Night of the Demon 1957 *****


The line “It’s in the trees, it’s coming…’ was sampled by Kate Bush for her Hounds of Love album, but that’s just one of a treasure trove of cultural cross-references which spring from Jacques Tourneur’s 1957 British set thriller. An obvious influence on Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell,  Tourneur’s adaptation of MR James’s Casting The Runes sees Dana Andrews parapsychologist tussle with Satanist Karswell (Niall McGinnis), with a looming date with a fiery demon as the booby prize. Tourneur’s gift for atmosphere creates chilling scenes, whether at a children’s party or a séance, and even the much derided monster still carries a fearful frisson. Night of the Demon is a model of restraint otherwise, finding fear in a scrap of paper caught in a fireplace grate; if your idea of horror doesn’t stretch to exploding heads, Night of the Demon is the perfect chiller.


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