Curse of the Demon (Columbia, 1957). Lobby Card (11 Comprehensive Element
Curse of the Demon / Evening of the Demon
Columbia TriStar Household Leisure
1957/fifty eight / B&W / 1:78 anamorphic sixteen:nine / 82, 95 min. / Road Date August thirteen, 2002 / $24.95
Starring Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Maurice Denham, Athene Seyler
Cinematography Ted Scaife
Output Designer Ken Adam
Unique Results George Blackwell, S.D. Onions, Wally Veevers
Film Editor Michael Gordon
Authentic Music Clifton Parker
Prepared by Charles Bennett and Hal E. Chester from the story Casting the Runes by Montague R. James
Manufactured by Frank Bevis, Hal E. Chester
Directed by Jacques Tourneur

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Savant champions a large amount of style movies but only sometimes does 1 appear like Jacques Tourneur’s superlative Curse of the Demon. It can be simply just greater than the rest — an clever horror film with some really good scares. It occupies a stylistic place that sums up what’s best in ghost tales and can keep its personal with most any supernatural film at any time produced. Oh, it can be also a good amusement that hardly ever fails to set audiences at the edge of their seats.
What’s a lot more, Columbia TriStar has revealed uncommon respect for their style output by together with each versions of Curse of the Demon on 1 disc. Savant has full protection on the versions and their restoration down below, pursuing his extensive and analytical (read: extended-winded and anal) protection of the film itself.


Dr. John Holden (Dana Andrews), a scientist and specialist debunker of superstitious charlatans, arrives in England to enable Professor Henry Harrington (Maurice Denham) assault the phony cult surrounding Dr. Julian Karswell (Niall McGinnis). But Harrington has mysteriously died and Holden gets concerned with his niece Joanna (Peggy Cummins), who thinks Karswell experienced some thing to do with it. Karswell’s ‘tricks’ confuse the skeptical Holden, but he stubbornly holds on to his conviction that he is ” … not a sucker, like 90% of the human race.” That is, right until the proof mounts that Harrington was certainly killed by a demon summoned from Hell, and that Holden is the future meant victim!

The majority of horror films are fantasies in which we settle for supernatural ghosts, demons and monsters as component of a offer we have produced with the authors: they gown the fantasy in an desirable guise and organize the variables into an interesting pattern, and we agree to engage in together for the sake of pleasure. When it works the movies can resonate with private that means. Even nevertheless Dracula and Frankenstein are unreal, they are appropriate for the reason that they are aligned with thoughts and themes in our unconscious.
Horror films that seriously confront the no-man’s land involving rational fact and supernatural belief have a tricky time of it. Everyone who believes in God understands that the tug o’ war involving rationality and faith in our tradition has develop into so clogged with crazy belief devices it can be considered impolite to dismiss people today who consider in flying saucers or the powers of crystals or minimal glass pyramids. A single of Dana Andrews’ vital strains in Curse of the Demon, defending his dogged skepticism against those people urging him to have an open up intellect, is his retort, “If the entire world is a dark place ruled by Devils and Demons, we all could as effectively give up correct now.” Curse of the Demon balances itself involving skepticism and belief with well mannered English manners, permitting us have our pleasurable as it lays its entice. We observe Andrews roll his eyes and scoff at the feeble séance hucksters and the dire warnings of a silly-seeking necromancer. Meanwhile, a total dark entire world of horror sneaks up on him. The film’s clever is such that we’re not offended by its advocacy of dark forces or even its literal, in-your-face demon.
The remarkable Curse of the Demon was produced in England for Columbia but is gloriously unaffected by that firm’s zero-zero keep track of history with horror films. Producer Hal E. Chester would feel an odd choice to make a horror typical immediately after making Joe Palooka films and performing as a criminal punk in dozens of teen criminal offense movies. The apparent powerful playing cards are author Charles Bennett, the brains at the rear of several typical English Hitchcock photographs (who ‘retired’ into meaningless bliss creating for schlockmeister Irwin Allen) and Jacques Tourneur, a learn stylist who set Val Lewton on the map with Cat Men and women and I Walked With a Zombie. Tourneur produced interesting Westerns (Canyon Passage, Good Working day in the Morning) and probably the most passionate film noir, Out of the Previous. By the late ’50s he was on what Andrew Sarris in his American Film termed ‘a industrial downgrade’. The critic lumped Curse of the Demon with minimal spending plan American turkeys like The Fearmakers. 1
Place Tourneur with an clever script, a respectable cameraman and a lot more than a nominal spending plan and good issues could transpire. We’re utilised to viewing Corman Poe films, English Hammer films and Italian Bavas and Fredas, all the though producing excuses for the shortcomings that maintain them in the style ghetto (where they all do fairly effectively, thank you). You will find even a veiled resentment against upscale shockers like The Innocents that have resources (cash, time, good actors) denied our most loved toilers in the style realm. Curse of the Demon is over all those people issues. It has identify actors past their prime and realistic creation values. Its personal studio (at least in The usa) produced it like a style quickie, double-billed with dreck like The Evening the World Exploded and The Giant Claw. They slice it by thirteen minutes, transformed its title (to ape The Curse of Frankenstein?) and produced a poster that includes a big, slavering demon monster that some consider was initially meant to be barely glimpsed in the film itself. 2

Horror movies can function on a lot more than 1 stage but Curse of the Demon handles several ranges and then some. The narrative sets up John Holden as a specialist skeptic who raises a smirking eyebrow to the open up minds of his colleagues. Contrary to most next-banana scientists in horror films, they categorical divergent factors of watch. Holden just sees himself as having prevalent feeling but his peers are impressed by the consistency of demonological beliefs by history. Probably they all saw Christensen’s Witchcraft by the Ages, which could have served as a primer for creator Charles Bennett. Smart dialogue enables Holden to score factors by scoffing at the then-latest “regression to past life” scam popularized by the Bridey Murphy fad. three Whilst Holden stays firmly rooted to his situation, coining good phrases and sarcastic set-downs of believers, the other scientists are at least eager to take into consideration alternate options. Indian colleague K.T. Kumar (Peter Elliott) keeps his view to himself. But when questioned, he politely states that he believes solely in the entire world of demons! four
Holden may possibly assume he has the reality by the tail but it will take Kindergarten instructor Joanna Harrington (Peggy Cummins of Gun Insane fame) to exhibit him that being a skeptic will not suggest disregarding specifics in entrance of one’s face. Often all set for a drink (a detail included to tailor the component to Andrews?), Holden spends the to start with pair of reels as interested in pursuing Miss out on Harrington, as he is the devil-worshippers. The information and coincidences pile up with alarming pace — the disappearing ink untraceable by the lab, the visible distortions that could be induced by hypnosis, the internet pages torn from his day reserve and the parchment of runic symbols. Holden believes them to be props in a conspiracy to draw him into a vortex of doubt and worry. Is he being set up the way a Voodoo learn drawbacks his victim, by being advised he will die, with fabricated clues to make it all appear actual? Holden even receives a bar of sinister new music caught in his head. It can be the title topic — is this a wicked joke on motion picture soundtracks?

Discuss of the Satan…

This brings us to the superb character of Julian Karswell, the kiddie-clown turned multi-millionaire cult chief. The male who launched Alfred Hitchcock as a maker of complex thrillers here makes 1 of the most interesting villains at any time prepared, 1 absolutely as good as any of Hitchcock’s. In the shorter American slice Karswell is a shrewd online games-player who reveals Holden too a lot of of his playing cards and at last outsmarts himself. The for a longer time British isles slice retains the full depth of his character.
Karswell has tapped into the strategies of demonology to attain riches and electric power, nevertheless he tragically acknowledges that he is as vulnerable to the forces of Hell as are the cowering minions he controls by worry. Karswell’s coven means organization. It can be an solely unique conception from the aesthetic salon espresso klatch of The Seventh Victim, where practically nothing definitely supernatural occurs and the only menace arrives from a mystery modern society committing new crimes to conceal aged ones.
Karswell keeps his wide pursuing living in worry, and supporting his extravagant lifestyle less than the notion that Evil is Fantastic, and Fantastic Evil. At to start with the Hobart Farm appears to harbor spiritual Christian fundamentalists who have turned their backs on their son. Then we obtain out that they are Karswell followers, living blighted life on cursed acreage and bled dry by their cultist “chief.” Karswell’s mum (Athene Seyler) is an inversion of the usual crazy Hitchcock mother. She lovingly resists her son’s philosophy and actively attempts to enable the heroes. That’s in the Evening edition, of study course. In the shorter American slice she only can make silly tries to interest Joanna in her available son and arranges for a séance. Involved by his “negativity”, Mother confronts Julian on the stairs. He has no good friends, no spouse, no family members. He may possibly be a mass extortionist but he is however her little one. Karswell points out that by exploiting his occult expertise, he is immersed himself for good in Evil. “You get practically nothing for practically nothing”

Karswell is like the Satan on Earth, a force with really limited powers that he won’t be able to generally control. By definition he can not trust any of his personal minions. They are unreliable, weak and vulnerable to double-cross every other, and they bring in publicity that can make a mystery modern society challenging to conceal. He won’t be able to just get rid of Holden, as he has not a solitary henchman on the payroll. He rather summons the demon, a magic trick he is only a short while ago mastered. When Karswell turns Harrington absent in the to start with scene we can feeling his loneliness. The only human being who can possibly comprehend is correct prior to him, at last eager to acknowledge his electric power and probably even tolerate him. Karswell has no choice but to surrender Harrington more than to the un-recallable Demon. In his dealings with the cult-debunker Holden, Karswell defends his turf but is also making an attempt to justify himself to a peer, an additional male who could be a potential equivalent. It can be a lot more than a duel of egos involving a James Bond and a Goldfinger, with arrogance and aggression masking a mutual respect Karswell understands he is taken Lewton’s “improper turning in existence,” and will have to shell out for it ultimately.
Karswell ultimately earns Holden’s respect, especially immediately after the fearful testimony of Rand Hobart. It can be taken an extraordinary demonstration to do it, but Holden budges from his smug situation. He may possibly not invest in all of the demonology hocus-pocus but it can be basic plenty of that Karswell or his “demon” is going to in some way rub him out. Searching for to sneak the parchment back again into Karswell’s possession, Holden gets a worthy hero for the reason that he is identified the maturity to dilemma his personal preconceptions. Armed with his rational, amazing head, he is a force that can make Karswell — with no his demon, of study course — a relative weakling. Curse of the Demon finishes in a typical ghost story twist, with just desserts dished out and stability recovered. The good characters are a lot less guaranteed of their entire world than when they started, but they are however ready to cope. Evil has been defeated not by enjoy or faith, but by intellect.

Curse of the Demon has the Val Lewton sensibility as has usually been cited in Tourneur’s frequent (and really effective) use of the gadget termed the Lewton “Bus” — a wholly synthetic jolt of rapid movement and sound interrupting a tense scene. You will find an ultimate “bus” at the stop when a teach blasts in and sets us up for the stop title. It “erases” the embracing actors at the rear of it and I have generally believed it experienced to be an inspiration for the previous shot of North by NorthWest. The at any time-playful Hitchcock was reportedly a big viewer of wonderful films, from which he appears to have gotten a lot of thoughts. He is reported to have dined with Lewton on a lot more than 1 celebration (can make feeling, they had been at 1 time each Selznick contractees) and carried on a covert level of competition with William Castle, of all people today.
Visually, Tourneur’s film is marvelous, very easily conjuring menacing forests lit in the wonderful Mario Bava method by Ted Scaife, who was not recognized as a style stylist. There are a lot more than a several perfunctory sets, with some unflattering mattes utilised for airport interiors, and many others.. Elsewhere we see lovely types by Ken Adam in 1 of his earliest outings. Karswell’s ornate flooring and central staircase evoke an Escher print, especially when obvious/invisible hands appear on the banister. A hypnotic, maze-like set for a lodge corridor is also tainted by Escher and evokes a feeling of the uncanny even greater than the horrid seems Holden hears. The construct-up of terror is so effective that 1 relatively unconvincing episode (a struggle with a Cat Men and women – like transforming cat) does no harm. Other effects, such as the demon footprints showing up in the forest, function beautifully.
In his Encyclopedia of Horror Movies Phil Hardy really rightly relates Curse of the Demon’s emphasis on the visible to the then just-starting Euro-horror subgenre. The works of Bava, Margheriti and Freda would make the photographic texture of the display screen the prime ingredient of their films, sometimes over performing and story logic.

Columbia TriStar’s DVD of Curse of the Demon / Evening of the Demon presents each versions of this typical in 1 package deal. American viewers saw an effective but abbreviated slice-down. If you’ve got seen Curse of the Demon on cable Tv set or rented a VHS or a laser anytime immediately after 1987, you’re not going to see nearly anything unique in the film. In 1987 Columbia transpired to pull out the English slice when it went to re-learn. When the title arrived up as Evening of the Demon, they just slugged in the Curse main title card and permit it go.
From such a joyful incident (consider me, no one in cost at Columbia at the time would have purposely presented a film like this a next look) arrived a restoration at least as superb as the before reversion of The Fearless Vampire Killers to its unique kind. Genre supporters had been taken by shock and the Laserdisc became a warm product that usually traded for hundreds of pounds. six

Again in film university Savant experienced been certain that at any time looking at the extended, unique Evening slice was a lost result in. An fantastic short article in the aged Photon magazine in the early ’70s 5, prior to such analytical function was prevalent, precisely laid out the dissimilarities involving the two versions, some thing Savant requires to do sometime with The Damned and These Are the Damned. The Photon short article really precisely describes the slice scenes and what the film lost with no them, and certainly motivated a lot of of the thoughts here.
Being ready to see the two versions back again-to-back again reveals specifically how they differ. Curse omits some scenes and rearranges other individuals. Gone is some narration from the title sequence, most of the plane ride, some dialogue on the floor with the newsmen and several scenes with Karswell speaking to his mother. Most crucially lacking are Karswell’s mother demonstrating Joanna the cabalistic reserve everyone talks so a great deal about and Holden’s whole pay a visit to to the Hobart farm to protected a release for his evaluation of Rand Hobart. Of study course the slice film however works (we cherished the slice Curse at UCLA screenings and there are people today who really assume it can be greater) but it can be nowhere in the vicinity of as involving as the complete British isles edition. Curse also reshuffles some situations, transferring Holden’s phantom experience in the hallway nearer the starting, which may possibly have been to get a spooky scene in the middle section or to greater disguise the loss of total scenes later on. The chop-position must have been apparent. The newly imposed fades and dissolves search uncomfortable. A single slice really sloppily occurs correct in the middle of a preceding dissolve.
Evening locations each Andrews and Cummins’ credits over the title and provides McGinnis an “also starring” credit promptly afterwards. Oddly, Curse sticks Cummins afterwards and relegates McGinnis to the major of the “also with” cast list. Probably with his function chopped down, some Columbia executive believed he did not have earned the billing?
Technically, each versions search just good, really sharp and absolutely free of electronic funk that would spoil the film’s spooky visible texture. Evening of the Demon is the edition to observe for each material and top quality. It can be not ideal but has greater contrast and a lot less filth than the American edition. Curse has a lot more emulsion scratches and flecking white dandruff in its dark scenes, nevertheless looks good right until 1 sees the advancement of Evening. The two reveals are widescreen increased (hosanna), framing the motion at its unique tighter facet ratio.
It can be terrific that Columbia TriStar has introduced out this film so thoughtfully, even nevertheless some viewers are going to be baffled when their “double function” disc seems to be two copies of the identical motion picture. Permit ’em stew. This is Savant’s most loved release so far this calendar year.

On a scale of Great, Fantastic, Good, and Weak, Curse of the Demon / Evening of the Demon prices:
Film: Great

Made really near to Curse of the Demon and starring Dana Andrews, The Fearmakers (good title) was a Savant need to-see right until he caught up with it in the UA assortment at MGM. It can be a pitiful no-budgeter that promises Madison Avenue was furnishing community relations for overseas subversives, and is negligible even in the lists of ’50s anti-Commie films.

Curse of the Demon’s Demon has been the subject of debate at any time considering that the heyday of Popular Monsters of Filmland. From what’s on history it can be very clear that producer Chester included or maximized the shots of the creature, a literal visualization of a fiery, brimstone-smoking classical woodcut demon that some viewers assume looks preposterous. Bennett and Tourneur’s unique notion was to hardly ever exhibit a demon but the producer transformed that. Tourneur almost certainly directed most of the shots, only to have Chester more than-use them. To Savant’s considering, the demon looks good. It is to start with perceived as an ominous seem, a a lot less strident edition of the disturbing sound produced by Them! Then it manifests itself visually as a weird disturbance in the sky (bubbles? sparks? early slit-scan?) adopted by a billowing cloud of sulphurous smoke (a dandy result not exploited all over again right until Shut Encounters of the Third Sort). The extended-shot demon is sometimes termed the bicycle demon for the reason that he is a rod puppet with legs that shift on a wheel-rig. Smoke belches from all more than his scaly overall body. Shut-ups are furnished by a wonderfully sculpted head ‘n’ shoulders demon with articulated eyes and lips, a full 10 years or so prior to Carlo Rambaldi started engineering such gadgets.
Most of the debate centers on how a great deal Demon must have been revealed with the common consensus that a lot less would have been greater. Men and women who dote on Lewton-esque ambivalence say that the film’s gradual buildup of rationality-as opposed to demonology is ruined by the really actual Demon’s overall look in the to start with scene, and which is where they’d like it eliminated or radically minimized. The Demon is so nicely built-in into the cutting (the giant foot in the to start with scene is a actual jolt) that it can be most likely that Tourneur himself filmed it all, probably anticipating the shots to be shorter or a lot more obscured. It is also feasible that the giant head was a write-up-Tourneur addition – it will not tie in with the other shots as effectively (especially when it rolls forward relatively stiffly) and is relatively blunt. Detractors lump it in with the gawd-awful head of The Black Scorpion, which is filmed the identical way and almost certainly was an afterthought – and also became a vital poster impression. This demon head matches the surrounding motion a large amount greater than did the drooling Scorpion.
Savant would not transform Curse of the Demon but if you set a gun to my head I would shorten most of the shots in its to start with overall look, probably eliminating all near-ups besides for the final, excellent shot of the the giant claw reaching for Harrington / us.

Kumar, played (I suppose) by an Anglo actor, promptly evokes all those people Indian and other Third World characters in Hammer films whose indigenous cultures invariably keep all way of black magic and insidious horror. When Hammer films are repetitious it can be for the reason that they choose eighty minutes or so to encourage the creativeness-challenged English heroes to even take into consideration the premise of the film as being actual. In Curse of the Demon, Holden’s good-tongued dismissal of outside viewpoints appears a great deal a lot more pigheaded now than it did in 1957, when heroes confidently defended conformist values with no being challenged. Kumar is a scientist but also almost certainly a Hindu or a Sikh. He has no difficulty reconciling his faith with his scientific detachment. Holden is far too tactful to contact Kumar a crazy 3rd-entire world expert but which is almost certainly what he is considering. He rather politely ignores him. Fantastic aged Kumar then saves Holden’s conceal with some timely information. I hope Holden remembered to thank him.
You will find an unspoken conclusion in Curse of the Demon: Holden’s rigid disbelief of the supernatural means he also does not consider in a Christian God with its essentially non secular faith technique of Fantastic and Evil, saints and devils, angels and demons. Horror movies that offer specifically with spiritual symbolism and “actual faith” can be hypocritical in their exploitation and brutal in their cheap toying with what are for a lot of people today sacred private principles. I am considering of study course of The Exorcist here. That motion picture has all the grace of a reporter who reveals a serial killer’s atrocity photographs to a mother whose little one has just been kidnapped. Curse of the Demon has not The Exorcist’s ruthless industrial instincts but rather has the modesty not to fake to be profound, or even “actual.” Nevertheless it expresses our standard human conflict involving rationality and faith really nicely.

Savant termed Jim Wyrnoski, who was affiliated with Photon, in an effort and hard work to obtain out a lot more about the short article, namely who wrote it. It was really effectively done and I have hardly ever forgotten it I sadly loaned my copy out to good aged Jim Ursini and it disappeared. Naturally, a large amount of the thoughts here, I to start with read there. Most likely a reader who understands greater how to choose treatment of their belongings can enable me with the facts? Ursini and Alain Silvers’ A lot more Issues than are Dreamt Of Limelight, 1994, analyzes Curse of the Demon (and a lot of other horror movies) in the context of its resource story.

This is a legitimate story: Reduce to 2000. Columbia goes to re-learn Curse of the Demon and finds that the good-grain unique of the English edition is lacking. The unique extended edition of the motion picture may possibly be lost for good. A several months later on a collector seems who states he bought it from an additional unnamed collector and offers to trade it for a print copy of the American edition, which he prefers. Luckily, an middleman will help the collector abide by up on his provide and the authorities are not contacted about what some would certainly contact stolen property. The extended edition is now once all over again risk-free. Studios obviously need to defend their property but a lot of collectors have “things” they individually have acquired lawfully. A lot more usually than you could assume, such finds occur about for the reason that studios toss absent crucial components. If the studios threaten prosecution, they will obtain that collectors will hardly ever strategy them. They’d almost certainly prefer to demolish irreplaceable film to steer clear of being criminalized.

Posted by Morbius19 on 2013-ten-24 twenty:56:33

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