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aka - Curse Of The Demon
United Kingdom 1957
Directed by
Jacques Tourneur
91 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Night Of The Demon

Jacques Tourneur is best known for Cat People (1942) and I Walked With A Zombie (1943), films which even non-fansof B grade horror will appreciate for their genre-atypical deftness and emphasis on the psychological rather than the physical. Night Of The Demon is a return to more standard genre fare. Dana Andrews, clearly fallen from his glory days as a leading man of the '40s, plays Dr. John Holden, an American psychologist visiting England to attend a scientific symposium investigating the paranormal and in particular a cult led by Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis). En route he meets kindergarten teacher Joanna Harrington (Peggy Cummins), whose uncle (Maurice Denham) was leading the exposé and whose mutilated body was found on the day of their arrival.

Loosely based on the short story, Casting The Runes, by M.R. James, who modelled the Karswell character on the infamous self-styled occultist, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the film has a very 1930s feel to it and it is not surprising that the principal screenwriter was Charles Bennett who was writer for quite a few of Hitchcock’s British film, notably The 39 Steps (1935) which similarly features an intrepid couple pitted against an evil mastermind. The result is very much in the B grade style, with little in the way of attention to detail and a typology of familiar characters. Niall MacGinnis’s Karswell adds a bit of charming villainy but Andrews’ arch rationalist Holden keeps droning on about charlatanism to the point that one wishes the monster would come and tear him limb from limb.

To be fair to Tourneur, producer Hal E. Chester, who also gets a writing credit, probably bent the film unduly his own way by insisting that the demon get more literal exposure than Tourneur wanted.  But equally there are plenty of other shortcomings (like how come the police don't find any trace of a 30ft slavering monster) that means that the film will appeal largely to aficionadi of B movies rather than viewers at large.

For its American release the film was shortened by 14 mins and retitled Curse Of The Demon and was shown as the bottom half of a double bill with Hammer’s Revenge Of Frankenstein.

DVD Extras: Digitally remastered widescreen version of the original UK release; Curse Of The Demon, the US release version;  24 page illustrated booklet about the making of the fim; Stills gallery.

Available from: Shock Entertainment




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