Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Night of the Demon (1957)

Jacques Tourner is a director who started off directing Val Lewton pictures in the early 40's. Those films being Cat People and I Walked With A Zombie. He brushed up his filmmaker status in the auteur realm with the 1947 noir Out of the Past. It wasn't until 1957 that he would return to horror. And a grand return it was. Based on an M.R. James story 'Casting the Ruins', Night of the Demon is as good a horror film you will find from the 50's. Several plotpoints were even borrowed by Sam Raimi to make the most recent Drag Me to Hell.

Night of the Demon starts out when John Holden (Dana Andrews) discovers that his colleague has been murderedunder mysterious circumstances. Right off the bat we see the reason- a demonic creature. The images of the demon itself are well known among fans of horror films from this particular era. Holden denies that it is the work of the devil until he finds himself involved in a curse. There's also a strong sense of film noir in the film which should make sense as Tourner worked on several film noirs before doing this. What makes it a classic is the use of atmosphere, tension and performances.

Note: There are 2 versions of this film. The original UK release ran 95 minutes and is titled Night of the Demon. The second one is the US version which runs 82 min. Both versions are on the Colombia DVD release.

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