[PASSNOTES] ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ EXAMINES THE SUPERNATURAL IN LIGHT OF THE SCIENTIFIC

By on November 22nd, 2013

Night of the Demon (1957)

Night of the Demon (1957) Dir. Jacques Tourneur – 24th Nov at Ballywalter Park

Who’s in it? Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis

What’s it about? Jacques Tourneur’s pioneering 1957 film Night of the Demon (aka Curse of the Demon) mixes the supernatural with the scientific as an American Psychologist visiting Britain (Andrews) attempts to reconcile his safely scientific rationale with the inexplicably irrational. Adapting M.R. James’ 1911 short story Casting the Runes, Night of the Demon is a bewitching film noir which re-examines the supernatural in light of the scientific, customarily assumed incompatible, though evidently possessing (pardon the pun) a curious complementarity.

Memorable Moments? The final scene of the film sees noted demonologist Dr Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis) meet a grisly end on a railway line when the good doctor is molested by a maleficent fire-breathing demon. A mash up of the original 1933 King Kong gorilla and a mono-chromatic Chinese dragon parade float, Tourneur and crew deserve real credit for creating a suitably scary monster out of little more than a papier mache puppet and a smoke machine.

Look who’s talking:‘Night Of The Demon packs a powerful punch despite featuring no gore or, demon excepted, much in the way of special effects’ – Clark Collins, Empire Magazine

Like that? Try this: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) is an unconventional courtroom drama cum supernatural thriller, pitching the supposed certainty of scientific method against the uncompromising nature of faith. Based on an actual case (a popular attribute of the genre) this is a horror movie for those who prefer talking heads to rotating ones. A frightening and inspiring human interest story, albeit with a generous dollop of artistic licence where the ‘true events’ are concerned.

Trivia Pursuit: Martin Scorcese claims Night of the Demon is one of his all time favourite horror movies, though, with the exception of psych-thriller Shutter Island, the Goodfellas director is yet to really tackle the genre himself.

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