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Night of the Demon
Who will be the next in line to defy the curse?
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…
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.…
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.
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…
Inspector: "Spare me a minute sir, there's a doctor John Holden outside sir."
Superintendent: "The psychology chap?"
Inspector: "That's it sir. It's, um, a bit awkward- he's uh… it seem's he's bewitched, you know, broomsticks and all that. Think's he's being followed by something. Apparently he's going to die tomorrow night."
Tourneur brings his trademark atmospheric touch to this British supernatural mystery thriller. Dana Andrews is the hard-headed American non-believer investigating a mysterious death linked to a wealthy practitioner of the dark arts. Aside from the rubber creature effects, it's very much a throwback to pulp 1930's-style haunted house investigation stories. Unlike the classic gothic mystery, the villain is not unmasked, Scooby-Doo-like, to reveal a mundane cause for the suspected…
This classic I'd missed about demons, curses and black magic is scripted pretty lightweight, but excels in the hands of director Jacques Tourneur. Comparisons to Hammer's The Devil Rides Out, made ten years down the line, is easy to make, and all us Kate Bush fans will get a kick out of hearing what "It's in the trees. It's coming" actually is about.
It has a cheesy demon that only appears briefly, an annoyingly obtuse protagonist, and an overwhelmingly slow crawl that is redeemed only by a few scattered scenes of actual tension and the first truly effective jump scare I've seen in a film of its age.
Niall MacGinnis and his beard make for one of the most deliciously sinister villains in horror movie history. This philosophical shocker about skepticism vs. genuine evil's major shortcoming has been well-documented by now. But don't ignore just how brilliant and sophisticated Tourneur's direction is; it's not only focused on its creep ambiance, but also on the relationship between Andrews and Cummins. Also: cat!
Whilst the film features a dull screenplay with cartoony characters, Night of the Demon is saved by some gorgeous lighting, cinematography, special effects, and direction from Jacques Tourneur. Whilst it may not be as scary as it claims to be, there are still some good chills to be had in this 1957 horror classic.
A tightly, perfectly constructed horror film, with great cinematography (Ted Scaife) and production design (Ken Adam, of Bond fame!). In its story of a hard-edged American sceptic confronted with European supernatural folklore it's a bit reminiscent of The Wolf Man, but while the Universal monster movies were typified by Gothic excess here I appreciated the verisimilitude of the setting and characters, along with a psychological ambiguity that was sadly apparently too ambitious for the studio. (Interestingly, despite its rightly famous make-up effects and transformations, the thing that has stuck with the most from The Wolf Man is also psychological, seeing Larry Talbot in human form losing his mind realising what he has become.)
This would be, at least for the time being, the oldest horror I have seen that was still scary. Plus, I would be interested to know how this film fared as a source of inspiration for other filmmakers to come. I would be lying if I didn't say that "Night of the demon" evoked some seriously sinister vibes characteristic for films like "Rosemary's Baby", "The Omen" and others. Coupled with very powerful and at times deafening score (whose contemporary themes reminded me at times of "Under the skin"), interesting framing and Hitchcockian cinematography, "Night of the demon" was quite and experience. Morbid, creepy, scary and jumpy... The whole caboodle.
If a good movie is 3 good scenes and no bad ones, then Night of the Demon is certainly a good movie.
Tension is built up throughout the film, and the narrative device used to build tension is laid out very early on, this means that good direction and acting are imperative if the film wants to keep us watching.
Fortunately both of those things are here in spades, dramatic noir lighting and very deliberate blocking keep scenes interesting to look at, while sly use of the 180 degree and keeping certain characters to certain sides of the frame provide subtle hints and clues revealing ulterior motives and deciding who has the power during the scene. The use of long…
Based on the classic M. R. James ghost story “Casting the Runes”, Jacques Tourneur’s "Night of the Demon" is one of the all-time great British horror films. The film begins with an American psychologist John Holden (Dana Andrews) visiting a London symposium aimed at to exposing the fraudulent nature of the occult with a particular focus on cult leader Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis). When symposium leader, Henry Harrington (Maurice Denham) dies in mysterious circumstances his niece Joanna (Peggy Cummins) tries to convince Holden that Karswell killed Harrington via a runic curse. She persuades Holden to look at a mysterious old tome and they visit Karswell at his country estate. Both Karswell and his mother warn Holden off, but his analytical…
Worth watching alone for the iconic titular demon approaching from out of the darkness. Oh, and don't mess with devil cults.
a list that is trying to contain every horror film made that is not lost and is found on the…