Friday, January 28, 2011

Night of the Demon (1957)

"Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes, and passing them used lots of skills."

Tenth movie referenced in the song Science Fiction/Double Feature. Eight down, three to go. Has it really been nine months since my last?

On my first attempt to decipher that line I concluded that runes rimes with prunes and skill rimes with thrill from the following stanza and that's it. But on closer inspection ... well, let's say this may be the cleverest line of the song.

Dana is Doctor John Holden, no-nonsense American scientist. He flies to England to take part in a paranormal phychology conference that is investigating satanic cult leader, Julian Karswell. Dr. Holden doesn't believe in such nonsense and intends on exposing Karswell as a fraud.

Holden learns that his colleague Professor Harrington is dead, but he has a hot young niece (Peggy Cummins), which is just as good. Maybe better, nudge nudge, wink wink. Anyhoo, The Amazing Karswell tries to convince Holden to stop the investigation and that he has real power (which seem to be competing agendas), but Sensible Holden won't have any of it.

Well, Holden does some poking around, Karswell does a little hokus pokus, and it seems our hero has three days to live. Karswell slips a paper with ancient runes on it to the good doctor and that will cause a demon to appear and go munch munch. How ever will he ever escape?

I was prepared to be annoyed with the movie. I've had a relative tell me once that all religions other than Christianity were devil worship and I saw this movie moving the same direction. Ancient, pre-christian gods became Christian demons. But it spent no time worrying about such matters. Instead it spun a great tale. The story, the acting, the script, everything was done well. No draggy parts, no weak ending, no fatal flaws. Except maybe for the demon. The original idea was to not show it and leave it's reality up to the audience. Then they decided that maybe being eaten by a giant muppet would be better. So it goes.

Still, it's an excellent film. AMRU 4.5.

1 comment:

  1. Another good film from the era about the collision of science and superstition is Burn, Witch, Burn. Not very well-known, but it is on Netflix Instant right now. Beautifully photographed in glorious black and white!