Thursday, 21 July 2011

Review - Night of the Demon UK/Curse of the Demon US (1957 - Dir. Jacques Tourneur)

Let's get it out of the way right from the start. The demon. It seems to polarize so many people. I don't mind the special effects. For the time, the creature and the smoke effects are okay. But should they have been used story-wise? If the first early sighting was cut, the film would have been improved massively. You would then be unsure as to whether something supernatural was happening or not, along with the main character. I could have lived without seeing the demon at the end too; it would have left an ambiguous end that would have been more satisfying. The star (Dana Andrews - bit of a girl's name there), writer and director were all against the inclusion of the demon. A studio ruining a perfectly good film - that's a shocker.

Now that's out of the way, what makes people watch and enjoy this film even now? Dr John Holden is sent to investigate a cult, led by the fantastically evil bearded Dr Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis). He soon finds himself cursed and has a date set for his death by demon mouth. 

Dr Holden is typically cynical to start with, but slowly changes his mind through the course of the film. A scene involving the pointy bearded doctor supposedly starting a typhoon sets the seed of doubt. It is great to see him become more convinced and eventually try to relieve himself of the curse. The method of getting rid of the curse provides one of the cleverest and funniest parts.

Thrown in there, you also get a fantastic performance by Brian Wilde (Porridge, Last of the Summer Wine) as another deranged, near-victim of the demon. I was surprised at how good an actor he was.

It would be brilliant if they released a 'Director's Cut' of this as an extra. We know what the director wanted, so it would be possible. You could up the rating by another two or three points.

If you like this you could also try:
The Haunting, Quatermass and the Pit, Dead of Night.

1 comment:

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