourneur and then it started to forget itself, corridors begun to refract into channels of memory only to be discarded as irrelevant information, only to be picked up later as digested and regurgitated imagery.
One of my favorite things to see in a movie are academics partaking of spirits and smoking cigarettes while discussing the supernatural. It just tickles my fancy.
Would make a good double-feature paired with Sam Raimi's DRAG ME TO HELL...both films are very similar.
As its basis it has adapted a very good story by MR James. Except for some story back filling scenes involving Andrews and Cummings there is little respite from the dark or murky interiors/exteriors. The Demon only appears a couple of times (today's film makers would have had it in every second scene) but such is its menace that is enough.
Andrews acts a know all prig but thankfully doesn't get all his own way. There is a very good British supporting cast to add character to the overall performance.
Night of the Demon is super creepy. Its British pagan setting is genuinely unsettling and the absurdist comedy it finds in a life with an expiry date does nothing to undermine this. If anything could undermine the film, it would be the titular creature itself. An impressive, cool monster, it nonetheless looks like a puppet and jars with the film surrounding it. However, the film does not fail just because the monster looks silly. Like the intentionally funny bits: the seance gone wrong, the villain dressed like a clown, the hero's unflappable rationality in the face of the irrational, the unintentional silliness of the demon simply adds to the uncanniness.
Movies that are slightly off.