Night of the Demon DVD
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Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Produced in 1957
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Dana Andrews stars as the American psychologist who sets out to debunk Niall MacGinnis’s self-styled satanist. James Oliver cowers as strange things start to happening...
'It's in the trees! It's coming!'
When the witching hour approaches and talk turns to the greatest scary movies, some titles are unavoidable. One such is Night of Demon. Adapted by frequent Hitchcock accomplice Charles Bennett from M.R. James' short story Casting The Runes, and directed by the great Jacques Tourneur (most famous for I Walked With A Zombie), this British film is one of the absolute triumphs of genre cinema.
Our hero is Dr. John Holden (Andrews). He's come to Britain to attend a conference on paranormal psychology and, while he's in the neighbourhood, debunk self-styled occultist Julian Karswell, who Holden maintains is a great big humbug.
But Holden is not the first to want to discredit Karswell: those who try have an unfortunate habit of dying in bizarre accidents. Karswell claims to have hexed them and tells Holden he's next. At first Holden ignores the threat but can't deny some very strange things are happening. Can there really be a hell hound on his trail? And is it too late to call it off?
Night of the Demon is a contemporary of the Hammer horrors but couldn't be more different in either approach or impact. There's nothing remotely lurid about this film; there's none of the camp excess that taints Hammer's legacy. Tourneur plays things with complete sincerity, creating an atmosphere far more unnerving than facile shock tactics.
Perhaps Tourneur's most important decision, though, was to cast Niall MacGinnis as Karswell. MacGinnis was a naturally warm actor and his bonhomie only makes Karswell all the more dangerous, equally capable of entertaining children and summoning up a demon from hell.
The demon itself has been a bone of contention over the years; neither Bennett nor Tourneur wanted to show it, maintaining that what the audience couldn't see was scarier. But it's one of the few movie monsters that's genuinely threatening – a palpable menace that pushes the film to an electrifying climax.
Unavailable in its native land for far too long, Night of the Demon returns to take its rightful place in the horror pantheon. Don't have nightmares.
James Oliver on 27th September 2010
Author of 146 reviews
A classic slice of 1950s psychological horror, Night of the Demon stars Dana Andrews as American psychologist Dr John Holden, who arrives in London to attend a paranormal psychology symposium with the aim of exposing devil cult leader Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis) as a charlatan and a fraud. On his arrival, Holden learns that the leader of the symposium, Henry Harrington (Maurice Denham), has suddenly died in mysterious circumstances - but Holden, a hardened sceptic, refuses to believe that Karswell could have had a hand in this, and accepts an invitation to stay at Karswell's estate along with Harrington's niece, Joanna (Peggy Cummins). Once there, however, a series of strange occurrences begins by which even the sceptical Holden becomes disturbed...
Publisher: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Length: 90 mins
Cat No: FHED2773
Format: DVD B&W
- Bonus Feature: Curse of the Demon (US Version of film).