You are cordially invited to attend
the annual children's Hallowe'en fete
at Lufford Hall
Your host, Doctor Bobo the Magnificent
Niall MacGinnis, Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins
Warning: The host's mood is a changeable as the weather. Once a harmless children's magician "Doctor Bobo" is now Julian Karswell, the leader of a devil cult. He has power and wealth which is jealously guarded. The protection of his status has led to two murders that we are aware of and nothing, in this realm or the next, seems to be beyond his abilities. Karswell is played with deliciously subtle evil by Niall MacGinnis, so sympathetic in 49th Parallel.
Dana Andrews (The Best Years of Our Lives, Laura) plays John Holden, an American psychologist and de-bunker of the occult. He is the latest of Karswell's victims. Holden has come to England to participate in a convention with the worthy title of "Investigation of International Reports of Paranormal Psychology". In particular, he was to join a Professor Harrington in unmasking Karswell's cult. Unfortunately, in the course of his inquiry into the cult, Professor Harrington met with a fatal accident. A similar fate now awaits Holden.
Karswell to Holden: "You will die as I say. At ten o'clock on the 28th of this month. Your time allowed is just three days from now."
Holden is a practical man with an ordered, scientific mind. He puts no stock in such hocus-pocus as hexes and curses. However, his newfound companion Joanna Harrington, niece of Holden's deceased colleague has been researching her uncle's papers and uncovers disturbing elements in his death. Joanna is played with controlled hysteria by Peggy Cummins (Gun Crazy, The Late George Apley).
Joanna: "You could learn a lot from children. They believe in things in the dark and we tell them it's not so. Maybe we've been fooling them."
Andrews's performance as a man desperately holding onto his sanity in the face of unfathomable evil is the centerpiece of this fright-filled film.
John Holden: "What do you expect me to do? Nobody is free from fear. I have an imagination like anyone else. It's easy to see a demon in every dark corner, but I refuse to let this thing take possession of my good sense."
Night of the Demon's director is Jacques Tourneur (Stars in My Crown, Out of the Past) whose earliest features were horror classics created at RKO's fabled Val Lewton unit: Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, and The Leopard Man. Tourneur knew his away among the shadows, the mysterious hallways, the startling sound, the sudden appearance of a hand on a banister, the creak of a door, or the rising of the wind. The urgent, insistent score by Clifton Parker augments the visuals and the mind games of Night of the Demon to create a perfect thriller.
Another warning: The world in general, and John Holden in particular, should learn to take fluttery little old ladies a little more seriously. It is in their best interests.
TCM is screening Curse of the Demon on Saturday, October 31st at 10:00 pm. I can think of no more perfect way to cap off Hallowe'en.