Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Curse of the Demon

"Curse of the Demon" (aka "Night of the Demon") is one of those weird little lost films that everyone agrees is wonderful and yet very few people seem to have actually seen. This is one of those rare British movies that is set, not in the city, but rather in the chilly, fog filled countryside where little seems to have changed since Stonehenge was built. Niall McGinnis really steals the film as the leader of a Satanic cult, Karswell, who swiftly deals with his critics by summoning a huge, horrific demon to rip them to shreds.

John Holden, played by Dana Andrews, travels to London for a paranormal psychology symposium, and is intent on exposing Karswell as a fraud.  He is skeptical and refuses to believe in demons, even when strange, unexplainable things begin to happen to him. Miss Harrington, played by Peggy Cummins is his love interest, the open minded schoolteacher whose uncle may have been a victim of the Demon. Niall McGinnis is disturbingly likable as the head of the Demon Cult.  He is very disarming as the films central villain, and Andrews confusion mirrors our own as the movie stalks relentlessly through a seance, a stormy Halloween party and a frightening hypnosis session to its surprisingly violent conclusion.

The demon is shown at the start of the film, and even though the special makeup effects would be considered corny by todays standards, the movie is so smart, so moody, so creepy and well done with an excellent cast to boot, that one can easily forgive the crude looking demon.  
This is an excellent adaption of the short story "Casting the Runes" by M. R. James and it still has the power to scare even 50 years later. TCM is showing it at 6 pm this Friday...I highly recommend you check it out...I know I will!  

 Here is Karswell talking to Holden, one of my favorite scenes....here they are discussing the difference between white and black magic at a Halloween party he's thrown for the local kids. To make a point, he conjures up a stylish wind storm--which crashes the party and still fails to convince his intended audience.  

 Holden, finding the parchment in his coat....warning him of his impending death!

Holden and Miss Harrington, trying to figure out what to do.

The seance scene, adds a little comic relief to the film.

The final scene at the train tracks....is that a demon up ahead?!!!

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