Night of the Demon (1957)
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Funny that the most pathological person in this film is Dr. Holden. At first he just seems like a smug know-it-all chauvinist but his obstinacy begins to seem irrational at some point.
I liked the demon personally. It was sort of cute.
I've been looking forward to watching this movie for some time having read James's excellent short story- and it was finally shown on TV last night after who knows how long. It's such a shame that studio pressure famously forced the director to show the demon not only because it looks so silly that it defuses some of the tension right from the start, but also because it contradicts the central concept of Holden's scepticism. How much more frightening to not know for certain how the cursed really died? Holden's closing thought that sometimes it's better not knowing applies to the audience better off not seeing. Other than that it's a great little film; I think with a decent director and sensitive screenwriter this film could justifiably and successfully be remade.
Is it true that the British version of Curse of the Demon, NIGHT of the Demon, doesn't show the animatronic demon? I don't know how I feel about that. Sure, it's a little silly (though when it goes to town, it's VIOLENT!), but it was part of the charm for me. Though perhaps "charm" isn't what you want from a horror movie. Regardless, if you don't have the demon, I'm sure you're complaining about the plush leopard attack. For 1957, I still think Jacques Tourneur turned in a pretty cool flick, with neat effects (the atmospheric disturbance that heralds the demon's appearance was repeated in Deep Space Nine 35 years later, so I'd say it's cutting edge), strange shots, and a ripping yarn about an unbelieving psychologist coming across what appears to be real, no bunk, supernatural events and having to face off against a warlock who's passing death runes around. Nobody told me this was a Dr. Thirteen movie! There's a way to interpret this movie so that the hero's right, but it's not that ambiguous. Even he's nudged a bit to the believer's side, but only a bit. Psychosomatic or real, the means of murder in this film, and how the hero gets out of it, is my favorite thing about it.
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In 7 official lists
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This movie ranks #65 in TSZDT's The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films
This movie ranks #176 in Badmovies.org's Best B-Movies
This movie ranks #284 in Jennifer Eiss's 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #430 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #651 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #753 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #779 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown