Night of the Demon [1957]

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Maurice Denham, Niall MacGinnis, Peggy Cummins Dana Andrews
Genre: Horror
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 95 minutes

After establishing his signature style with such moody classics as Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie, Jacques Tourneur returned to peak form with the first-rate supernatural thriller Curse of the Demon. It's a horror-noir set in England, adapted from the M.R. James story "Casting the Runes" and built around the ominous notion that black arts--particularly the use of ancient runic symbols--can summon a deadly beast from hell. Dana Andrews is the stubborn American skeptic, determined to debunk a genteel occultist (Niall MacGinnis) whose evil powers are ultimately incontestable. The briefly seen demon may be cheesy by latter-day standards, but its nightmarish appearance--and Tourneur's masterful use of subtle suggestion, threatening atmosphere, and eerie special effects--make Curse of the Demon one of the best horror films of the 1950s. This splendid DVD offers the longer British version Night of the Demon for film-buff comparison; it's essentially the same film with a few extended scenes. Both are highly recommended. --Jeff Shannon

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