-->"''Dana Andrews said prunes\\
Gave him the runes\\
And passing them took lots of skill''"
-->--'''''Film/TheRockyHorrorPictureShow''''', "''Science Fiction Double Feature''"
Classic 1957 horror film, sometimes titled "Curse of the Demon." It was directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced by Hal E. Chester, based on the short story "Casting the Runes" by Creator/MontagueRhodesJames.
It starred Dana Andrews as skeptical professor John Holden, Peggy Cummins as the less-skeptical Joanna Harrington, and Niall [=MacGinnis=] as evil but charming cult leader Julian Karswell.
The plot involves Holden's attempts to put down a devil-worshipping cult led by Karswell, who is able to use Celtic runes to cause a demon to attack his enemies. Of course, Karswell is able to slip some runes on Holden, who must try to avoid death at the demon's scaly hands.
This has all the appearance of an incredibly cheesy horror flick -- particularly, the demon pictured in close-up in the cover looks silly, not scary, and the film's low budget is sometimes apparent. Don't let that put you off. The script is very intelligent, the characterizations are awfully good, and it's got a slew of creepy moments and excellent suspense. The demon is only used twice, and the other effects, though not particularly fancy, do a good job of ramping up the fright.
[[SimilarlyNamedWorks Not to be confused with]] the 1987 horror flick, ''Film/NightOfTheDemons'', or with the 1980 [[VideoNasties Video Nasty]]. See also ''Film/DragMeToHell'' which is basically a remake of this with a few character changes and directed by Creator/SamRaimi.
!!''Night of the Demon'' provides examples of:
* AffablyEvil: Karswell is an extremely likeable, charming man. He's also a spell-casting Satanist who murders casual acquaintances.
* AgentScully: Holden is a rock-solid skeptic about the supernatural.
* AllHallowsEve: Karswell hosts a Halloween party for the local children.
* ElementalPowers: Karswell very casually conjures up a terrific windstorm.
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas: Karswell's relationship with his mother is very gentle and loving, [[spoiler: even after she betrays him.]]
* EvilIsOneBigHappyFamily: Rand Hobart's creepy family rejected him because he wasn't dedicated enough to ''die'' for Karswell's cult. ''"It were meant for him, but he passed it to a brother... A true believer. Not like him."''
* FlatEarthAtheist: Holden gets almost ridiculous when he starts rationalizing away the most utterly unnatural events imaginable as 'some sort of a trick'. [[SubvertedTrope It is subverted]] at the climax, however, when he tells Karswell that he does indeed believe in his powers now... [[spoiler:so much so that he'll keep Karswell with him so the demon can kill BOTH of them]].
* FriendToAllChildren: Karswell hosts Halloween parties for local children. He appears to really like them, and vice versa.
* InstantRunes: Averted. Karswell's runes are written on simple strips of paper.
* LotteryOfDoom: It's strongly implied that this is how [[ReligionOfEvil Karswell's devil cult]] chooses its victims for HumanSacrifice. Unlike most such examples, they normally do it to their own members.
* MonsterClown: Karswell dresses as a clown for the Halloween party. He's not a particularly monstrous clown, he's nice to all the children, and basically friendly with the protagonist... but the guy is a storm-summoning Satanist...
* RailroadTracksOfDoom: What gets the blame when [[spoiler: the demon kills Karswell]].
* ReligionOfEvil: Karswell's devil cult, what else?
* SkepticNoLonger: Holden finally gives up his skepticism, at least about Karswell's powers.
* SpookySilentLibrary: Holden has a creepy encounter with Karswell in the British Library.
* SpookySeance: Karswell's mother takes Holden and Joanna to a seance to try to convince them to believe in the supernatural.
* SuperSmoke: The demon's appearance is heralded by an approaching ball of smoke, with the demon rising out of it.
* SuperWindowJump: How [[spoiler: Rand Hobart]] kills himself.
* VocalDissonance: The medium at the seance speaks in a wide variety of voices as he channels spirits.