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4.7 out of 5 stars
Night of the Demon (1957) [DVD]
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2011
Incredible film, well worth the wait, but what a pity we did have to wait so long.

Regarding the Demon debate, whether or not it should have been shown, Tony Earnshaw's book on the making of the film, Beating the Devil, covers the matter pretty well, including some quotes from Tourneur and other crew members that seem to be contradictory; that is, in most places he seems adamant that the demon did not appear by his design, but in one or two others it seems that he was not just aware, but also active in placing it within the film. Personally, I suspect that the truth can be found by watching the film itself. There are two elements to the Demon special effect: the long shot, which is absolutely stunning, particularly given the low budget on which it was achieved; the other is a rather pathetic man in a monster suit, which appears very briefly, and could be seen as justification of Tourneur's repugnance for the appearance of the Demon. I have no doubt it is only these few dozen frames featuring the rubber clad SFX man that could have caused the director's consternation. The shame of it is that they could easily have been left out without affecting the film in anything but a positive manner.

MAKE NO MISTAKE - The appearance of the Demon is incredible, adding to and complimenting the film, and ultimately being the thing that stamps the film in the mind. Without it, the film would have still been great, but I suspect it would not have fascinated so many minds for so many years. Any pseudo intellectual babble about it spoiling the film in any way is ill conceived. It is only a few frames that do the damage, not the presence of the demon itself, and they are not enough to take away from the over all effect.

In my opinion, the appearance of the Demon is one of the most brilliant realisations of a film monster in any movie of any time, and one of the most striking scenes in movies full stop.

Tony Earnshaw's book is an excellent companion to the film, though I suggest watching it before reading the book, and then watching again.

But whatever happens, make sure you do watch it!
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83 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2010
I don't normally write these reviews, but I could not let this go without awarding it 5 stars. It's my all time top film and has been for many years. I can recite the words along with the film, have visited Bricket Wood station just because the finale was filmed there. I could go on and on - but I won't.
If you have never watched this film before, you are in for a wonderful atmospheric horror movie that oozes atmosphere. If you have seen it - you'll know just how brilliant it is!
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94 of 99 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 August 2007
Night of the Demon is one of the greatest films of the 1950's. A cult classic that holds up to repeated viewings. The film is based on the M R James story 'Cast the Runes' and features Dana Andrews as John Holden, a sceptical psychologist who scepticism begins to ebb away after he meets Dr Julian Karswell.

Karswell is played brilliantly by Niall MacGinnis and there are a number of marvellous scenes between Holden and Karswell. Perhaps the best being a scene in the London Library. Of the remaining cast Maurice Denham is deserving of mention for his small but crucial role as Professor Harrington.

Although it is often quoted that the director Jacques Tournier did not want the Demon shown in the film at all, but bowed to pressure from the producers, the Demon when it appears is a remarkable special effects creation for 1957. Tournier was probably right but it doesn't spoil the film that much.

Originally there were two versions of this film an American cut called 'Curse of the Demon' which ran to 82mins and the British cut 'Night of the Demon' which ran to 95mins. The version on this DVD seems to be closer to the British cut.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 13 September 2010
This film is simply exellent.
I first saw this film on television in the 80's when BBC2 used to show a double bill of horror films on Saturday nights.
This dvd features both the U.K and the U.S versions of the film. The U.K version runs longer.

Highly recommended !!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Ive been waiting for an age it seems for a hd release of this classic film, and while a quite expensive French limited edition is available, the price put me off. So when this release came up I thought I would give it a go.
Im glad to say that the picture quality is fantastic and is much improved over the dvd I have.Really sharp and clear, with nice shades oc black, grey and white.The crispness is very clear.It is as easy as pie to select the english audio and bam there it is, the original soundtrack.So be assured if you want this all time genre classic in its best image to date then I can heartily recomend this release.No extras at all, but that is compensated for by this quality release.So no US release incl.I would even say the image is better than Dead Of Night, another classic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Dr. John Holden arrives in England to attend a paranormal convention where the recently deceased Professor Harrington had intended to expose Dr. Julian Karswell as being the leader of satanic cult. Upon learning of Harrington's death, Holden finds that the only link to the mysterious death and Karswell's alleged cult is an accused murderer called Rand Hobart, who is currently in a catatonic state. While Harrington's niece Joanna is convinced her uncle was felled by supernatural forces, Holden sets about debunking it all as pure hogwash. Something that may yet prove to be fatal to his well being?

Prior to 1957, director Jacques Tourneur could boast on his résumé psychological horror classics I Walked With A Zombie & Cat People, the simmering pot boiling Western Canyon Passage and the rightly heralded film-noir piece that is Out Of The Past. He was in short the perfect choice to direct this loose adaptation of M.R. James' story "Casting the Runes". Why then? That producer Hal E. Chester chose to interfere and not let Tourneur have full rein to deliver a supernatural picture that is more about what you don't see is actually what scares you? Is open for scornful debate.

The problem, and the source of much discussion over the years, concerns the demon of the title. Goofy looking and at once taking away the quizzical factor for the audience, Chester had the demon appear both at the beginning and the end of the piece. It was also featured heavily in the film's advertising material (it's on the poster for instance), which quite frankly killed off the minuscule chance the less than scary vision had of shocking the audience. It's now all the years later considered across the board that it would have been better to not have seen the demon at all, certainly at the least to not see it at the beginning of the film.

Thankfully though, and with much credit to Tourneur, his team and the cast, Night Of The Demon is still a nerve pulling piece of work that shines bright today as a true classic horror picture. After the demon has shown its unremarkable face, we follow Holden (a knowingly effective and stoic turn from Dana Andrews) as he delves deeper into murky waters that he's convinced do not exist. Only to realise he's in a devilish trap laid by the creepy Karswell (Niall MacGinnis), a trap from which he must escape or face the dire consequence.

The tension has been built up beautifully by Tourneur, tension given an added dimension by Ken Adam's spookily adroit set designs. So come the glorious train station finale, nobody can be quite sure what will happen, and this in spite of us knowing the existence of the said demon thanks to the appearance of "it" at the beginning. The film was cut by 12 minutes and retitled Curse Of the Demon for the American market, but both versions have readily been available in disc form in the US. Odd then that in the country where the film is proudly called one of its own better horror entries, it had to wait till 2010 for a home disc release! That is almost as criminal as Chester's insistence on the demon appearing at the start of the film. Only almost mind you. 9/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2011
I read a review of this in the Telegraph's DVD section. I must confess I'm always a bit wary of movies that are described as classics as so often I find them a little disappointing. Not so with "Night of the Demon". It really does deserve that title.

I've come across the plot before - sceptic faces supernatural power and continues to doubt in the face of mounting evidence - but this is nevertheless handled in a sophisticated and original way.

The characters are well observed, from the slightly batty Karzwell (played by Niall McGinns) to the wonderful Dana Andrews. With his cognac-and-cigarettes voice and strong screen presence he holds the film, making it utterly convincing. How come I've never heard of him before? He deserves to be a much more recognised star of yesteryear.

The visuals are striking with a strong use of light and shadow. The film also has a very modern feel to it and manages to create a genuinely creepy and unsettling atmosphere - more so than many current horror films. The score is also very good.

The demon is about the only weak link in the film - though the effects (by the superbly named SD Onions) can be forgiven given the age of the film and do lend a certain quaintness to the proceedings that seems entirely in keeping.

Overall: superb. If you're in two minds whether to buy/watch this put your concerns to one side and get hold of a copy straight away.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
I first saw this cult classic in a cinema in Chatham during the mid 1960s, and to this day it remains one of my favourite films.

It is a dark, brooding film, with much suspense throughout as an American psychologist (played by Dana Andrews who spent most nights in night clubs until the early hours whilst making this film)investigates the death of a colleague and friend who had died in mysterious circumstances.

Aided by his colleague's daughter played by the lovely Peggy Cummins they discover that Karswell, played by Niall McGuinness has the ability to remove his enemies by delivering a sacred parchment which can summon up a demon.

There is much drama and suspense in this film as the psychologist struggles to come to terms with the possibility that demonology is possible despite his deep sceptiscm. The final scenes are some of the highlights of the film, and worth the price alone.

Wonderfully directed by Jacques Tourneuer who was in dispute with the studio when they wanted to show the demon too early in the film. This, he felt robbed the film of some of its initial suspense. No matter though, it is still pretty good, and does work well despite the director's misgivings.

The DVD contains both versions, the American version Curse of The Demon is much shorter by about 11 minutes. Not actually having seen this version, I cannot comment. Still, I will imagine that it is worth seeing in order to compare the two versions.

I am pleased that this is finally being released in the UK. It has been a scandal that this has been held back for so long bearing in mind the classic it is. UK film fans will welcome this with open arms.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2010
I saw this film in the '60s when I was a young boy and I thought it was the scariest, most atmospheric and creepy film ever.
Scene after scene still send shivers down my spine! The scene in the woods when the demon is chasing Dana Andrews (footsteps only) is still clear in my memory; I can't wait to own a copy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2015
M.R. James is the master ghost story writer. Even if his (Edwardian) style has dated, he has a sense of evil to match his namesake William, brother of Henry. This film is an interpretation of 'Casting The Runes' in which the narrator is involved with a sinister scholar of the occult, one Carswell, who writes obsessively about alchemy, to a journal whose rejections invariable precede their authors' demise.
Loosely adapted from James's tale and our hero an American, unlike the Englishman of the original, played by Dana Andrews this story is beautifully shot by Tourneur - exiled by McCarthyism, our gain - in a noirish black and white, the Devil is occluded for almost all of the film, imagistic and plot hints the only signs of the trouble's cause. Carswell, who places curse-slips on his 'enemies' - the 'Runes' of the story are the papers on which they are written - is played as a sometime clown with a sometimes jovial, sometimes menacing mien well suited to a tale of the unfolding of evil. Clowns are, in any case, often ambiguous figures. The Demon itself has a menace inversely proportionate to its appearance, indeed I found the creaking as of unoiled wheels int the woods scene scarier than all but its final appearance (about its first one, the less said the better, but take a look at the DVD cover and you will see it is none-too-subtle...in fact it is a disgrace).
It remains a classy film and an influential one. Cited by no less than Kate Bush as an influence, this admirably showcases Tourneur's huge talent. Like the similarly exiled Cy 'Zulu' Enfield, America's loss was our gain and this is the marvellous Tourneur's, erm, tour de force. Well acted, tautly plotted and sharply filmed, one for all the senses, including your sixth.
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