Curse/Night of the Demon

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Moraldo Rubini
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Curse/Night of the Demon

Post by Moraldo Rubini »

Well I never thought I'd be starting a thread in this forum, but I find that I've been intrigued with Night (or Curse) of the Demon for much of my life. I caught it, as a youth, on television; and it's been a favorite ever since.

Just now, I came in on it while it was playing on TCM Underground. I was happy to have turned it on in time to go to Karswell's manor. For some reason, I look forward to so many of the details that haunt me: Karswell's seemingly innocuous clown costume, his mother dishing up ice cream for the children, the game of snakes and ladders, and the conjuring of the storm. Karswell is so charming. Hitchcock would have loved this character. He's cut from the same cloth as James Mason's Phillip Vandamm, Otto Kruger's Charles Tobin and Claude Rains' Alexander Sebastian.

Then there are the more subtle aspects that follow. That dizzying shot of Dana Andrews as he walks towards his briefcase, realizing that the parchmant could be in there... Or the shot of the kitten on the ledge as Dana's car arrives. The cat is unthinking of the danger around him; and then we see Dana Andrews...
klondike

Post by klondike »

Couldn't agree with you more, MR; the only aspect (cinematically) that I find enigmatic, or troubling, at all is whether or not this clutch of filmmakers knew in progress what a delicious little gem they had in this un-pigeon-holeable cult delight, or if it was one of those serendipitous lucky shots that independent producers love to brag on?
As for the film itself, it retains the goose-pimpling power to reduce me to a bookish 12 years old again (I lucked out for my virgin viewing: what better age to meet this litle masterpiece?!), caught in that adolescent catharsis of rampant skepticism & superstitious paranoia, the perfect observer on which to unfold this fable of dry thunder & long shadows.
Heck, I've seen this film going on a dozen times now, know it front-to-back, and yet still find myself gasping & flinching as the tension starts screwing down tighter & tighter, as it passes the midway point.
That's staying power; and what truer benchmark for a classic?
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Moraldo Rubini
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It's in the trees!

Post by Moraldo Rubini »

Ain't it the truth, Klondike! I jump out of my seat every time Rand Hobart jumps out his gurney. The moment is brought to such tension through the effective use of silence. After Professor O'Brien finishes his introduction, all is silent -- no dialogue, no soundtrack, no sound effects. We see close-ups of Hobart's expressionless face, long shots of the audience, close-ups of Hobart's "dead" eyes, the doctors waiting for something... and then the explosive awakening.

It's a tragic scene with the smug scientists and medical staff trying in vain (and in vein :wink: ) to seem in control and all-knowing, when actually they're clearly out of their element. Hobart is as much a victim of their misguided notions as he is by the curse of the demon.

I think Jaques Tourneur knew exactly what he was doing. That's why it's sad that we'll never see the ending as he wished. I think he could have made his vision most effectively. But as Joanna Harrington states, "Maybe it's better not to know."
MikeBSG
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Post by MikeBSG »

"Curse of the Demon" is a terrific film. The scene in which Dana Andrews walks from the sorcerer's house through the woods at night ranks high on my list of scariest scenes.

This and "Cat People" are probably my favorite films by Tourneur. "The Leopard Man" and "I Walked With a Zombie" fluctuate with me. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't.

I don't like Tourneur's non-horror films as much as other people. "Out of the Past" just doesn't rank high on my list of must-see films noir. "Canyon Passage" never holds my interest all the way through. (Oddly, Tourneur directed as many westerns as he directed horror films.)
Mr. Arkadin
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

A great film to be sure. Tourneur said that he did not really want to show the demon, but the producer insisted, so one was created. I think it would be a much scarier film without his physical prescence, but I have gotten attached to him (he's really kind of cuddly and cute)! 8)

I posted this before, but some people might not have seen it. UK pop star Kate Bush was inspired by this film in the writing of her 1985 hit Hounds of Love which uses actual samples from the film (you can find it on youtube).

This youtube link is a live performance that she did at an awards show (no samples) that someone has mixed with the film to create a little mini movie with Kate's song as the soundtrack. You can hear all the spoken dialogue from the film as well. check it out:

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"You were right. Maybe it's better not to know."

Post by benwhowell »

I guess I should check out Sci-fi and Horror more often. If I'd known you had ventured here, Marco, to create a thread for this wonderful "sleeper" I would have began my praise here.
You made a great point, klondike, in pointing out the "indie cred" of this movie. I am a big fan (and supporter) of independents and this movie is proof that I'm not wasting my time in my obsession (and endless search) for gems like this.
Tourneur worked really hard to create such "magnificent simplicity." Sorta like some of my other fave directors (with independent leanings)-Hitchcock, Welles, Huston, Kubrick, et al.
"Curse Of The Demon" had the hairs on the back of my neck raised throughout. Fortunatley, they rested (the hairs, I mean) for the occasional quirky humour...especially the funny little song Karswell's mother and the medium's wife sang during the seance. Of course, they stood up again (the hairs, I mean) when the medium spoke in Prof. Harrington's voice!
This movie must be a fave classic for Brit baby boomers...as evidenced by the terrific Kate Bush video. Thanks, Mr. Ark. It is also mentioned in "Science Fiction Double Feature" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Which brings me to my "shameless plug-"Check out Chet and Connie's Trailer Park (in General Chat) for clips from (almost) all the movies mentioned in "Science Fiction Double Feature."
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phil noir
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Post by phil noir »

Thank you, Mr. Arkadin, for posting the youtube link. I'm a big fan of Kate Bush - what a great film!

I remember that she directed the original video of Hounds of Love herself - glimpses of which are included in the Night of the Demon rejig - and I remember her saying at the time that she was inspired by the Hitchcock version of The 39 Steps. She's also an admirer of Michael Powell.
Mr. Arkadin
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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

You're welcome Phil. Here's something I did on Kate at Dewey's Record Party:


http://silverscreenoasis.com/oasis/view ... 3379#23379

Feel free to stop by the Record Party and be a DJ for awhile. It's a fun way to share music.
Ollie
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Post by Ollie »

While I knew Brit films inserted American actors in some belief that only an American presence could launch a Brit film into American success (after all, no one ever heard of Olivier, Richardson, Sellers, Guinness, Colman, Grant, Greene, etc), I've always disliked the strange insertion of Dana's character as some topical expert.

His summoner is killed by the creature early on. We learn that he didn't believe in this power at first, but now he does. But days or weeks earlier, he's summoned Dana halfway around the world.

And Dana immediately dismissed EVERY aspect of this tale.

Uh. What was he an expert in? Why would the Summoner call HIM?

I'm never sure exactly how that thought-process occurred. The Summoner wants Dana to accomplish what? To legitimize the cult? To debunk it?

Exactly what significant piece of literature does Dana have (isn't he based in Calif?) or know about to make him The Expect in the summoner's mind?

I was never clear about it. It seems like an immediate hole in the logic of the story, but the rest of the film seems too terrific to 'nitpick' about that.
nightwalker
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Post by nightwalker »

Hey, Ollie.

I'll take a crack at answering your questions for you.

Andrews' character (John Holden) is a psychologist who was invited to participate in a symposium debunking the supernatural, particularly devil worship and witchcraft. His "area of expertise" lies in what we might today call de-programming, and, at first, he doesn't seem to believe in any aspects of the supernatural (whether good or evil).

After issuing the invitation, Professor Harrington, the original leader of the symposium, subsequently became convinced of the reality of these things, but because the time for ridding himself of the parchment passed to him by Karswell (marking him as the demon's target) had elapsed, the demon killed him.

But Holden did not have any special knowledge of a particular "piece of literature" that would have caused Harrington to send for him, although he had written a book or two on the subject. At the time Harrington sent for him, it was merely to be of help in debunking the supernatural in general and Karswell in particular.

In any case, you're right: the rest of the film is too terrific to nitpick about it.
Ollie
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Post by Ollie »

NW, thanks, yes, I recall those points now. (I was too lazy to drag it out and go over those opening 10-15 minutes where these tidbits are made known.) Thanks.

This is one of those films where, however big the logic gaps may have been, I couldn't care less. I've heard various complaints and arguments about aspects of this film, but none of them change my first or continuing favorable impressions of it, and I don't believe those arguers have their favorable impressions changed, either.
Ollie
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Post by Ollie »

I remember 'living' in one of our old downtown movie 'palaces' when they'd show Hammer double-features. Get there before lunch, take the bus back home after dark. Who'd let 6-7 year olds do that in today's world?!!
Ollie
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Post by Ollie »

When I compare this film's 3 effects to Star Wars numerous ones, why does this film seem so much more thrilling and tense than the Star Wars?

The three effects - there is a growing smoke cloud, then there's the demon, and finally, the drifting slip of paper.

None of those are really "state of the art". The Demon is a great monster, incredibly sized and terribly vicious, worthy of the great fright that we see on his victims' faces. The weird smoke has one faux appearance, in the hallway, but it's spooky enough to make Dana Andrews reconsider his belief system.

And while that drifting piece of paper seems like a dumb effect, it actually is used to create quite a bit of suspense - will they get it back? Will it get to the fire? For such a dumb little effect, they sure use it well.
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