Monday, October 15, 2012

Microreview [film]: Curse of the Demon

The Meat

Dana Andrews doesn't seem to get enough credit, because he was a pretty dang good actor. I don't know if it's because his first name is "Dana" or because the best and best-known film he made -- The Best Years of Our Lives -- is similarly under-appreciated, but these days he's something of a forgotten gem. So when I saw his name pop up in the credits of a horror movie, I was intrigued, and assumed I was in for a pretty quality flick. I was not mistaken.

Curse of the Demon, or Night of the Demon in its native Britain, tells the story of John Holden, an American psychologist who debunks the paranormal and is in the UK for a conference. He runs afoul of Dr. Julian Karswell, a guy who seems to run a local consortium of occultists. Karswell informs Holden that he's placed a curse on him, and that Holden will die on October 28. What makes this movie's take on a familiar basic premise is that it lays its cards on the table right at the beginning of the film. It shows us that this is a world where the occult is real, the curse is real, and there's a very real, very toothy demon that will be coming for Holden at the appointed time.

Often in these films, the audience goes on a journey of discovery with the main character, both stumbling and groping toward what may or may not be waiting up ahead. But in Curse of the Demon, we know what's in store for Holden if he doesn't buy in and figure a way out of Karswell's curse. That knowledge adds an interesting dynamic to the mix, and it's handled expertly by the filmmakers.

The Math

Objective Quality: 7/10

Bonuses: +1 for the direction by Jacques Tourneur, of Cat People, Out of the Past, and many excellent Twilight Zones; +1 the demon.

Penalties: -1 for Dr. Karswell in clown makeup

Cult Movie Coefficient: 8/10. Well worth your time and attention.

[See explanation of our non-inflated scores here.]