Night of the Demon (1957)

night of the demon poster 1957 movie curse of the demon
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking with a clever story


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Night of the Demon

Studio:   Columbia

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  December 17, 1957

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

night of the demon monster costume

He’s coming for you!

Professor Henry Harrington (Maurice Denham) meets a horrible death while investigating occult ritual.  When his associate John Holden (Dana Andrews) comes in to complete the investigation with his niece Joanna Harrington (Peggy Cummins), he finds himself questioning his belief that all occult is psychological.  John and Joanna meet a cult leader named Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis) and learn that John’s doubt might have cursed him and that his time could be running out.

Directed by Jacques Tourneur, Night of the Demon was a British film and was cut down for the American release (retitled Curse of the Demon and released in 1958).  Based on the 1911 story “Casting the Runes” by M.R. James, the film has been well received, but allegedly was a difficult shoot.

night of the demon monster forest

It’s hard to be inconspicuous as a fiery demon from Hell

Night of the Demon is a great film and if you haven’t had the chance to see it seek it out.  A nice double billing of the Night of the Demon and Curse of the Demon is available and the movie is still very stylish to this day.  Scenes like the children’s party, despite being simplistic, are rather creepy.  The shooting and look of the film has a great darkness and it really makes use of the light and dark for some of the more intense scenes during the beginning and end.  I also enjoy some of the clever writing surrounding the passing of the cursed paper…the ending sequence between Dana Andrews and Niall MacGinnis is classic!

night of the demon julian karswell clown dana andrews niall macguinnis

You aren’t afraid of demons, Dana Andrews…but are you afraid of CLOWNS?!?!

The big problem during production involved the appearance of the demon.  In the movie, there is a continuous question if the evil is real or being imaged by the characters.  Does witchcraft exist or is it a result of a person believing in it that makes it real?  The original story is written in a way that it is questionable, but the ending and beginning of the movie indicate that the demon is real.  The producer Hal E. Chester decided to show the demon against Tourneur’s decision to remain ambiguous and this led to tension.  Despite this being the common lore of the making of the film, there has also been some debate that this wasn’t true and that the inclusion of the demon was planned much earlier.

night of the demon ending julian karswell niall maginnis train

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the demon doesn’t like that guy much…

Regardless if the demon was planned, the demon is a great creation.  Its famous appearance is usually shown in images promoting the film, but I really enjoyed how they presented it.  The final scene where the demon is tearing up Karswell above the train tracks is actually pretty horrific even by modern standards and well done for costumes and models.  Special effects fanatics should really see this movie to see how the old films pulled it off.

Night of the Demon should be sought out if you are a fan of horror.  It falls in a strange period of horror after the big classics of the ’30s and B-Movies of the late ’40s and ’50s.  It is a bit more true horror than some earlier monster movie films and still has a sense of suspense and mystery that is interesting.  If you’ve only seen stills of the demon, it is fun to see it in action.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

One Comment on "Night of the Demon (1957)"

  1. PB October 15, 2015 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    The story ought to get 10/10, based as it is on a short piece of fiction by M.R. James. Apart from that, the review is correct.

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