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on 5 February 2018
‘Night of the Demon’ has been one of my all-time favourite movies since I first saw it as an impressionable youngster, and I finally have it on a DVD that does it proud. (This review is for the MediumRare / Sony / Columbia Pictures release.)
The original UK version of the film is presented here in widescreen, alongside a fascinating shorter version (retitled ‘Curse of the Demon’) that was put together for the US market.
Expanded from the MR James story ‘Casting the Runes’, the film has been the subject of much discussion since it was made in the 1950s, and plenty of this information is distilled in a very good booklet, from the development of the original ‘Haunted’ script, to casting, locations, and the practicalities of making the movie; plus it mentions the ‘controversy’ regarding the special effects, and the appearance of the demon.
Personally, I think the demon effects are fairly well executed, and add greatly to the movie. (‘Dana Andrews grappling with a stuffed leopard’ is by far the most embarrassing moment.) Otherwise it’s such a superlative film, with plenty of spooky set pieces, and dark humour (e.g. the seance scene with Reginald Beckwith) that one can forgive these limitations to the special effects.
The film benefits from being well-cast too - though surely Niall MacGinnis, as the warlock Karswell, steals the show. Funnily enough, he’s in another of my favourite childhood movies ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ where he plays none other than Zeus (!)

Clifton Parker’s score is also an asset, and for those interested in hearing the theme music in modern stereo there’s an excellent performance by the BBC Concert Orchestra (on the Chandos label, 2005). You can find it here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001MVCYQ4/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk15
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on 30 November 2017
Like Dead of Night, this film enthralled and scared me as a child! Love it!
Intelligent, clever dialogue and a great suspenseful story. Modern viewers will find the monster laughable when it’s eventually seen (and it would be interesting to see what modern special FX could do) but the build up is gripping!
I love the children’s party scene!
Notice the line “It’s in the trees!” which is used (taken from the film) at the beginning of Kate Bush’s song Hounds of Love.
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on 2 November 2017
Although I give the film itself 5 stars (one of my all-time favourites), this Spanish BluRay appears to be a pirated version.
The BD is actually a BD-R and the film is juddery in parts.

Beware.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 May 2011
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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on 4 July 2015
I can only endorse all the reviews here; simply THE best black & white horror movie of all time (and better for it!). Indeed, one of the greats, full stop!
Stunning atmosphere, locations & cinematography. Taut direction, and a lesson in editing!
The Demon FX are kept to a minimum, mostly letting the imagination do the work, but the giant Demon when briefly glimpsed itself is impressive for 1957.
Great acting all round, and good face offs between Dr Holden (Dana Andrews) and the wonderfully sinister Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis).
So many classic scenes; the children's party at the Karswell estate that turns VERY stormy, Dana Andrews' nocturnal walk through a bedevilled wood, the Demon's first vicious attack, the first meeting of Holden & Karswell..
An absolute masterclass of occult cinema.
And how can any film fail that opens with such atmospheric shots of Stonehenge? (Bit like the Standing Stones in the ITV drama, Children Of The Stones).

In the words of Julian Karswell, "You Get Nothing For Nothing"...
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on 3 November 2017
Absolutely brilliant showing once again you dont need millions of pounds of special effects to make a classic. A good story top acting and class directing and producing will suffice. This should be used to show todays would be super producers how to do the job
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on 30 August 2017
This film is a golden oldie for me. To be viewed on a dark night with the wind blowing and rain beating against the window. Which is how I first watched it on a monochrome tv set, in the dark with the coal fire providing ambient light in the room.
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on 24 March 2011
Psychologist John Holden (Dana Andrews)is flying to London to attend a sceptics' conference on superstition. On landing, he discovers that his British colleague Henry Harrington (Maurice Denham) has died suddenly after investigating an occult society headed by Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis).
Confronted by Karswell, Holden refuses to retract his and Harrington's paper on Karswell's cult and is cursed, just as Harrington was cursed shortly before his death.

Night of the Demon is a classic of the 1950's, albeit a flawed one. It's good points are Dana Andrews's portrayal of the hard-boiled sceptic, as his certainties begin to crumble and Niall MacGinnis as Karswell, the affable yet dangerously powerful magician. The plot development is unhurried, yet gripping and the effects, for their time, are very well done-possible aided by the black and white film-stock.
However, as to it's bad points: the main problem with the film is that right from the start we get to see the demon. It would have been much better in terms of the films dramatic tension if we only saw the victims reaction to this impossible horror. The same criticism applies to the ending-a quick glimpse would have been enough and left a much more profound impression. Having said this, it is a very good film-just not the great one it could have been.
The extra's are good, including stills from the film and the American edit of the film retitled Curse of the Demon. There is also a 24 page booklet detailing the making of the film and the personalities involved. All things considered, this film is well worth the watching.
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on 22 May 2016
this film gave me nightmares as a child, the demon I drempt
about for weeks. Having watched it recently and at night
still makes you think, and put your head under the covers.
I loved it! Brilliant film classic. English version is much
better than the american and slightly longer. You get
both on this dvd. Worth a look and to add into your
collection of horror movies.
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on 31 March 2011
Professor Halliwell(Maurice Denham) is killed on the eve of a seminar where he was planning an expose of a Satanist cult led by Dr. Julian Karswell(Niall MacGiness). Psychologist Dr John Holden(Dana Andrews) arrives in the U.K from the United States, and whilst shocked at Halliwell's death, he is determined to carry on his colleague's work. Despite Karswell's attempts to warn him off, Holden laughs off evidence of the supernatural, so Karswell decides to teach him a very deadly lesson, informing the Doubting Thomas scientist that he will die in three days time at exactly ten in the morning. Holden continues to scoff but is soon forced to re-examine his scepticism as strange things start to happen to him. Holden has three days to break the devilish curse that Karswell has invoked.
This film, finally getting a long overdue Region 2 release is undoubtedly one of the finest British horror films, and could possibly be one of the best British films ever made. It is a triumph all round, a literate, chilling adaptation of M.R James's 'Casting The Runes'. That it still remains such an important landmark till this day is due to Jacques Tourneur's faultless direction, and to the performance of MacGiness, who here delivers a perfect portrayal of mannered evil, turning what is in essence a very dislikeable character into such a sympathetic figure. Karswell is kind to his mother, loved by the children he entertains with his magic tricks, and oh every now and again he has to destroy an individual who threatens his pampered existance. Holden, on the other hand, capably played by Dana Andrews, annoys with his dogged scepticism, only finally seeing the light(or rather the dark) during a nightmare journey through the woods. Even then he still scoffs at some of Karswell's notions.
Basically both Holden and Karswell are different sides of the same coin, shown in Holden's hypnotising of Hobart during the seminar. Both men use 'magic' to further their ends. This scene which leads to Hobart plummeting to his death is one of many standout sequences in the film. Too many to mention in fact, but a couple of highlights are Karswell and Holden's initial meeting in the library, the afore mentioned woodland walk and a creepy seance organised by Karswell's concerned mother.
Apprently Tourneur and producer Hal Chester clashed over whether to show a physical demon or to leave it to the audience's imagination. Whilst the demon's footprints in the wood are a perfect realisation of supernatural evil, the actual demon that bookends the film doesn't detract from this viewer's enjoyment one bit.
My only criticism would be the lack of extras, the best of which is the accompanying booklet/viewing notes wriiten by Joanthan Rigby and Marcus Hearn. The extras on the disc are disappointing with only the bastardised U.S release 'Curse Of The Demon' and a stills gallery on offer. It would have been nice to have a documentary on British horror for instance. Despite the fact it's rather bare bones release, this remains an essential purchase for anyone purporting to be a fan of the horror film. 5 out of 5
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