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Curse of the Demon, 1957.

From the video case: When psychologist John (Dana Andrews) Holden’s colleague, Professor Harrington, is mysteriously and brutally murdered, Holden denies that it’s the work of the devil until he becomes the next target of The Curse of the Demon! The supernatural skeptic is plunged into a macabre world of seances and devil worship as he attempts to expose a satanic cult. Joanna Harrington (Peggy Cummins), convinced that her uncle was slain by demonic means, begs Holden to stop the investigation for his own good. But he ignores her warning until the bizarre cult leader places a death curse on him and suddenly he’s confronted with a demon intent on destroying him! A chilling tale of the occult, Curse of the Demon will take you on an eerie expedition into darkness and danger! (1957, b&w)

Mark says: I really did not expect much from this movie. Something about the title (aka Night of the Demon) sounded so hokey that I expected it to be, at the best, cheesy, and at the worst, a total bore. I’m happy to report that I was very pleasantly surprised.

Much has been made about the “demon monster” in the movie. Admittedly, it is not the most convincing special effect. In some of the scenes it appears to be an obvious puppet, and it is, perhaps, revealed too fully and too early in the story. Fortunately for the viewer, though, this movie is not so much about the monster itself, but about the anticipation of evil. And, just to throw in my two cents, I don’t think seeing the demon monster detracts that much from the overall quality of the film.

Night of the DemonDana Andrews (Crack in the World, The Frozen Dead) does an excellent job portraying skeptical scientist, John Holden, who refuses to believe in the supernatural, even after experiencing bizarre events in his life. Even better, Niall MacGinnis (Island of Terror, Jason and the Argonauts) does superb work as the leader of the devil cult, Julian Karswell. They are supported by a strong cast of characters, including Liam Redmond, who you may recall as Kelsey from the Don Knotts vehicle, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Peggy Cummins (Gun Crazy) plays the concerned, and ultimately wise, love interest, Joanna Harrington.

I watch this film whenever I am in the mood for a “good good” (as opposed to a “good bad”) horror film from the 50s. In fact, I would list this among my favorites of the genre.

Directed by Jacques Tourneur (1942’s Cat People).

Scene to watch for: The kid in the mask who screams and jumps from behind the tree. It scares me every time.

Line to listen for: “I’m a scientist also, Mr. Holden. I know the value of the cold light of reason. But I also know the deep shadows that light can cast. The shadows that can blind men to truth.”

Trivia: Fans of the cult movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, may remember these lyrics: Dana Andrews said Prunes / Gave him the runes / And passing them used lots of skills. This is in reference to this film.

FYI: This film is also known as Night of the Demon.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ! ½ out of 5.

IMDB Link

7 Comments

  1. Hi:
    I have a question on the 1957 film “Curse of the Demon”, which you summarized very nicely on this page. I remember seeing the film a while back, but I’m having trouble renting it and I need help for a trivia contest.

    Do you know what the name of the arcane text that Dr. Holden is trying to locate? I need the complete title, so it might be long.

    Thanks for the help in advance!

  2. Hello Bryan!

    Sorry that I have been so long in attending to this; I just now found your comment. The book Dr. Holden is trying to locate is THE TRUE DISCOVERIES OF WITCHES AND DEMONS.

    I hope this info is still useful to you!

  3. lewton did not want to saw the panther in the cat people. it was studio imposed. what was jacques tourneur’s stand on the demon in this film? to show or not to show? was the demon studio imposed? i really like the demon. john

  4. John: My guess is that the demon was studio imposed, but I would have to recheck some sources to be sure. It would have been interesting to see how the movie would have played without the appearance of the beast. It would have been more of a psychological thriller that way. As it is, we see the monster with our own eyes very early on, so we know what John Holden (Andrews) does not (that the demon is real), so we never have to question Holden’s sanity.

    Still, as a monster fan, I don’t mind the picture breaking from the “artsy” to reveal a demon appearing from the trees. It’s definitely a worthwhile film.

  5. i agree with you…even though we know what dana andrews does not…i really like the demon. he looks way cool to me. john

  6. Was the actual name of the hall that was used for filming Julian’s home, Brockett Hall? (In the movie it was called Lufford Hall)


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