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Horror - Demons

Night of the Demon (1957)

Duration1h 35mRating (UK)PG
Source of storyWhile not being exactly the same follows the story of “The Casting of the Runes” by M.R.James
DirectorJacques Tourneur
Writers/ScriptCharles Bennett, Hal E. Chester
StarringDana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Maurice Denham, Brian Wilde,

Elevator Pitch: An American psychologist, Dr John Holden is recruited to join a British academic, Prof Harrington, to investigate the activities of a demonic cult led by Julian Karswell. But before they can meet, Harrington pleads with Karswell to call off the curse that has been placed on him, to no avail. An enormous demon kills him. Holden meets with Harrington’s daughter; together they investigate Karswell and despite constant supernatural events refuse to believe the evidence, until a maniac is hypnotised, revealing the existence of the demon and how it might be dealt with. But Holden realises he is marked since he finds that Karswell has passed a runic message to him. Can he survive?

Content: We see the demon in almost the first scene as Prof Harrington is killed and thereafter Holden and Joanna, Harrington’s daughter drive about. They go to Stonehenge, where they find evidence and visit the maniac’s family, an inbred bunch in a gloomy farmhouse. When Holden breaks into Karswell’s house in search of the original book of spells, which had been stolen from the British library, he is discovered, and only saved from a mauling by a cat which has turned into a jaguar, by Karswell himself. The duo also take part in a séance organised by Karswell’s mother, Joanna’s father being recalled.

A View: This film scared my a lot when I saw it in the cinema, but now it creaks a bit. Both people involved in the production, and the critics were in some disagreement as to whether the demon should actually be seen, and unusually it appears at the beginning, so we are never in any doubt, altering the dynamic of the movie a lot, since Holden’s demise now seems to be inevitable. However, most critics who saw it gave it a thumbs up. The music is overdramatic, but if you keep the sound down, worth a view, particularly since it is available on Youtube.

Additional Info: I collect interesting cars in films and the one driven by Joanna in this film is particularly interesting. It is an Alvis TB 21 two seater. Only 31 were made all in 1951.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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