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Customer Review

on 1 May 2013
Dr. Julian Karswell: Listen, mother. You believe in the supernatural. I've shown you some of its power and some of its danger.

Mrs. Karswell: Yes, Julian.

Dr. Julian Karswell: Well, believe this also. You get nothing for nothing. This house, the land, the way we live. Nothing for nothing. My followers who pay for this do it out of fear. And I do what I do out of fear also. It's part of the price.

Mrs. Karswell: But if it makes you unhappy. Stop it. Give it back.

Dr. Julian Karswell: How can you give back life? I can't stop it. I can't give it back. I can't let anyone destroy this thing. I must protect myself. Because if it's not someone else's life, it'll be mine. Do you understand, mother? It'll be mine.

So goes the conversation between the occultist Julian Karswell and his mother. Played wonderfully convincingly by Niall MacGinnis and Athene Seyler respectively.

Others have talked about the locations, the actors and actresses who all did a sterling performance but really it is all too easy to underestimate this film and how invaluable this book is. As others have said Niall MacGinnis may have had a glimpse of the magnitude of what he was doing but in all fairness its doubtful most of the others didn't.

I have to mention Dana Andrews, who, when I first saw this film thought he was miscast. It's obvious he was brought in to create an American interest ready for when the film was shown overseas. But as the years go past his contribution seems to meld into the slightly offbeat and surrealism of it all.

Peggy Cummins the English actress played Joanna Harrington the daughter of the deceased Prof Harrington who came to a grisly end early in the film at the hands or should I say claws of the Demon. I don't propose to do an outline of the film here but suffice to say there are many sublime atmospheric set pieces. The whole mood is understated and menacing in the 1950s period adds to this feeling. It's a sort of halfway house between the old mediaeval superstition, practices and the emerging modern world.

The book is a marvelous cornucopia of information on the background to the film, filming locations, the making of the film, background to the scenes and much more.

Documented is the struggle between the producer and the director of whether to show the Demon or not. Films of this time needed to show the monster in order to keep audiences happy. The state of the art with regard to special effects was not conducive to suspending disbelief. Even so the makers of the Demon did a fantastic job and testament to this is that it in no way lessens the impact of the film. This to a great extent is achieved by the professionalism of the actors, the suspense that is created and the menacing believable subtext that is almost off screen.

The book adds to this and takes us on a journey through the wonderful making and construction of this supernatural masterpiece.

I don't mean to leave anybody out here but if I put down everything I wanted to say then I would be writing a book myself. So I will finish with saying that I cannot emphasise enough how essential this book is to anybody who is interested in what was a magnificent one-off and in my opinion the pinnacle of the supernatural thriller that has never been surpassed.

I will leave you with the words of Professor Mark O'Brien, one of the scientists gathered in Dr Holden's hotel room. Dr Holden played by Dana Andrews finds that the pages are missing from his diary.

"I'm a scientist also, Dr. Holden. I know the value of the cold light of reason, but I also know the deep shadows that light can cast."

I can say that is quintessentially the grip that this film can hold.
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