Short Piece on "Night of the Demon" Movie

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,805
At least read the nifty anecdote at the end of this brief item.

 

Phyrebrat

ba-Ba-ba-brat
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
4,631
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Coincidentally, I was watching this in bed last night.

Night of the Demon is the first horror film I ever saw and captured my imagination (I was probably six or seven and didn't understand most of it), and I've loved it ever since. It's so quintessentially British in the way that The Old Dark House is unplaceable (although it's meant to be set in Wales), and Dana Andrews plays the supremely confident American to Nial MacGinnis' supremely confident Karswell. They're both a joy to watch, and Karswell's mother is another wonderful character; the singing of Cherry Ripe, to usher in the spirits for the medium's circle is alternately hilarious and chilling.

Special mention for Peggy Cummins' character who is a strongly drawn female who doesn't run around screaming.

Jacques Tourneur made a great decision in keeping it B&W; atmosphere (which is repeated in Cat People) works so well for it, and there is a briliant use of perspective and set-up in the foreshadowing scene when Dr Holden returns to his hotel after being pased the curse in The British Museum.

I suspect if I'd seen the film when I was older, I would have felt as upset about the inclusion of the demon as so many reviewers of the film seem to be, but I'm fond of it, and it cemented in my child's mind, how a demon should look, that I've carried into my 40s!

I often rewatch this and The Old Dark House and wonder why other B&W horrors don't have the same draw for me.

pH
 

KGeo777

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
276
Location
Canada
One interesting thing with the film is how strong the voices are. Everyone speaks so strongly and it adds something intensity to the proceedings. Every line is like that.
Not sure how much of it was dubbed post-production but it is very distinct.
 

Randy M.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2012
Messages
1,578
I greatly enjoy the story and love the movie, in part because I think Andrews is an underappreciated actor. He's accused of being a stone-face, but I think that was a conscious choice and he expresses emotions in other ways -- his silence and pauses as though for thought while assessing a situation, his side-eye glances, his posture, his infrequent smiles all provide clues to his character's reactions, and these change with the character. Holden is initially a charming disbeliever, but he assesses his opponent and as a scientist seeing what works, he uses it to his advantage.

MacGinnes is excellent as Karswell. He wants the power the magic confers but seems wary of using it, perhaps doesn't care for killing. He gives dimension to a character that could easily have slipped into cardboard villain.

The monster is okay , but isn't really needed. Tourneur wanted to go more psychological in the tradition of Cat People, maintain the mystery of whether it was mostly psychological or supernatural. The producers were not sympathetic. Either way, the movie is really powerful and effective. If the producers had stayed out of it, audiences would have gone home seeing what they wanted to see, either "Oh, that crazy Karswell, driven insane and given a heart attack by his own delusions, and darned clever of Holden to realize it" or "That's what you get for messing with magic. You can't call on those powers without paying a price, and how clever of Holden to use his power against him."

Oh, and I forgot to add, thanks for sharing Extollager. Interesting article.

Randy M.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
6,805
Funny thing -- I don't believe I've seen the movie, myself. But I know the story well. It was probably the first MRJ story I read, in an anthology aimed at kids called More Tales to Tremble By. This would've been around 1968/69.
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
15,572
I greatly enjoy the story and love the movie, in part because I think Andrews is an underappreciated actor. He's accused of being a stone-face, but I think that was a conscious choice and he expresses emotions in other ways -- his silence and pauses as though for thought while assessing a situation, his side-eye glances, his posture, his infrequent smiles all provide clues to his character's reactions, and these change with the character. Holden is initially a charming disbeliever, but he assesses his opponent and as a scientist seeing what works, he uses it to his advantage.

MacGinnes is excellent as Karswell. He wants the power the magic confers but seems wary of using it, perhaps doesn't care for killing. He gives dimension to a character that could easily have slipped into cardboard villain.

The monster is okay , but isn't really needed. Tourneur wanted to go more psychological in the tradition of Cat People, maintain the mystery of whether it was mostly psychological or supernatural. The producers were not sympathetic. Either way, the movie is really powerful and effective. If the producers had stayed out of it, audiences would have gone home seeing what they wanted to see, either "Oh, that crazy Karswell, driven insane and given a heart attack by his own delusions, and darned clever of Holden to realize it" or "That's what you get for messing with magic. You can't call on those powers without paying a price, and how clever of Holden to use his power against him."

Oh, and I forgot to add, thanks for sharing Extollager. Interesting article.

Randy M.
Its a great movie but , the demon monster ruins it a bit.
 

Randy M.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2012
Messages
1,578
Funny thing -- I don't believe I've seen the movie, myself. But I know the story well. It was probably the first MRJ story I read, in an anthology aimed at kids called More Tales to Tremble By. This would've been around 1968/69.
It's worth seeking out, especially if you like movies from that time period. There are some liberties taken with the story, but on the whole I think it represents the story well.

Randy M.
 

KGeo777

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
276
Location
Canada
For the time, the demon was state of the art.
I think it was needed to be shown as real, if only in a cloud of smoke (I think the best shots of it are at a distance), just so we don't think it is a hallucination, because as the book on the making of the film (Beating the Devil) pointed out, if we do not know the demon is real, then it makes the suspense about passing the parchment and Holden's slow realization all the more gripping. We know before he does that the threat is real. But I think they overdid it at the end with the man in suit shots.
Robert Taylor was originally supposed to have the Holden part when it was to be made in the US.
The filmmakers were not happy with Cummins or MacGinnis which seems incredible, MacGinnis was so good, but they wanted someone else.
Andrews was often drunk and when he arrived for filming he stumbled down the stairs of the plane and one of the producers turned to the director and said sarcastically, "your star."
But Andrews was great in the role.

I listened to this version of War of the Worlds on radio with him in the Gene Barry role (in fact, I think the two leads sounded better here than what we got in the Pal movie):

War of the Worlds
 

paranoid marvin

Run VT Erroll!
Joined
Mar 9, 2007
Messages
2,269
The movie is very good, a great adaptation of the short story by M R James. But whereas the book leaves a question mark over whether the threat was real or (although it strongly hints it is) the movie leaves you in no doubt. This is one time when I don't mind though, because the monster shot is left to the very end, so for 99% of the movie we are left in suspense. actually the demon shot is very effective, many people seem to remember it just for this one scene, and I have always thought it to be quite chilling.

There was also a tv adaptation of the story, and Ian Cuthbertson plays the role of Carswell extremely well; and although the story is much closer to the original text, it isn't as good as the first movie - and we all know that b&w horror movies are much more effective than colour.
 
Top