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DVD Review

DVD cover

Night of the Demon


Starring: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis and Athene Seyler
Mediumrare Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 18 October 2010

Psychologist John Holden arrives in England from America, only to be informed that his contact, Professor Harrington has been killed in an accident. As part of his investigation into the occult, Harrington had been about to expose the eminent Doctor Karswell as a Devil-worshipping back magic cultist. Harrington’s daughter, Joanna, is convinced that Karswell had her father killed by summoning a demon. A practical man, Holden is wholly unconvinced. However, he does intend to continue Harrington’s work, and that includes looking into the affairs of Doctor Karswell. Unsurprisingly, he is warned off, but Holden is not easily scared. That is until he is passed a paper depicting runic symbols and told he only has three days to live. As the deadline fast approaches, he is finally forced to concede there are more things in hell and earth... But is there a way out...?

Fully restored, and for the first time on DVD, comes this black and white classic from the 1950’s. Jacques Tourneur’s film must have made quite an impression upon its first release, because it still resonates with intensity today.

The appearance of the demon is almost secondary to everything that comes before and after. Not many movies around this time played the supernatural story for real, with scientists, psychologists, hypnotism, and a strict, learned approach. Consequentially, it works very well as a psychological thriller, throwing ambiguity into the mix, and a sense of impending doom - of time running out.

The villain of the piece, Karswell, is gentlemanly, as most great perpetrators are; he is even seen entertaining local children as a clown of sorts on the grounds of his large estate. The plot motors along, using audience shocking sound and vision tricks of the trade that have become almost commonplace now.

The disc carries the original uncut UK film (95 minutes), and also the cut US version (82 minutes) which debuted under the title Curse of the Demon in 1958 as a double-bill alongside Revenge of Frankenstein. There is also a stills gallery. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on the packaging as I only received the disc itself. Only a small percentage of the horror and science fiction output of the 1950s worked; those that did became film classics, and Night of the Demon is most assuredly one of them.


Ty Power

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