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CURSE OF THE DEMON
NIGHT OF THE DEMON

NIGHT OF THE DEMON ($25) is a minor classic amongst horror movies and a personal favorite. Directed by Jacques Tourneur, NIGHT OF THE DEMON is a fairly subtle horror offering that depends upon atmosphere and suspense to create its sense of dread. As the director of the Val Lewton classics, CAT PEOPLE and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, Tourneur was fully experienced with using shadows and the darkness to frighten an audience. However, unlike his earlier work that relied upon making an audience think they've seen something, when they hadn't- NIGHT OF THE DEMON actually shows the title creature. However, even with the film's demon making a few on screen appearances for shock value, Tourneur's ability to generate genuine fear in the audience with subtle techniques remains undiminished. NIGHT OF THE DEMON was released in the United States under the title CURSE OF THE DEMON; which also truncated the British made film by approximately fourteen minutes.

Based upon the story Casting The Runes by Montague R. James, NIGHT OF THE DEMON tells the story of American psychologist Dr. John Holden, who journeys to Britain to participate in a symposium on the paranormal. Upon his arrival, Holden discover that his colleague, Professor Harrington (Maurice Denham), died horribly, and under rather suspicious circumstance. There is much concern that Harrington's death may be related to Dr. Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis), whose endeavors into black magic were to be debunked at the symposium. After encountering Karswell, who claims that he summoned a demon to eliminate Harrington, odd occurrences have Holden questioning the validity of black magic and fearful that he may suffer the same fate as his colleague. The cast of NIGHT OF THE DEMON also includes Peggy Cummins, Athene Seyler, Liam Redmond, Reginald Beckwith, Ewan Roberts, Peter Elliott, Rosamund Greenwood, Brian Wilde and Richard Leech.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made both NIGHT OF THE DEMON and CURSE OF THE DEMON available on DVD in 1.66:1 wide screen presentations that have been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The black and white transfers of both versions are very similar in terms of quality, providing very crisp and well-defined images. There is plenty of detail in fabrics and every contour in the actors' skin is clearly visible. A slight grain structure is noticeable throughout the course of the movie, and while it is never distracting, it does render NIGHT OF THE DEMON with a very film like quality. Blacks have a deep velvety quality that threatens to envelope the actors during the film's more atmospheric moments. Whites are very cleanly rendered, plus the image has an excellent grayscale. The film's cinematography has a noir-ish quality that sometimes makes use of very stark contrast. Overall, the picture has fairly impressive depth and good shadow detail, even though there are sequences in the film that are murky by design. The film elements used for the transfers are in very good shape, displaying only minor blemishes and bits of dust. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed on both versions of the movie, with each having more than enough breathing room on a single layer of the one sided disc.

Both soundtracks are presented in Dolby Digital monaural and sound as if they have been digitally cleaned to remove noticeable traces of background hiss and surface noise. While the fidelity is limited on this 1957 production, I found that Clifton Parker's atmospheric music still managed to sound rather good and is worthy of amplification. Dialogue is very clean sounding and is completely understandable. There are no other soundtrack options on the DVD, although subtitles have been provided in English, French and Japanese.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a choice of which version of the film one wishes to watch. Personally, I recommend that one start with NIGHT OF THE DEMON and then go back and check out CURSE OF THE DEMON to see the truncated American version plays. Theatrical trailers for FRIGHT NIGHT and THE BRIDE are the only supplement provided on the DVD.

NIGHT OF THE DEMON is a minor genre classic that belongs in the collection of every fan of classic horror movies. Movie buffs will also find NIGHT OF THE DEMON to be a treat, and well worth checking out on DVD. Columbia TriStar has done a great job with this release, by offering both versions of the film, as well as presenting them in excellent looking 16:9 enhanced presentations.

   

CURSE OF THE DEMON / NIGHT OF THE DEMON 


Curse of the Demon (1958)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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