Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Old School Flix: Night of the Demon (1957)

No Bigfoots here!  Today's Film is Night of the Demon- at least in the U.K. it is.  I'll get to that momentarily.  This 1957 Film has some good pedigree behind it, being based on a well-regarded Short Story and being Directed by Jacques Tourneur.  The Film tells the tale of a skeptic who is forced to become a believer when his life depends on it!  The Film had some issues before it came out though.  First off, the Director insisted that the monster never be shown.  I kind of see what he's going for...but it wouldn't have been my call.  Of course, he made alot more Films than I ever have, so I won't argue with the late Director too much.  The other thing was a number of cuts made for the U.S. Market and a title change.  Night was cut by around 12 minutes- to 83 minutes- and was given a new (but also effective) Title.  Here's the rub: later Releases were actually returned to full (like mine)...but kept the same Title of the recut version.  Life is confusing sometimes.  The important question is this: is the Film good?  To find out, read on...
Just to reiterate: my Streaming Version was 95 minutes, but still had the American recut Title.  Odd.
What are the odds that I would get a second Film within a month that shows us Stonehenge?  Pretty low, right?
In the opening Scenes, we see a man- the Uncle of our Heroine- confronted by the Titular creature.  Up to when the Creature appears, I can kind of see what Tourneur was going for.  This is still cool though.
Our Hero goes to London for a a Convention discussing the Paranormal.  As a skeptic, he has a vested interest.

He runs afoul of another man, however, a 'Doctor' who may be running a Cult.  So when he slips our hero a strange business card, something must be up.
He continues to investigate the background of the dead Professor and his previous research.  He meets with the same 'Doctor' later- who tells him that he will die in 3 days.  Ruh roh.
In a bit cut from the original U.S. release, he checks out a local Village and they talk about him being 'marked' and want nothing to do with him.

Will he die?  What is his fate?
He eventually figures out that the card was a mark placed on him to be killed by the Demon.  He has to do something daring and clever to escape a bloody end.
The solution: make sure to be near the man who 'marked' him and pass it on to him.  It actually works and the man is killed by the Demon.  Hurray for trickery.
So did any of that sound familiar?  Well, it should.

Supposedly, Drag Me to Hell was going to be a Remake of this Film, but there was a rights issues.  Instead, he took key issues and made something quite a bit different.  Neat.  The End.
It is definitely better than the 1980 Film, although also quite different.  That Film was all about Gore and Bigfoot, while this is about Atmosphere and dread.  Yes, it does involve a Demon, but his part is smaller than you might think.  Obviously, that has to do with Tourneur's original vision- somewhat- and just the general idea of giving you little of it (to make the scenes more impactful).  This one is about the Characters and watching them try to unravel the mystery.  That means that some of you might not like it- that's fine.  It has a real Old School vibe which I kind of dig.  The dreary Black-and-White Photography aids in this, also adding Atmosphere.  It could (and has been) said that Black-and White Films achieve more Atmosphere by using Fog and Smoke than in Color Films.  That is why some people still push for the use of it- like in the Alternate B&W Version of The Mist.  Some are off differing opinion on this- that's fine too.  As the sum of its parts, Night/Curse is a fine Film.  The Pacing and Execution won't please everyone.  On the plus side, the creature was deemed cool enough to get a Statue made out of it...
Next up, we take a break for Thanksgiving to feature some Rare Flix.  Instead of Indians, I have a legitimate Thanksgiving Horror Film!  Stay tuned...

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