Film / Night of the Demon

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"Dana Andrews said prunes
Gave him the runes
And passing them took lots of skill
"
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, "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 M. R. James.

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.

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 well done, and the other effects, though not particularly fancy, do a good job of ramping up the fright.

Not to be confused with the 1988 horror flick, Night of the Demons, or with the 1980 Video Nasty. See also Drag Me to Hell which is basically a remake of this with a few character changes and directed by Sam Raimi.

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