Night of the Demon

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        Movie Review (1957)
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        A cult classic film but could it have been even better? And where else have you heard those famous words before?

        night of the demon uk dvd

        • Actors: Dana Andrews, Maurice Denham, Niall MacGinnis, Peggy Cummins
        • Director: Jacques Tourneur
        • Format: PAL
        • Region: Region 2 (UK & Europe)
        • Number of Discs: 1

        • Classification: PG
        • Studio: Mediumrare
        • DVD Release Date: 18 Oct 2010
        • Run Time: 180 minutes

          It's in the trees! It's coming!


        American psychologist John Holden (Dana Andrews) arrives in England to discover that his colleague, Henry Harrington (Maurice Denham), has suddenly died following his efforts to discredit notorious occultist Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis). The cynical Holden dismisses Karswell's warnings as supernatural nonsense, even when he and Harrington's niece, Joanna (Peggy Cummins), are confronted by a series of bizarre and inexplicable events. Holden discovers that Karswell has slipped him a parchment featuring ancient runic symbols a sign that, like Harrington before him, he has been marked for imminent destruction by a fire-breathing demon. As the night of his threatened demise draws nearer, the fearful Holden begins to suspect that Karswell has been telling the truth all along

        Contains special features including 'Curse of the Demon', the re-edited American version.


        That is the bare-bones of the movie (also called Curse of the Demon) which doesn't do it justice. It is truly an atmospheric film - there are parts that are ethereally frightening. Those scenes through the trees are the type that once seen are never forgotten. I came to it via those famous 'It's in the trees' words which appeared years later on Kate Bush's Hounds of Love song. Someone namechecked the movie they originally came from and I had to see it. Maurice Denham was responsible for uttering those words and his performance is sadly brief but important. Indeed all the stars are good though it is Niall MacGinnis who steals the movie. What an actor. I first saw him in the John Mills wartime vehicle, We Dive At Dawn and every movie I have seen him in since then has been memorable. Here he gives the performance of his whole career. Enigmatic, creepy, arrogant, funny - he is all these things.

        Is the film a classic? Well yes but in my opinion it could have been even better. The problem, of course, is the 'demon'. Fans of the film seem to be split on its appearance; some don't mind it while others hate it. I'm in the latter camp. I know that for years after the director bemoaned the close-ups of the 'demon' and that he had been overruled by the producer. For me, it would have been better if it hadn't appeared at all, the plumes of smoke getting nearer and nearer would have sufficed with just a suggestion of an otherwordely presence being enveloped within. Or if they had to have the 'demon' then they could have kept him long-distance.

        A small gripe is the appalling continuity in some scenes. I don't usually look out at these things but they jump out at the screen at you. Surely whoever was in charge of continuity should have done a better job? I mean, that is their job after all. One of the scenes (in the train carriage near the end) is almost as bad as in The Man Who Fell To Earth where in one shot Bowie has a side parting and in the very next shot has a centre parting. You really wish with that train scene that they just keep to one camera as when the 2nd camera appears it is irritatingly obvious it was done at another time.

        In fact, watching this film more than once you constantly pick up on how bad the continuity is. There are scene upon scene where it is wrong. Just picked up on the scene where Holden is chatting with Professors Mark O'Brien and Kumar in his hotel room. One moment Holden's arm is resting on the sofa's sidearm then cut to another shot and it is resting next to the sidearm; next shot on the sidearm etc. etc. Really does let the film down.

        If you spot errors (and you will) let me know here and I'll add them. Never seen a film like that is a classic but nevertheless has so many errors.

        But it's a minor gripe for a movie that bears repeated viewing.


        D V D

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