Night of the Demon – UK, 1957 – reviews

‘Hell on Earth! Scenes of terror never before imagined!’

Night of the Demon is a 1957 British horror feature film directed by Jacques Tourneur (Cat People; I Walked with a Zombie), starring Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins and Niall MacGinnis.

An adaptation of the M. R. James’ 1911 story Casting the Runes, the plot revolves around an American psychologist investigating a satanic cult suspected of more than one murder. The script was written as The Bewitched.


The film’s production was turbulent due to clashing ideas between producer Hal E. Chester on one side and Jacques Tourneur and writer Charles Bennett on the other.

To accelerate the pace, the film was trimmed down to 83 minutes (and retitled Curse of the Demon) in the USA where it played the second half of a double feature with films such as The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958).

Night of the Demon is receiving a Limited Edition Blu-ray release via Powerhouse Films Indicator imprint in the UK on October 22, 2018.

Buy Blu-ray:

  • The British Film Institute (BFI)’s 2013 2K restoration of the 96-minute version
  • High-definition remaster of the 82-minute cut
  • Original mono audio
  • Four presentations of the film: Night of the Demon – the original full-length pre-release version (96 mins), and the original UK theatrical cut (82 minutes); Curse of the Demon – the original US theatrical cut (82 mins), and the US re-issue version (96 mins)
  • Audio commentary with film historian Tony Earnshaw, author of Beating the Devil: The Making of ‘Night of the Demon’
  • Speak of the Devil: The Making of ‘Night of the Demon’ (2007): documentary featuring interviews with actor Peggy Cummins, production designer Ken Adam and historians Tony Earnshaw and Jonathan Rigby
  • Dana Andrews on ‘Night of the Demon’: a rare audio interview with the actor conducted by Scott MacQueen
  • The Devil’s in the Detail (2018): Christopher Frayling on Night of the Demon and acclaimed production designer Ken Adam
  • Horrors Unseen (2018): a discussion of the celebrated director of Night of the Demon by Chris Fujiwara, author of Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall
  • Sinister Signs (2018): an analysis by Kim Newman, author of Nightmare Movies
  • Under the Spell (2018): the celebrated British horror writer Ramsey Campbell discusses the unique combination of M R James and Jacques Tourneur
  • The Devil in Music (2018): a new appreciation of Clifton Parker’s score by David Huckvale, author of Movie Magick: The Occult in Film
  • The Devil Gets His Due (2018): film historian and preservationist Scott MacQueen on the release history of Night of the Demon
  • The Truth of Alchemy (2018) a discussion of M R James and ‘Casting the Runes’ by Roger Clarke, author of A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof
  • Cloven In Two (2018): a new video piece exploring the different versions of the film
  • Escape: ‘Casting the Runes’ (1947): a radio play adaptation of James’ original story
  • Super 8 version: original cut-down home cinema presentation
  • Isolated music & effects track on the US theatrical cut
  • Original US Curse of the Demon theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography, including rare production design sketches from the Deutsche Kinemathek’s Ken Adam Archive
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Limited Edition exclusive 80-page book
  • Limited Edition exclusive double-sided poster
  • UK premiere on Blu-ray
  • Limited Edition of 6,000 copies

Buy Blu-ray:

Reviews [click links to read more]:

‘Jacques Tourneur’s direction here is on par with his best work. Night of the Demon creates a mesmerizing, disquieting world, in which every shot seems designed to constrict your breathing. You can spot a lesser horror film by the way the movie deflates in between shock moments as if the director doesn’t know what to do when there’s no big scary thing to shake in your face. Here though, Tourneur never loosens his grip.’ The Girl with the White Parasol


‘A film that survives even its most unsubtle special effects to earn its place as not only one of the great films of British vintage cinema but also a classic supernatural thriller.’ Daniel Etherington, Film4



Buy DVD:

‘You have been warned – watched in the right mood, Night of the Demon could be the scariest film you’ve ever seen. But whatever way you look at it, it’s a fantastic vindication of your love of old Brit horror.’ British Horror Films


I have always believed, and probably always will believe, that a horror movie needs to show the audience something at some point — sooner or later, you’ve got to turn the card in the hole face up. And this demon, which apparently was not supposed to have been in the movie at all, is easily one of the five coolest monsters of the entire decade...” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

Choice dialogue:

Julian Karswell: “But where does imagination end and reality begin? What is this twilight, this half world of the mind that you profess to know so much about? How can we differentiate between the powers of darkness and the powers of the mind?”


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Main cast and characters:

  • Dana Andrews … Doctor John Holden
  • Peggy Cummins … Joanna Harrington
  • Niall MacGinnis … Doctor Julian Karswell
  • Athene Seyler … Mrs Karswell
  • Liam Redmond … Professor Mark O’Brien
  • Peter Elliott … Professor Kumar
  • Maurice Denham … Professor Harrington
  • Reginald Beckwith … Mr Meek
  • Brian Wilde … Rand Hobart
  • Charles Lloyd Pack … Chemist [as Charles Lloyd-Pack]
  • Ewan Roberts … Lloyd Williamson

Filming locations:

  • Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire
  • Savoy Hotel, The Strand, London
  • Reading Room, British Museum, London
  • Brocket Hall, near Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
  • Bricket Wood railway station, between St. Albans and Watford, Hertfordshire


Offline reading:

Beating the Devil: The Making of Night of the Demon by Tony Earnshaw – National Museum of Photography, Film and Television & Tomahawk Media, UK, 2005


Buy Beating the Devil from |


Night Of The Demon (1957) - Italian DVD Poster




7 Comments on “Night of the Demon – UK, 1957 – reviews”

    1. Yeah, despite the snooty critics, he’s a damned fine demon and – after the slow creepy build-up – I feel it was right to show him. Plus, a notable early creepy clown before they became cliches!

        1. And as one of our most loyal supporters, and as thanks for the continued feedback, please feel free to suggest a movie each month we haven’t profiled yet that you’d like to see covered. This may be something we can offer to everyone via Patreon as we’re set up with them but hadn’t really thought what we can offer in return for support. It may also mean that some major movie omissions are ‘called out’ and we bow to public opinion. So, David, what’s your choice for March? (Obviously, double-check we haven’t posted already!). Cheers, Adrian

  1. This film is right up there with my favourite 50’s horrors. It’s just gives you everything you need with professional grade tension and pure supernatural horror – Its way ahead of its time in all respects. The demon is really creepy with its look lifted straight out of a medieval manuscript rather than from the prop box of “The Giant Claw” and the fortune teller scene is still scary and puts me in mind of another “ahead of its time” classic; The Changeling.

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