Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays: Curse of the Demon/Night of the Demon (1957)

Since I started the week off with a tea theme, I thought it would be appropriate to review a proper British horror movie here, to watch accompanied by a fortifying pot of tea.  Originally released in Great Britain as "Night of the Demon", this 1957 movie was re-released in the United States as "Curse of the Demon".  Dana Andrews plays Dr. John Holden, an American psychologist who specializes in debunking allegedly paranormal phenomena.  He travels to England for a conference on the subject, only to find that his collaborator, Professor Henry Harrington, has died in a horrible accident under mysterious circumstances.  Holden and Harrington were to expose as a fraud one Mr. Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis), a supposed satanic cult leader.  Dr. Holden happens to meet the man at the British Museum, where Karswell requests that Holden cease his investigation.  Holden refuses, and is warned that he will regret that decision.  At first Dr. Holden does not take the threat seriously, but after meeting Professor Harrington's niece, Joanna (Peggy Cummins), and experiencing strange and frightening events, he eventually comes to believe that Julian Karswell truly does have the ability to summon the devil, and must find a way to escape from Karswell's curse.

This movie was directed by the highly acclaimed Jacques Tourneur, whose original intent was to rely solely on the suggestion of a demon rather than an actual presence.  The producer disagreed, and added two scenes which show a demon.  There are many who feel that these scenes detract from rather than enhance the film, but most agree that the rest of movie is very well done -- I especially like the scenes where Holden and some of his fellow conference attendees discuss whether or not the devil truly does exist.  The movie is based on a story by British writer M. R. James called "Casting the Runes".  James is considered one of the finest writers of supernatural fiction, and this tale is among his best.  "Curse of the Demon" is another film that should be seen by anyone who loves a good scare.

Karswell's mother even offers a cup of tea to Professor Harrington, which Karswell quickly vetoes, but I am sure she would be happy to offer the same to us as we watch this scary British film about ancient cults and curses!

Interesting Fact:  This movie as well as the previous three I have reviewed ("The Uninvited", "Dead of Night", and "The Haunting") are all on director Martin Scorsese's list of "11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time".

Gore Guide (0=none to 5=extreme): 0

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