le 3 mai 2016
NIGHT OF THE DEMON [1957 / 2013] [Limited Collector’s Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD + Book] [French Release] Chosen . . . Singled Out To Die . . . Victim of his Imagination or a Victim of a Demon!
MASTERPIECE OF JACQUES TOURNEUR FOR THE FIRST TIME ON BLU-RAY AND DVD, INCLUDING 3 VERSIONS OF THE FILM. Taken from the English author Montague R. James novel "Casting the Runes." ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’  is undoubtedly one of the finest films of a masterpiece of the genre. A marvel of Gothic-mystical fantastic ahead of its time and that perfectly exploits the disturbing atmosphere of the dark England, and in the golden age of Hammer Films genre, but instead by the Sabre Film Productions. A detail that is important for a film of Jacques Tourneur is the director who was anxious to play with light and shadow genre and to take its plot line to a climate of anxiety, magnified by disturbing scenery and especially by the remarkable significant Cinematography by Edward Scaife B.S.C. This cult Horror film work became an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the world of fantasy Horror film. Professor Harrington was killed in mysterious circumstances after he publicly accused Dr. Julian Karswell specialising in occult, charlatanism. A colleague of the victim, the eminent scholar American Dr. John Holden, investigation into his disappearance, but when Dr. Julian Karswell has a meeting, where he tries to frighten Dr. John Holden, by telling him that he would only have 3 days to live. Narrated by Shay Gorman (uncredited).
Cast: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Maurice Denham, Athene Seyler, Liam Redmond, Reginald Beckwith, Ewan Roberts, Peter Elliott, Rosamund Greenwood, Brian Wilde, Richard Leech, Lloyd Lamble, Peter Hobbes, Charles Lloyd Pack, John Salew, Janet Barrow, Percy Herbert, Lynn Tracy, Clare Asher (uncredited), Michelle Aslanoff (uncredited), Ballard Berkeley (uncredited), Shay Gorman (uncredited), John Harvey (uncredited), Irene Hollis (uncredited), Walter Horsbrugh (uncredited), Yvette Hosler (uncredited), Robert Howell (uncredited), Anthony John (uncredited), Michael Peake (uncredited), Anthony Richmond (uncredited), Leonard Sharp (uncredited), Robert Brooks Turner (uncredited and The Blake Twins (uncredited),
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Producers: Frank Bevis and Hal E. Chester
Screenplay: Charles Bennett, Hal E. Chester, Cy Endfield (uncredited) and Montague R. James (story "Casting the Runes")
Composer: Clifton Parker
Cinematography: Edward Scaife B.S.C.
Video Resolution: 1080p [Black-and-White]
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo, French: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo, English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo and French: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo
Running Time: 95 minutes, 82 minutes and 91 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of Discs: 2
Studio: Columbia Pictures Corporation / Wild Side Video
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ , or as it is known in America as ‘Curse of the Demon,’ is quite possibly one of the greatest horror films ever made. Director Jacques Tourneur [‘Cat People’] is responsible for some of the finest horror films ever made and has crafted a near masterpiece in ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON.’ The viewer’s own imagination is relied upon a great deal in Jacques Tourneur’s films, the key element is not what you do see that’s frightening, and it is what you don’t see that sends chills down your spine. It’s the lost art of “less is more” style of filmmaking that really sets the tone for this film, and provides almost all of the chills. After all, a viewer’s own imagination can produce something infinitely more horrific than almost anything a filmmaker can put on screen.
I have loved ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ ever since I first watched it on a small Black-and-White television a very long time ago, and yes, it may have been past my bedtime, so to have the thrill of staying up late to see it, meant I enjoyed it all the more. But ever since then, it’s been a firm favourite of mine. Looking back at it now with an adult eye, you can see that it’s a film that belongs on any decent foundation course in cinematic horror. Beautifully constructed and ingeniously fashioned by master film-craftsmen, it remains a haunting, chillingly plausible tale of witchcraft and the occult, and the conflict between rationality and superstition. But back when I was a young person, I was far more interested in the creepy demon of the title. That writhing, nasty-faced, woodcut-like creature and his arrival heralded by strange squealing strains, unsettling jangling noises, smoky footprints, and bizarre star-spangled puffs of smoke and captured my youthful imagination and I didn’t know it at the time, but the film was directed by a master of spooky, suspenseful, atmospheric cinema, the great Jacques Tourneur and I found out about him later on, as a fan of his genre film technique. Jacques Tourneur’s shadowy, moody films, which seemed to mix Gothic themes with “film noir” imagery, had that immediate appeal.
The film was adapted from Montague R. James’s short story “Casting the Runes” by Alfred Hitchcock collaborator Charles Bennett, and it grips you from the very beginning. Dana Andrews, playing sceptical American psychologist Dr. John Holden [Dana Andrews], scoffs when he’s passed a cursed piece of parchment in the British Museum reading room by genial masterfully occultist Dr. Julian Karswell [Niall MacGinnis]. It means that he’s scheduled to die at the demon’s hand within four days. Dr. John Holden doesn’t believe it. But having spotted that monster in the first reel, we the viewers know better than the sometimes irritatingly sure-of-himself scientist. And so John Holden is dragged ever further into a web of devilry, while perceptive Joanna Harrington [Peggy Cummins] races against time to convince him that it’s not all just flim-flam. But you can see why Dr. John Holden takes some convincing. While Dr. Julian Karswell really is the possessor of strange powers, Joanna Harrington acts like a show-off schoolboy conjuror spoiling the summer fete and a petulant, overgrown rich-kid know-all who lives with his mother, occasionally dabbling as a children’s entertainer, Dr. Julian Karswell’s a modern-day sorcerer who really doesn’t understand the seriousness of the dark forces at his command and doesn’t much care either.
In one splendid scene, set at his grand country house LUFFORD HALL in Warwichshire, merely to demonstrate his powers to the resolutely sceptical Dr. John Holden, Dr. Julian Karswell conjures up a whirlwind out of nowhere, and smiles smugly as terrified children whom he entertained, dressed as a clown, moments earlier and run screaming across the grounds of his stately pile. “A medieval witch’s speciality: a wind storm,” he gloats. He’s ruined their party. Shot in broad daylight, this eerie, darkly humorous scene demonstrates that good old Gothic horror film doesn’t need to take place at night, or even in a creepy castle; and that Jacques Tourneur is a master of mood, whatever the setting. And something tells me our old friend Alfred Hitchcock watched it closely.
Despite the monster, ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ is a masterful cerebral piece: it chills viewers intelligently, slowly, and fills them with an ominous sense of impending dread and looming, inevitable disaster, leavened with dark, dry dashes of humour and irony tactics that, once again, bring to mind a certain Mr. Alfred Hitchcock. And what’s more, it makes witchcraft creepily contemporary, compared to Modern-day malevolence of this kind would be the centrepiece of numerous films that were released after this Gothic Horror film genre.
Director Jacques Tourneur was enraged when he found out that the producers had inserted shots of a demon at the beginning and ending scenes of the film. They thought the audience needed to see a physical demon in order to make the Horror film scarier, thus producing a bigger box office draw. Jacques Tourneur on the other hand wanted to leave everything up to the audience’s reaction. The inclusion of a physical demon, which was both a puppet and a man in a suit, in my opinion is still frightening enough to help the movie and I feel it works in the films favour. To this day, there is great debate over whether the inclusion of the Demon was a detriment to an otherwise gem of a film or if it helped to add an additional fear factor. There are many people who rage over this very topic at conventions and online. Some film fanatics agree the design of the onscreen demon is surprisingly similar to old wood-carvings of a fire demon from ancient times and it adds authenticity to the film. Watch the film and you decide.
Arguably, the real star of the picture is Edward Scaife B.S.C. and his brilliant atmospheric cinematography and of course ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ would be nothing at all without his chiaroscuro lighting techniques. These transform even the benign luxury of Dr. Julian Karswell’s Lufford Hall into an eerie den of foreboding. Viewing the two alternate cuts of this cult Horror film side by side reveals how expertly fitted Jacques Tourneur’s staging of the action is of course of the overall pace or narrative structure. ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ is a remarkable film of its genre, with an exceptionally competent one with quite a few clever twists and turns peppered in for good measure. Jacques Tourneur had not wanted to show the audience the demon originally; but a decision was vetoed by producer, Hal E. Chester.
Blu-ray Video Quality – This is a totally awesome beautiful master that Sony Home Video has provided the Wild Side Video people for the brilliant ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ in wonderful 1080p encoded Black-and-White transfer images, with an equally impressive 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The image, stable and often very precise, respects the grain of the film. A detail that is important for a film of Jacques Tourneur, director anxious to play with light and shadow; the contrasts are particularly neat, with deep blacks. The level of restoration is so good even a company as renowned as The Criterion Collection would be hard pressed to match it or try to improve it. The grain has been left intact with no artificial sharping or using the DNR [Digital Noise Reduction] tools. Simply put the film has never looked so good. In yet another curious alliance, Sony Home Video has allowed Wild Side Home Video to release this remastered Blu-ray ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ only in France and is a very handsome package, indeed. Both versions of ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ [‘Curse of the Demon’] have undergone a considerable amount of restoration effort. The master restored by Wild Side Video offers a breath-taking picture. A great way to appreciate the scale of Edward Scaife aesthetic work on the light and reconnect with the fluidity particularly intriguing feature film. If some small traces persevere despite a careful restoration, contrasts them are perfectly cut, with powerful black and supported by an original grain perfectly rendered.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Wild Side Video presents us this brilliant ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ Blu-ray disc with four excellant audio experiences that consist of English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo, French: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo, English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo and French: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo and is extremely very effective, playing a lot of great surprises and fear with great clarity. A big effort was made to restore the sound atmosphere and dialogue, especially creating the sound quality of the film with skilfully recreating some totally brilliant distressing atmospheric moods and the results is that all the audio tracks are first-rate and brilliantly complements the beautiful black-and-white imagery for this cult classic cult Horror film work thriller. The film is mostly driven by the visuals and aesthetics for creating suspense, but character interaction and conversations are, of course, important for establishing an emotional depth. Dialogue reproduction is excellent, providing clear, intelligible tonal inflections emitted by the actors. The spectacular audio presentation also delivers a surprisingly wide dynamic range with superb clarity detail and acoustics. Subtle atmospheric effects can be clearly heard throughout the film's runtime to give the mix an appreciable sense of space and presence. So all in all the ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ film will satisfy all fans of this cult film, so top marks goes to Wild Side Video. Please note, you have to go to the Audio menu to select the language you require.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Blu-ray contains the longer version of the film at 95 minutes, and it also contains American shorter version film of 82 minutes. The DVD contains the version of the film at 91 minutes. I have checked out and viewed all three films and have concluded that the 95 minutes longer film version is the ultimate spine tingling watching experience, as it gives you a much better and fuller insight into of all the character actors in the film, and it gives you far more spine chilling experiences throughout the film and overall this is a far more superior cinema viewing experience.
Special Blu-ray Preview Trailer [1950 / 2013] [1080p] [1.33:1 / 1.78:1] [2:04] This is the Original French Blu-ray Trailer for ‘GUN CRAZY’ [aka Deadly is the Female] [Special Limited Edition and Numbered]. A film by director Joseph H. Lewis. Here with this brilliant promotion for the release of this special Blu-ray package from France. Includes a special 220 page booklet, with lots of rare black-and-white images, archive material related to the film, plus a DVD.
BONUS: A beautiful printed 144 page booklet that contains “THE TWILIGHT VERSANT" [Le Versant crépusculaire] written by the director and critic Michael Henry Wilson, the great connoisseur of the director who had already devoted a book in 2003 entitled “Jacques Tourneur or the suggestion of magic” by Editions du Centre Pompidou.” “THE TWILIGHT VERSANT" written by Michael Henry Wilson, who is a history film buff and has already written a book about the director Jacques Tourneur, in the book “THE TWILIGHT VERSANT" gives lots of out pouring his ideal complement towards the film. Not content to evoke the film, Michael Henry Wilson situates the contrary feature in all of the work of Jacques Tourneur, citing its fantastic design, how it is embodied in many of his films. In a style clear and digestible, the author then discusses the overall film production course, first addressing the adaptation of the new, the differences with the script of the film, and then discuss the film production itself, always link with the vision of director Jacques Tourneur cinema, personal beliefs, experiences, but also by addressing the sources of inspiration for the design of particular sets, special effects, the monster, and finally addressing the stormy relationship with producer and famous post additions filming the many details of the film are well explained, accurately documented, but clear: we learn such affection that united director Jacques Tourneur and its star, Dana Andrews, preference for the director Jacques Tourneur for all that was suggested, or his desire to make its identifiable human characters rather than unambiguous. The book is composed of many stunning rare black-and-white photographs from ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ film. It also has lots of rare photographs from earlier Jacques Tourneur films, and also a collection of stunning rare 1957 ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ colour cinema posters from around the world. The book even mentions the end of the filmmaker's career, because ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ was his last "big" film that director Jacques Tourneur could achieve. The book reveals further that surpasses and fulfils its role perfectly by going deeper into the subject. This is a stunning book that will let you know everything about this film that is little known today, as well as lots of quotes from the director Jacques Tourneur. Only available with French text.
Finally, ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ was not the instant classic box office success when the film was released in the cinema in 1957, compared to what the film has now become, a massive cult classic, which is well deserved, and especially now with the release of this brilliant Blu-ray remastered release. The film did not do as good as producers had hoped, but over the years it has garnered quite a fan base across the world and has achieved almost legendary status. This is a film that anyone that calls themselves a horror fan has to see at least once, it is imaginative, smart, and downright scary. If you are a fan of this 1957 classic British horror genre, this box set is a must buy and worth every penny. This Blu-ray release excels in every department and totally long overdue, especially for the North American cult fans, knowing that you will be glad to know the Blu-ray is All Regions, so you don't need a multi-region Blu-ray player for this Blu-ray disc. I give ‘NIGHT OF THE DEMON’ my highest praise ever. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom