This movie, I don’t wanna confuse you so I’ll keep it straight forward. There are two versions of this. One, is the full 95 minutes, associated with the UK release under a slightly different title. The other, for American audiences, is short 13 minutes.
Shudder luckily has the full version but titled it under the American version yet when the film started, it had the original title card.
Brought to you by the same director of Cat People (which I also reviewed), I am going to discuss my watch of 1957’s Night (or Curse) of the Demon. Not Night of the Demons from 1988, that’s a totally different movie! Warning there may be spoilers ahead!
I was very excited to see this movie available to watch! A few of Tourneur’s films are available on Shudder but I assumed this movie was a sequel because I have heard of Night of the Demon, not “Curse” and assumed it was a sequel. Apparently it’s the same movie but the American version is shorter. Not this one, this is the full 95 minutes and it’s well worth it. I can’t imagine what they would cut from the 95 minutes.
IMDB describes this movie’s summary as “American professor John Holden arrives in London for a parapsychology conference, only to find himself investigating the mysterious actions of Devil-worshiper Julian Karswell.” I’d say this is mostly accurate without giving too much away. This movie really is about the perception of believers to non believers/skeptics, playing into the idea that those who don’t believe end up having a lot of experiences that challenges them and this is what happens to Holden (played by Dana Andrews). He is consistently challenged by what he sees and experiences and trying to hold onto that piece of sanity and logic is very hard when we get to a certain point in the film.
On the opposite end, we have two main characters who fall on the believer’s side. Our antagonist Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis), well, he definitely believes he has powers and showcases that he does by summoning the demon to those he “chooses”. We also have a female protagonist, Joanna Harrington (played by Peggy Cummins) who is investigating the mysterious death of her uncle and is also pulled into the web of “devil worshipping” and magic.
What I enjoyed about the film is that from the beginning, this was going to take you on a ride. From the initial view of Stonehenge (on location or maybe recreated on a film stage) to London, to the countryside, hotel rooms, large mansions, woods, train stations, there’s a lot happening here. Visually, there are some great cinematography shots with angles, lighting, tracking and long shots, it’s similar to Cat People but not.
The writing and acting is great, believable. The special effects of the demon is really cool. I was thinking, hm, when did Godzilla come out because the demon is very much a “kaiju monster” and of course Godzilla came out in 1954 so I definitely see some inspiration. It is more supernaturally based since it is ties in with magic and curses and cults but I can see it thrown into the genre along with Tarantula, Them!, King Kong, etc.
My absolute favorite part is perhaps the last half hour going into the final moments of the film. To see our antagonist so frightened and scared after being so cocky and confrontational and chill (look at all those c’s) to then being forced to realize his own demise and facing the demon who clearly did not give many shits.
Night (or Curse) of the Demon stars Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, and directed by Jacques Tourneur. I’d give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars, I’d highly recommend this watch, especially if you are a fan of 50s horror during the sci-fi/nuclear/creature feature subgenre. Also, this is an adaptation of “Casting the Runes” (1911) by author M. R. James.
This film is currently on Shudder.