The demon in "Night of the Demon": yea or nea?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Daniel J.S., Aug 3, 2003.

  1. Daniel J.S.

    Daniel J.S. Stunt Coordinator

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    Mention the British horror film "Night of the Demon" to a group of film buffs and an argument is only moments away. The argument is course over the shots of the fire demon that producer Hal Chester had inserted into the film at the beginning and end. As we all know, director Jaques Tourneur had worked for Val Lewton, who believed that what wasn't seen was scarier than what was; as a result, some people believe these shots destroy Tourneur's intent for the film. I've never agreed with this view: I think the demon looks terrific. I agree with Danny Peary when he wrote that this monster is far scarier than anything imaginable and that if Lewton had such a great creature, he would have shown it. Restraint is admirable, but I believe if you have a great looking monster, it's a total cheat not to show it. Doesn't the demon descending from the sky to tear Karswell to shreds make a great payoff? I think this one of those moments where subtlety isn't called for. One could say that showing the demon right at the beginning gives too much away, but I don't buy that either; by convincing us right off the bat that the curse is real, more tension is built when Dana Andrew's character stubbornly refuses to believe in the supernatural. We all know what he's in for if he doesn't wise up and get rid of the parchment. Anyway, I consider the demon essential to the film's success and I'm convinced that the only reason that there's so much opposition to it is because everyone knows it was studio imposed. It's too bad that one of the all-time great horror films has been overshadowed by controversy.
     
  2. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    I liked the demon, a bit crude by todays standards, but still effective IMO.
    Night of the Demon is a horror classic, and in my top 10 horror favorites,
    seen it countless times, the demon scared the crap out of me when I was very young, not so much now.[​IMG]



    It's in the trees! It's coming! aaaargghh!
     
  3. Daniel J.S.

    Daniel J.S. Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't think the demon is crude at all; I think the design still holds up remarkably well. I'll admit that some of the effects work, particularly the stop-motion animation and compositing, are a little dodgy, but that's easily forgivable.
     
  4. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    TCM has David Edelstein (NY Mag & NPR critic) introducing movies for halloween and he's like a kid in a candy shop. He gave a glowing introduction to this movie, but I haven't yet watched it. I have the dvd which has both versions of the film (Night of and Curse of the Demon). I'd be interested in a discussion of the differences between the two cuts as I'm not familiar with what they are. Is there less or more of the Demon? Which, according to Edelstein, was added after the fact when the studio wanted to add more punch. Edelstein approved of the Demon and thought it was excellent. BTW, in one version of the film I watched at some point, perhaps from the boob tube, you could see below the demon, a man riding a stationary bicycle that was powering the demon. I presume this was visible due to incorrect cropping by the projectionist. Another tidbit is that the actor who plays the villain in Demon also plays the pilot in No Highway In The Sky with Jimmy Stewart.
     
  5. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    My two cents is that I love the demon. Being an older film I expected something more subtle, to see that giant demon flying down was such a great "WTF?!?!" it kept me riveted since it seemed that anything could happen.


    I'm also one who always wants to see the monster. I paid my money, show me the monsters damn it! :P
     
  6. Billy Batson

    Billy Batson Cinematographer

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    A big yea. I can understand the director not wanting to show it, so was it supernatural or just suggestion? But the design of the demon is so good: I like it with the demon.
     
  7. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    What I'm more interested in, is the differences between Night of the Demon and Curse of the Demon. I think one is an English cut and the other, American. I forget which is which. I think both have the Demon. What are the differences between the two cuts?
     
  8. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned

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    The British version relies more on the power of suggestion and depicts less of the monster. There is also some additional exposition. Watch the British version. I prefer it, myself. The film is impeccable either way. Both versions are on the DVD which is dirt cheap on amazon right now. http://www.amazon.com/Curse-Demon-Night-Dana-Andrews/dp/B0000694WH/ref=pd_cp_mov_2 and it's one of the best horror films you'll ever see.
     

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