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"Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

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"Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Old 09-28-21, 10:26 PM
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"Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge



Curse of the Demon (1957)




Selected by WillieMLF


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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags aren't always used in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

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2021 DISCUSSION | 2021 LISTS

Old 10-13-21, 03:33 AM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Night of the Demon (I watched the UK cut) works so well because it takes its subject so seriously. There is no camp, no winking at the audience. Because its characters, including skeptical Dana Andrews eventually, believe in the occult, we do too. Niall McGinnis is terrifically malevolent as the dark sorcerer Karswell. The scene at the children's fete is so telling; Karswell pretends to be a genial old man performing magic tricks for kids, but he didn't hesitate to risk their lives to prove a point to Dana Andrews with the windstorm he conjured.

My sole critique echoes that of other critics, that the monster should have been suggested rather than shown. Those demon close-ups really hurt the film.

Last edited by Gobear; 10-13-21 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 10-13-21, 11:26 AM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I like how Night of the Demon goes hard into the occult; I agree with Gobear that even today most films treat the occult as a cartoonish joke or favor killers and ghosts rather than mystic arts so Night of the Demon maintains a novel plot.

The creature effects are excellent especially for a film of this era and I think showing the far out demon goes a long way in making Night of the Demon stand out (versus just seeing ambivalent and possibly psychology like so many other low budget films) - the creature is an almost lurid elevation of the plot giving menace a form. The establishing introduction and tying it into different pictures from different cultures - that there's something so universal about this demon and his song is a cool element (even the stone hedge implication). The first time I heard about NotD was as a child (of the 80s) where a friend told me how intense and realistic the demon was; funny how parents probably allowed he watch a 'safe' 50s horror film and it rocked their world even as a kid. The effects of the demon are the sort of thing films today lack and would probably butcher - here it's obvious but also the fog and distance give it a phantasm quality without definite form maintaining some of the uncertainty while also providing a visual hook.

I watched the ~80 minute "US" edition, which I understand is a shorter version. Apparently these are the differences between 80 and 95 minute versions [UK], per IMDB:
Spoiler:

Among the differences was a reduction in the opening airport scene (where Holden is asked questions by the reporters), the removal of Karswell telephoning Holden in his hotel room, a reduction in the scene at Lufford Hall (missing out completely the conversation between Karswell and his mother), and most significantly the entire removal of the scene where Holden visits the relations of Rand Hobart at their farm.

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-13-21 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 10-13-21, 12:48 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

First of all, I have to say that the copy of this film on Fandor is emaculate! Bravo, for such an obscure title. I agree that the demon effects are great but other than some smoke, you only see it in the first five minutes and the last (with a lot of talking in between)! I would have killed for a shorter version!

2/5 stars
Old 10-13-21, 01:18 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I love this movie (watched it a couple of challenges ago, and have seen it a few times before). Besides the early Hammer movies, there wasn't really a lot of supernatural horror being made, making this stand out even more.

As mentioned, what a fantastic looking monster. So many 50s monster movies got torpedoed when they did the monster reveal, only to have it look laughable (looking at you, Giant Claw ). They actually tried to get Ray Harryhausen to do the demon effects, but he was too busy with the first Sinbad movie. Thankfully they didn't use a cheap Mexican puppeteer as their backup.

The director and screenwriter didn't even want to show the monster at all. The screenwriter was so mad that he said if he ever saw the producer who overruled him in person, he'd shoot him dead on the spot. Since they pulled it off, I'm glad the movie went with showing the monster. Although I think it would've been better if it was only revealed at the end. For some reason, that's how I remembered it from when I saw this as a kid. So I was a little surprised to see the full monster reveal at the beginning too.
Old 10-13-21, 05:59 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by brainee
The director and screenwriter didn't even want to show the monster at all. The screenwriter was so mad that he said if he ever saw the producer who overruled him in person, he'd shoot him dead on the spot. Since they pulled it off, I'm glad the movie went with showing the monster. Although I think it would've been better if it was only revealed at the end. For some reason, that's how I remembered it from when I saw this as a kid. So I was a little surprised to see the full monster reveal at the beginning too.
Well, I guess at least the screenwriter was passionate.
I had never heard of this before. I did accidentally pull up Night of the Demons from the Roku search. A very different film. But I liked this one. A lot of good pacing to see them develop over the course of the movie and dig into the unfolding story.

Last edited by exharrison; 10-13-21 at 06:22 PM.
Old 10-13-21, 06:19 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Goddamn...now this is what a horror movie is all about! And released in 1957 to boot! I thought this was awesome. Extremely effective without dumbing the story down for the audience.

Karswell has so much dark confidence that he came off as a Bond movie villain, several years before there was such a thing. Watch the awesome back and forth in the scene between Karswell and Holden at the kid's party when they were walking on the grounds. Or actually any scene with the both of them for that matter.

And Dana Andrews who plays Holden should be a household name and it is a shame he isn't. The guy just oozes charisma. It is crazy the guys has over 100 IMDB credits and you never, ever hear his name mentioned in movies circles today.

The Demon effects were great but they should have left them at a distance. The close-ups were not as effective. The sťance scene was well done and creepy.

I loved how it was all left open. Was this occult stuff for real or was it chance? Was it a demon that killed Karswell or just the train? Was it a demon that killed the other doctor or just the accident with the telephone pole? Did Holden really become a believer or was he just scaring Karswell to death by his own beliefs? Well done!

My rating: ****1/2 out of *****

ps. The opening plane scene was pretty humorous. I guess flying on a plane has always sucked. Andrews played that like it was written for Cary Grant. Good stuff!

Last edited by Spiderbite; 10-13-21 at 06:25 PM.
Old 10-13-21, 06:22 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I could watch this over and over. One of the best satanic/devil films along with The Exorcist and The Devil Rides Out. Creepy, gothic atmosphere coupled with outstanding acting make this a classic of the genre. Highly recommend the Indicator Box Set which has multiple cuts of the film and a slew of special features.
9/10
Old 10-13-21, 07:46 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I've seen this a few times. The last time was 2017 and I wrote in my review that it had a cool retro vibe but it didn't hold my attention. I enjoyed it WAY more this year. I think I've been watching so much hard core stuff that this was a nice change. I really enjoyed the story, cast, & ambiance. 4/5 stars for me.
Old 10-13-21, 07:56 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I signed up for fandor and watched that print. Now I wish I owned that four disc indicator release. I really enjoyed this.
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Old 10-13-21, 11:35 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes and passing them used lots of skill.

I watched this for the first time several years ago when I decided to watch all the movies referenced in "Science Fiction, Double Feature" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I'm glad it was selected as a subset film, compelling me to finally open my Indicator disc (unfortunately, I missed out on the limited edition). It's a fantastic movie, and I enjoy the way it explores the psychological effects of superstitions and belief in the supernatural. As someone who doesn't really believe in demons or ghosts or angels, I appreciate how the movie leaves things just ambiguous enough. It also pairs the supernatural with more mundane fears that I have; the scene where Holden is disoriented in the woods effect me since I have a paranoid fear of being alone and/or lost in the dark.

I agree with Gobear that the film works so well because the film plays the premise straight. Dana Andrews is a big part of that, bringing his stalwart, no-nonsense characterization to a part that could have been hammy or glib. I also like Peggy Cummins in the movie even though she doesn't get a ton to do. I wish she had had a more prolific career. She's so good in Gun Crazy and Escape. The whole cast is great. Niall MacGinnis is menacing and his fear of the forces he's toying with really ratchets up the tension. Athene Seyler is great as his mother. Also, I'd forgotten that Liam Redmond was in this as O'Brien. I know him best as the dispenser of exposition dumps in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.
Old 10-14-21, 02:40 AM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by Spiderbite
Karswell has so much dark confidence that he came off as a Bond movie villain, several years before there was such a thing.

And Dana Andrews who plays Holden should be a household name and it is a shame he isn't. The guy just oozes charisma. It is crazy the guys has over 100 IMDB credits and you never, ever hear his name mentioned in movies circles today.
Funny that you should mention a Bond connection; this film was production designer Ken Adam's first credit. He later went on to do production design for seven Bond films, including Dr. No, Goldfinger, and The Spy Who Loved Me.

Dana Andrews was born in Mississippi, so he's of local interest to me. I had a professor in grad school who had interviewed both Andrews and his wife for a biography that he was writing of Andrews, but he's never published it, to my knowledge. I need to ask him why he abandoned the project, if indeed that's what he's done.

This was my first time seeing Curse of the Demon all the way through; I've seen the demon scenes before, but I'd never seen the entire movie. I loved it; it hit on just the right tone for an October night. Good, good stuff!

My subset film rankings for the Challenge thus far:

1. Battle Royale
2. Carrie (1976)
3. Curse of the Demon
4. Slither
5. Witchfinder General
6. A Bay of Blood / The Spiral Staircase (averaged together)
7. Silent Madness
8. Slumber Party Massacre II (based purely on its out-of-left-field aesthetic)
9. Road Games
10. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
11. Grave Robbers (Ladrones de Tumbas)
12. The Severed Arm
13. The Mortuary Collection
14. Cutting Class
Old 10-14-21, 12:05 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I believe the non-limited Indicator set has 4 cuts, but I was in a rush and didn't pay too much attention to what I put on. I think it was Night of the Demon, and it looks gorgeous. Previously, I bought the DVD ages ago. I read some article stressing that it was one of Steven King's favorite movies, and that had me hooked at the time. I'm currently at a different place regarding King, but this is one of those gems I discovered back in the day.

I thought Karswell, was such a great villain. I agree that Dana Andrews should be more well known. I don't' have much of an issue with the physical demon and closeups (The first one looks really good with the hand movement). The first time we see the beast, it's in the dark with smoke and shadow and it's creepy as hell. The amped up cricket sound is very neat.

It's been debated whether Tourneur gave approval for the inserts, but I think it helps. It's been suggested that the studio wanted a physical monster, which would help at the box office, and Tourneu was furious. There's loads of stuff out there to suggest either way.

This is one of my favorites of the challenge, along with The Severed Arm.

Last edited by WillieMLF; 10-14-21 at 01:01 PM.
Old 10-14-21, 01:42 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I believe I watched this for the first time during a challenge a year or so ago. It still holds up on repeat viewings. Really good stuff. I'm a bit surprised that Tourneur isn't talked about more than he is. Even the films of his that are, I'm not sure if he gets the credit he deserves. I really need to import the Blu-ray one of these days.
Old 10-26-21, 07:23 AM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Yeah, this is my bread and butter horror film. Great performances, things left ambiguous, dark subject matter. Sad that my deluxe set is buried somewhere so didnít dive into the supplements, but will hopefully have that for a rainy day soon.

Definitely wears itís influences on itís sleeves, and has itís moments, but feel like it could have been a lot better with different performances and/or directing.


Stealing rbrownís subset ranking idea:

Curse of the Demon, 8/10
The Phantom Carriage, 8/10
Carrie, 8/10
Battle Royale, 8/10

The Spiral Staircase, 8/10
Slumber Party Massacre 2, 7/10
A Bay of Blood, 7/10
The Frighteners, 7/10

Road Games, 7/10
Slither, 7/10
Witchfinder General 7/10
The Mortuary Collection, 6/10
Cutting Class, 6/10
Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou, 6/10
Grave Robbers, 5/10

Silent Madness, 5/10
The Severed Arm, 4/10
Old 11-01-21, 12:35 PM
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Re: "Curse of the Demon" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I loved the duel of the parchment between Holden and Karswell and the ambiguous ending was great especially for a movie of this time. I look forward to revisiting this one for future challenges.

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