Blu-Ray Review: Night of the Demon

The occult has played a pivotal role in the evolution and development of genre cinema. The essence of evil, broken down into its component parts. The idea of demons, witches and magic has been prevalent in different societies around the world for hundreds and thousands of years. Films which focus on the dark arts (Rosemary’s Baby, The Wicker Man, The Devils etc) often gain a cult-like status. Based on a short story by M.R. James, Night of the Demon is a chilling slice of cabbalistic terror.

Dr. Holden (Dana Andrews) arrives in England only to discover that Professor Harrington (Maurice Denham) has died. He was due to attend a convention where Harrington was planning to unmask a satanic cult led by Dr. Karswell (Niall MacGinnis). The dead man’s niece, Joanna (Peggy Cummins), suspects supernatural forces, but Holden is having none of it. However, he gradually begins to question this belief when strange things start happening to him.

Night of the Demon is a classic Gothic horror which uses atmosphere and illusion to keep you in a fog of suspense. Incredibly, despite being made over fifty years ago, the newly restored version of Jacques Tourneur’s film still looks incredible today. Credit must go to Edward Scaife for his wonderful cinematography and use of perspective. Much of Night of the Demon’s charm is shrouded in its mystery. It’s a beguiling and enveloping tale of the power of the occult and the susceptibility of the human mind to suggestion.

Indicator Limited 2-disc Blu-ray Edition Special Features:

• Night of the Demon – the original full-length pre-release version (96 mins)
• Curse of the Demon – the US reissue version (96 mins)
• 2K BFI restoration presentations at 1.75:1
• High Definition remaster presentations at 1.66:1
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with film historian Tony Earnshaw, author of Beating the Devil: The Making of ‘Night of the Demon’
• Night of the Demon – the original UK theatrical cut (82 mins)
• Curse of the Demon – the original US theatrical cut (82 mins)
• High Definition remasters at 1.66:1
• Original mono audio
• Speak of the Devil: The Making of ‘Night of the Demon’ (2007, 20 mins): a documentary featuring actor Peggy Cummins and production designer Ken Adam
• Cloven in Two (2018, 23 mins): a video essay exploring the different versions
• Hal E Chester at the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films (1996, 51 mins): a rare archival video interview with the producer
• Dana Andrews on ‘Night of the Demon’ (1972, 10 mins): a rare audio interview with the actor conducted by film historian and preservationist Scott MacQueen
• The Devil’s in the Detail (2018, 36 mins): Christopher Frayling discusses the film and Ken Adam
• Horrors Unseen (2018, 27 mins): an interview with Chris Fujiwara, author of Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall
• Sinister Signs (2018, 21 mins): an analysis by Kim Newman, author of Nightmare Movies
• Under the Spell (2018, 19 mins): a personal appreciation by horror writer Ramsey Campbell
• The Devil Gets His Due (2018, 23 mins): Scott MacQueen details the film’s release history
• The Truth of Alchemy (2018, 22 mins): a discussion of M R James by author Roger Clarke
• The Devil in Music (2018, 11 mins): David Huckvale on composer Clifton Parker
• A Note of Fear (2018, 10 mins): Scott MacQueen discusses aspects of the film’s score
• Casting the Runes (1984, 53 mins): an audio recording of Michael Hordern reading M R James’ original story
• Escape: ‘Casting the Runes’ (1947, 30 mins): a radio adaptation of the story
• Super 8 version (7 mins): original cut-down home cinema presentation
• Isolated music & effects track
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: promotional and production material
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited Edition exclusive 80-page book containing a new essay by Kat Ellinger, M R James on ghost stories, a history of the film’s production through the words of its principal creators, a profile of witchcraft consultant Margaret Murray, the film’s history with the BBFC, a look at the different versions of the film, contemporary critical responses, a look at Charles Bennett’s original scripted ending, and film credits
• Limited Edition double-sided poster
• UK premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited Edition box set of 10,000 numbered copies

The 2K restoration of Night of the Demon is released by Powerhouse Films as part of their Indicator Series on 22 October.

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