Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Just Before Dawn

The 1980's saw the explosion of the slasher movie genre and of all the films released some are more well known than other.  Until recently I had never heard of this one but I read a few good things about it and once I had the chance to pick it up for five bucks at this years Monster Mania Convention I decided to give it a chance.  The film stars Chris Lemmon (son of the great Jack Lemmon), Gregg Henry (a character actor who has appeared in film and television for forty years,  Jamie Rose (Falcon Crest and Lady Blue), and George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke, Airport, and The Naked Gun series) who are the only actors you've possibly heard of before with the rest of them not doing much other than this film.  Jeff Lieberman ( Squirm, Blue Sunshine, and Satan's Little Helper) directed and wrote the screenplay.  He claims he was heavily influenced by Deliverance while he was writing it and it definitely shows in the final product.  The movie was called Survivance when it was released overseas to try and cash in on the fact it resembles Deliverance which was still very popular in Europe at the time.

 While most of the cast does a serviceable job here the best performances come from Katie Powell, John Hunsaker, Hap Oslund, and Barbara Spencer who play the hillbilly mountain family that the group of twenty somethings run into while camping in the Oregon woods.  The other best part of the film is the scenery which is captured beautifully by cinematographers Dean and Joel King.  Also setting the creepy atmosphere is the music which is supplied by Brad Feidel who also did the score for the first two Terminator films, Fright Night, The Serpent and The Rainbow, and Gladiator just to name a few. 

Some of the films best moments come when the killer laughs which he does throughout the film.  It sets a contrasting creepy feeling to the kills and it gives the same effect that the "dahhh-dum" piano notes do when we know Jaws is about to eat another victim.  There's also some creepy whistling that can be heard in the soundtrack as well that gave me chills whenever I would hear it.  Not to be confused with the horn Chris Lemmon blows, well  that thing was just annoying.  Mostly everything else is forgettable or at least there's nothing new here so it doesn't offer a memorable viewing experience but it good enough for a $5 special.  So with all that being said I can string together 3 Rope Bridges out of 5 for this one.        

"You can't kill the boogeyman!" ~ Tommy


Here's one that while not a Halloween song it has a great video that fits right in:

The Time Has Come.

I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil. 


You do the math:

The Many Deaths of Michael Myers:

Death has come to your little town, Sheriff. ~ Dr. Loomis

Back in the 1970's I had some sort of movie player that had a bunch of short movies that I could watch whenever I wanted. One of the movies I had and still love to this day was Lonesome Ghost by Disney. In it Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy are troubled with ghosts.   Now, some 40 years later here I am posting it one a blog. 

Here's another Disney Halloween cartoon

And another this one slightly before my time from 1929 called The Haunted House

And finally a more modern day Mickey Mouse cartoon called Ghoul Friend

Dr. Terror's House of Horror 1965

In 1965 Amicus Productions released the first of it's horror anthology Dr. Terror's House of Horror.  It was the first of seven horror anthology films that Amicus would release over the next decade.  The film was written by Milton Subotsky who was one of the founders of Amicus.  He wrote the screenplay with the 1945 anthology movie Dead of Night in mind which is a horror classic and one of the best horror anthologies ever made.  Freddie Francis directed but is better known for his work as a cinematographer for which he won two academy awards for Sons and Lovers and Glory. 

The wraparound story takes place on a train where five passengers are joined by Dr. Schrenk (Peter Cushing) who tells the other men his name in German means "terror".  He reveals a deck of Tarot cards he calls a "house of horrors" so now you know where the title comes from.  Dr. Terror is joined by Christopher Lee (of course!), Neil McCallum, Alan Freeman, Roy Castle, and Donald Sutherland.  This was Sutherland's third credited film role of his career and he was paid just 1,000 pounds for his work which would have been about $2500 dollars at the time.  I really can't tell you the titles of the five different stories as they were not given titles as much as they were labeled with the subject or situation happening in each story.  I liked the stories in order of how they are presented in the film meaning my least favorite is the first story and they improved from there with Lee's and Sutherland's being the fourth and fifth stories and the best two of the film by far.

There comes a time when an actor or actress is able to transcend films and roles and no matter what is going on around them they are still able to put in a remarkable performance.  We have that here especially from Lee, Cushing, and Sutherland.  Not that the rest of the stars are not good it just seems they also happen to be there.  If this was a Star Trek episode the others would be wearing red shirts.  The first story is boring, the second one is more funny than anything, the third is typical and I found it hard to pay attention to them.  The final two stories as I said were the best as well as the wrap around story which I also enjoyed.  Cushing is surprisingly creepy here which is something I am not used to as he is usually the one playing the straight man in horror films.  Thankfully the film is more fun than anything else and that's fine but I really had my heart set on something better as I've heard so many good things about this one.  I liked it but I wanted to like it more.  The film is worth watching for Cushing's work and the final two stories alone.  Three out of five tarot cards for this one.  The Horror Honey was not as kind and gives it two and a half.

I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.

Here's a couple for the really little fans of Halloween:

Happy Samhain

It's A Halloween Free For All 

Nightmare on Elm Street

   The 70's and 80's serial killer/slasher boom brought about the creation of icons such as Leatherface, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and 1984's saw the birth of yet another name to the list, Freddy Krueger.  Written and directed by the late great Wes Craven, Freddy would enter your dreams or nightmares and you know the rule: if you die in your dream you die for real.  The story gave a new twist to the serial killer genre as it brought the dreamworld into play and gave new dimension to the horrors to befall on our hapless victims.  The original film in the franchise, of course, stars Robert England as Freddy, Heather Langencamp as Nancy the heroine of the first story and Freddy's first "final girl", John Saxon as Heather's father who is also the sheriff, Ronee Blakley (Nashville) plays Heather's mother who has a lot to do with the legend of Freddy Krueger, and Johnny Depp in the first feature film role of his career.

 This was the one that the foundation of the Elm Street franchise was built upon.  The birth of Freddy Krueger child killer and supernatural serial killer that even death couldn't stop.  Oddly enough the only issue I have with the film is with Heather Langencamp's performance.  I found her to be a little uneven meaning she was over dramatic when she didn't need to be and was a little low key when she should have been a little more commanding if she knew peoples lives were on the line.  Everything else in the first Nightmare film is creepy good fun and it's done nearly to perfection.  I always enjoy this one.

When you first hear the jump rope song and hear the knives screeching across the metal pipe you know you are in Freddy's world and there's no rules there.  Except for the ones Freddy makes and then breaks.  The music performed by Charles Bernstein adds a dream like quality to every scene it's in offering a nice dose of asymmetry that really keeps you off balance and not knowing where the "safe scenes" are coming.  There's plenty more films to the franchise (including the latest film, the attempted reboot, that failed miserably) and they all have some great scenes and some are very good films however, you never forget your first time with Freddy.  The Horror Honey and I were joined by my 75 year old Auntie Grizelda for this one and we all agreed that this one is a classic.  We all give this one 4 Brown Fedoras out of 5.      

Mysery 1990

Oh hey look, another Stephen King novel turned into a film.  This one is from 1990 and stars James Caan plays Paul Sheldon an author who crashes his car on a snowy road and is saved by his number one fan, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) who doesn't necessarily have Caan's best interests in mind.  The film is directed by Rob Reiner while Robert Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride) wrote the screenplay.  Also co-starring is Frances Sternhagen, Richard Farnsworth, and Lauren Bacall. 

This one is about as good as a Stephen King novel turned film can get.  Caan is great as the victim to Bates' psychopathic mood swings.  One minute she loves him and the next moment she is breaking his legs with a sledgehammer.  The "hobbling" scene is still one of the hardest scenes for me to watch that has ever put on screen.  Bates would go on to win an Oscar for the Best Supporting Actress category.  Yes, a Stephen King movie actually won an Oscar.  What can you say about her performance?  Bates was an unknown talent before the movie came out so this left us all with quite a first impression. 

The film remained very faithfully to the novel and all of the tension and suspense from the novel actually transferred over exceptionally well.  Reiner took the screenplay, that he worked very closely with during the adaption, and got exactly what he wanted from his actors.  When I was writing about this it surprised me that Barry Sonnenfeld was the cinematographer of the movie.  When I think of his name I think of the Men In Black movies as well as The Addams Family movies.  Of course I also think of him as a director not as a cinematographer so that explains some of the breathtaking shots that are featured throughout the film.  The Horror Honey and I both give the film 4 COCK - A - DOODIE CARS out of 5.  My Auntie Grizelda was with us for this one and she gives this one 3 and a half which is big for her considering she actually likes this one.     

Monsters 2010

Before Gareth Edwards directed Rogue One, he wrote and directed this sci-fi creature feature in 2010.  It was the first feature film of his career.  He also did the cinematography, production design, and visual effects for the film.  Aside from himself only five other people worked on the film not counting the actors and it was shot in three weeks and cost around $500,000 to make.  In many scenes locals were used as extras and given outlines for plot points but no script and rolled cameras and filmed the ad libs to edit later which worked surprisingly well.  The character development and interaction is some of the better parts of the movie.  The movie did very well at the box office considering it's budget and earned over four million dollars.  The two main characters of the film are Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), a professional photographer, and Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) the daughter of Kaulder's boss.  Kaulder is forced to escort Wynden back to the US after she is stranded somewhere in Mexico which is considered the "infected zone" after an alien invasion. 

McNairy and Able work well together throughout the movie and as their characters relationship develops the movie plots along at a great pace.  Even when the creatures are not on screen we are never allowed to forget about their presence as we are always made to feel they could show up at any second.  The creatures, in fact, end up being secondary and it feels like we are watching a budding romance road movie that also happens to have gigantic aliens around that might kill them.  They also have more to worry than the aliens there are also human monsters around who are finely disguised as ferry boat employees that continue to raise the price of a ferry ticket as the danger draws closer and closer to where they are.  Once they get to America things are not as better as they had hope it would be.

It is in the movies strengths that we find some of it's weaknesses however as due do all the time spent on the relationship building we don't see the monsters a great deal.  Unfortunately that doesn't make the times we do see the "Monsters" a special occasion either as you would think it would but for some reason it feels like it actually detracts from it.  This spells trouble for the film as we have a movie titled "Monsters" that doesn't have a lot of monsters in it.  Some may be okay with that and if so all the better for you it just felt like I needed the monsters to more than just look frightening I needed to see them do more in the film and not just see the aftermath of their invasion.  Perhaps the film needed to take place more closely to the beginning of the invasion as six years after is where our story begins making the main characters seem a little jaded with it all at times.  Perhaps the problem comes with how the movie is sold, Love In The Time Of Monsters might have been a better title for this one (of course that would have made the unrelated 2014 movie that is actually titled this to look for a new name) and alerted viewers that were seeing a love story AND a monster picture.  Of course maybe I'm just complaining too much.  I give it 2 and half giant tentacles out of 5.  The Horror Honey gives it 3 stars and claims it's a chick flick monster movie.  Maybe that's where the film really finds it's viewers and if that's the case then for that it is a huge success.  Doesn't change me grade but it helps me understand the film better.      

Monday, October 30, 2017

Carrie 2013

 Usually I'm not a big fan of remakes of older films.  Sometimes they are better than the original but they are few and far between.  So after saying that we have this remake of a 1974 film which based on the novel by Stephen King.  This version does not claim to be based on the novel but rather claims it is a re-imagining of the novel.  I am a huge King fan and I really liked the first film version starring Sissy Spacek and John Travolta.  Here we have Chloe-Grace Moretz as the title character with Julianne Moore playing her troubled and religious fanatic mother.  Also starring is Judy Greer as Carrie's teacher who takes a liking to the odd student after a bunch of girls tease her when Carrie has her period during gym class.  Rounding out the cast is Gabriella Wilde is Sue Snell who feels guilty as she was one of the girls teasing Carrie and tries to make amends by having her boyfriend take Carrie to the prom.  Ansel Elgort plays Tommy, Sue's boyfriend who takes Carrie to the prom in an attempt to make Carrie feel accepted.  If you know the story you already know things don't go well.

 Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Glee, Riverdale) wrote the screenplay while Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry, Stop-Loss) handled the directing.  Everyone had their work cut out for them with this one.  When you are redoing a film that in my opinion didn't need a remake you are walking in dangerous territory.  Surprisingly everyone does their job and while the film doesn't have any blaring issues it's just not as good as the original.  It's not particular bad it's just not memorable and it doesn't change any of the story enough to make it stand out on it's own.  I have to put this one is the category of a film that is actually lesser than all of it's parts. 

Moore and Greer are the two actresses that really stand out for me in this one and while I am a fan of Moretz, she just didn't do it for me as Carrie here.  She was OK just not as good as Spacek's version and whenever you are watching an actor or actress play a role made famous by someone else it's hard not to wish you were watching the '74 version.  It just never gets over that hump for me.  The Horror Honey and I both gave this one 3 and a half Buckets of Pig Blood out of 5.  We also had Auntie Grizelda on hand for this one.  She is also a huge King fan and she was very critical of this one and she only gave it 3 out of 5.  She's a tough one folks!   

I’m your number one fan. Annie Wilkes

Another Creepy Halloween Gallery 

Just hours to go now until the culmination of the celebration!

We Are What We Are 2013

We Are What We Are is a 2013 retelling of a Mexican film of the same name.  I say retelling instead of remake because it is quite different from the original but the core of the story is the same.  Jim Mickle (Stake Land, Mulberry Street) took care of the directing as well as the screenplay which was co-written by Nick Damici who also plays Sheriff Meeks in the film.  Bill Sage, Julia Garner, Ambyr Childers, and Jack Gore play a father and his three children who are suddenly rocked by the death of their wife and mother.  With her death it will be up to her daughters to keep the families traditions alive going forward.

This one is a slow plodded out trek that reaches the reveal near the end quite nicely even if it is a bit gruesome.  Sage is horrifying as the father who that as long as he does everything in honor of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ then it is all for the greater good.  The daughters are a perfect combination of pitiful determination with the need to keep the family together and alive their number one priority.  Kelly McGillis co-stars as their nosy but caring neighbor with Wyatt Russell (Kurt and Goldie's son) as the town deputy.  Michael Parks (who unfortunately passed away earlier this year) plays the mortician who is getting closer and closer to figuring out their family secret.

This one has a feeling of dreary depression all over it as it seems to rain throughout the entire film.  They do comment several times that this has been the rainy season or something to that effect.  There's some really good story telling in this one as well as making a statement about the radicalization of religion.  Some won't like the subject matter and you will probably suspect what's to come before but even when you know it's not always what you see happen that is the worst part but what you know must have happened right before the scene you are now watching.  While being off screen it is the imagination that makes some of this movie worse than it is.  Now the question begs is the wait worth it?  Would you wait in line for an hour to get on your favorite ride at the amusement park?  If your answer is yes than this movie is for you.  If not then maybe better to avoid all together.  The Horror Honey and I were both entertained and we give this one 3 and a half Dirty Fingernails out of 5.  P.S. stay for the creepy country song that really cements the ending of the movie into you memory.                

Society 1989

When a movie is completed in 1989 but not released until 1992 it makes me wonder just what is wrong with it.  This is what happened with Society a horror comedy directed by Brian Yuzna (producer of Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Re-Animator, From Beyond) who has appeared a few times in the Halloween Blog-A-Thon.  This was his first time in the directors chair.  The film was written by Rick Fry and Woody Keith who also co-wrote Bride of Re-Animator and Dementia together.  The film stars Billy Warlock (Baywatch, Days of Our Lives, General Hospital) as a spoiled rich kid who just doesn't seem to fit in with his family of with high society.  Heidi Kozak plays his annoying valley girl girlfriend Shauna and Devin DeVasquez plays Clarissa the sexy stranger who seduced him into cheating on his girlfriend.  Connie Danese, Charles Lucia, and Patricia Jennings plays his mother, father, and sister Jenny, the rest of this dysfunctional family.

Where do I begin with this one?  For about an hour I was trying to figure out when the comedy and the horror parts would begin as all I saw was a really annoying character study of rich kids in Beverly Hills.  The only bright spots being Warlocks's family who were oddly creepy.  I mean "feel dirty after watching scenes with all of them in it" creepy.  Do I really care about this rich kid who is running for class president and feels the need to see a therapist because he just doesn't fit in with high society?  We begin to notice that more and more people around Billy are in some sort of secret society that he just will never fit in with.  That's where the story makes a statement about people not fitting in and understanding rich people.  GAG!  One of them even comments something about the rich eating the poor.

Something happens around the one hour mark in this film.  Someone flips a switch and all of a sudden this film gets disturbingly gross.  It turns into a sweaty, bloody mess and the entire special effects budget is used in about thirty minutes of film.  Does it save the movie?  Not completely but it did make me look at Denise and ask her "What the hell just happened?".  It seemed like they suddenly remembered this was a horror comedy so they figured they better put something funny and disgusting in it.  Which they do.  It saves the movie from being a complete failure but not by much, I still can only give it 2 and a half Jeep Wranglers out of 5.  The Horror Honey was slightly more generous and gave it a full 3.            

Cell 2016

 It's no surprise that I'm a Stephen King fan and as far as I know I have read everything he has ever written (some new things I may not have gotten around to just yet) and I've seen every movie based on his works.  With that being said when I had the chance to pick up Cell for five bucks I couldn't pass up the opportunity no matter how many negative things I have heard about it.  I had high hopes for this one as Stephen King himself had a hand in writing the screenplay which is where I always thought King movies lacked when someone else wrote the screenplay something was missing and I felt a disconnect between the end result and the source material.  Considering most of his stories I love.  So how did this one do?  It's a little bit of an in-betweener, and yes, I'm hedging.

 John Cusack stars along with Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Furman, and Stacy Keach as survivors left to figure out what to do next after a pulse is sent through cell phones across the world at the same time.  All the people that were on their cells at that moment are turned into violent zombie like creatures that either try to kill the survivors or turn them into zombies as well.  Adam Alleca (Last House on the Left) assisted with the screenplay writing with Tod Williams (The Door in the Floor, Paranormal Activity 2) taking care of the directing.  I liked the book so much that this is taken from I might already have a built in sentimentality for this one but I'll do my best to stay impartial.

I also have to add I'm not a huge Cusack fan although he has done a few films I have liked in the past I just don't go out of my way to see his films unless I have a reason.  Samuel L. Jackson is always good and even though he seems bored for most of this movie he is still one of my favorites.  Stacy Keach is OK here as he plays a typical role for him lately where you don't know if he is going to help the heroes of the story or not.  While the story sticks to the book fairly well except for the ending I still feel like something is missing here.  I can't put my finger on it but it's another one of those films where the end product is less than the sum of it's parts.  On paper it should be a really good movie.  It's merely OK and if you haven't read the book you have even less invested in the story.  If you are a King fan and have read Cell, I would recommend it but otherwise it's a 50-50 proposition on weather this one will be worth your time.  The Horror Honey and I who have both read Cell gave this one 3 Harvard Sweatshirts out of 5.  Once again we had my Aunt Grizelda on hand for this one and while she is a Stephen King fan like myself and she has read Cell as well and she only gave this one 2 and a half.     

Near Dark 1987

Near Dark is a vampire film released in 1987 starring Adrian Pasdar (Carlito's Way and Heroes), Jenny Wright (Out of Bounds and I, Madman), Lance Henriksen (Aliens and Pumpkinhead), and Bill Paxton (Twister and Apollo 13).  Pasdar is bitten by Wright, a newly turned vampire that runs with a group of outlaw vampires including Paxton with Henrickson being their elder leader.  Near Dark was both Pasdar and Wright's first starring roles on the big screen.  The film was directed by Kathryn Bigelow who also co-wrote the screenplay along with Eric Red, who also wrote The Hitcher.  Bigelow would go on and direct Point Break, The Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty.  The latter two Bigelow also served as executive producer. 

 One of the most impressive thing about this movie is that the word vampire is never spoken by anyone in the film.  If the title Lust in the Dust had not already been used by a comedy western a few years before this was released it would have been a perfect name for this movie.  It is full of lust (both sexual and blood in nature) and dust.  It's sometimes difficult to tell what time of day it is during the movie due to the fact that it seems there are usually dust storms going on.  Are we on the planet Mercury and nobody told us?  The film has a desperate bleakness to it that is filmed perfectly by the cinematographer Adam Greenberg who also did the work of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.  Before I forget I also have to give credit to Tangerine Dream for a really great film score.  All of the actors do a really good job of selling the script and story.  All are very believable including some supporting roles from Tim Thomerson, who plays Pasdars's father and Joshua John Miller who plays the younger vampire, Homer.  I also don't want to leave out Jennette Goldstein who plays the female elder vampire.

Let's go back and talk about Bill Paxton for a second.  His portrayal of Severen, the loose cannon of the group, is both the most violent character in the film but also has the best lines as well.  His performance is the one you will remember the most and other than Twister it is the role I think of when I hear his name.  The real shame here is that this film is extremely overlooked by the mainstream and I'm not really sure why.  Could be that it was too serious for the time as comedy vampire films were the norm at the time.  Also a similar vampire film The Lost Boys was released around the same time.  It did not do well at the box office and the film was considered a flop even though it garnered positive reviews.  In the years since it has gained a cult following and deservedly so.  If you have not seen this film and are a Bill Paxton fan I suggest you put it one your watch list.  Even if you are not a Paxton fan this should be on your list as there's a good chance it will make you a Paxton fan.  He's that good here.  It's a perfect way to remember the late great actor.  The Horror Honey and I are back on the same page and we both give this one 3 and a half Bloody Spurs out of 5.       

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hill House had stood for 90 years and might stand for 90 more. Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there... walked alone.

The Groovie Goolies: 

Something all the good little boys and ghouls will be chanting in a few short nights:

(for the record so will I!!)

Sorry about the long title up there but I tried to edit it down to a few less words but it didn't make sense so I left it long. 

The House That Dripped Blood

1971's The House That Dripped Blood was the third anthology film released by Amicus Productions.  The film was directed by Peter Duffell (England Made Me, Kind of the Wind) and was written by Robert Bloch who wrote the original novel Psycho.  The film stars horror movie icons Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing with Denholm Elliott (Alfie, Raiders of the Lost Ark), Ingrid Pitt (Countess Dracula, The Vampire Lovers), Nyree Dawn Porter (From Beyond the Grave, The Forsyte Saga), and Jon Pertwee (Doctor Who, Worzel Gummidge) co-starring.  The film centers around a mysterious house where an inspector from Scotland Yard is investigating a missing persons report and goes to the estate agent who is in charge of taking care of the house in between tenants.  The inspector is told the history of the house through a series of four stories.

The stories include:
 Method For Murder - A horror novelist is haunted by visions of the dangerous psychopath that is the main character in his new novel.

Waxworks - Inside of a wax museum two men find the wax figure of a woman that is very familiar to both of them.

Sweets to the Sweet - A teacher doesn't like the way a widower is raising his daughter.

The Cloak - An actor buys a cloak from a pawnshop in order to play a part in his new film.  The cloak comes with a mysterious power. 

This is another one of those anthologies where the stories get better as the movie goes on.  The first story is forgettable.  The second story is only slightly better but even a bad Cushing story is still a pretty good story.  The third is satisfying.  The final story is by far the best even if it is also the most lighthearted and campy part of the film.  Pertwee shines in the main role which oddly enough was originally supposed to be played by Vincent Price but he was under contract with AIP at the time and was not allowed to be in a horror film for a competing company.  The wrap around story is surprisingly well done also and captivated my attention throughout every change over in stories.  If Pertwee is the best male performance in the film I have to give the best performance for a female to Ingrid Pitt if for no other than her *ahem* considerable assets that add very nicely to the film.  While the house is sufficiently creepy and the atmosphere is set very nicely sometimes we need to be reminded that the story is about the house after all.  With that in mind there is not one drop of blood to be found in The House That Dripped Blood.  I give it 3 and a half For Rent Signs out of 5 while the Horror Honey was in the ballpark and gave it 3.    

Night of the Demon 1957

Night of the Demon (or Curse of the Demon as it was called in The US, more on that later) is a 1957 British horror starring Dana Andrews as John Holden who strongly opposes all things supernatural.  He travels to England to disprove claims made by a deceased colleague about a Satanic cult.  The cult is led by Dr. Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis) who summoned a demon to kill Holden's deceased colleague.  It is through the deceased diary that is given to Holden by the man's niece, Joanna (Peggy Cummins) that the man feared Karswell's power.  Holden decides to go speak to Karswell to get to the bottom of his colleagues death.  Karswell tells Holden that he will die in three days. 

There is not a bad acting job to be found in this film.  Everyone is convincing and the seance scene is surprisingly creepy.  The sophistication that this movie is crafted with absolutely astounds me every time I see it.  MacGinnis plays his character so well that you can't believe if he is a Satanic cult leader or not, he is, but he's so good at it you don't know that he is especially when we see him playing a clown at a child's Halloween party.  There's some really great interactions between him and Andrews.  Speaking of interactions, Andrews and Cummins have some really great scenes as well.  The demon that we see a few times in the film is really well done.  The visual effect almost didn't appear in the film which would have been criminal.  Producer and screenwriter Hal E. Chester wanted to put the demon in but everyone else including the director Jacques Tourneur, co-writer Charles Bennet, and even Dana Andrews himself didn't want it in.  I'm so glad it was included; I cannot imagine how this film would have been if they had not included it. 

Now for what didn't work and a couple of things didn't, let's face it some effect techniques were still fairly raw in the 1950's.  There is a scene where Andrews is attacked by a a leopard or cheetah or something like that and some of the time you can clearly see it's just a stuffed animal.  The other part comes when a piece of paper that has a curse written in runes on it takes on a life of it's own and starts to move on it's own.  Or is it blowing in the wind?  Either way it's being pulled around by an obvious piece of string or fishing line or something really visible.  That's the only negatives I have for this one; everything else is perfection.  I give it a real modest 4 Stonehenges out of 5.  It's really close to a 4 and a half if not for those two effects blunders.  Denise, The Horror Honey gives it 3 and a half.

Oh, I forgot to mention a few things; the movie was called Curse of the Demon in the U.S. and it was edited down from 95 minutes to just 81 minutes.  One of my favorite scenes, the seance was cut out as well as the scenes at Stonehenge.  Now, I've never seen the shorter version but I can't imagine it can be better so I will stick with the one I've always seen although I do own both versions.  The other point I wanted to make is this film is very much cemented in my culture by two degrees of separation.  First it is quotes from the seance scene that appear in Kate Bush's song Hounds of Love.  The lines "It's in the trees.  It's coming." appear at the beginning of the song.  Speaking of songs; the theme to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Science Fiction/Double Feature) makes reference to the film as well.  A line from the theme says: "Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes and passing them used lots of skills.".  Night of the Demon will live on is pop culture for many years to come.