Saturday, 4 October 2008

Excellent Movie Reviews

Just a big shout out to Eccentric Cinema, which I link to over on the right there. Go look at it! It's got loads of reviews of classic, good, mediocre and cheesy movies, most of them horror or sci-fi, with a bit of porn thrown in (a warning in case you're very easily offended).

At the moment the webmaster has a special feature on Demons & Witches, giving an easy-to-access list of the best (and some of the worst) films. Getting a rave review is Night of the Demon, which is available on DVD in the US along with the cut-down American release Curse of the Demon. I wish it would materialise in Region 2.

I think the review makes one very valid point. It's conventional wisdom never to show a horror movie monster at the very start, yet in CotD Jacques Tourneur breaks that rule to bits. Not only do we see the monster, we get close ups at its kills poor Harrington. The argument in favour, however, is a strong one. The essence of the film is that Dana Andrews' star is a sceptical expert who (quite rightly) regards black magic as a lot of nonsense. Stories fit for for children can't really hurt anyone - but we know they can in this film! So all the business with the runes on the slip of paper, which the expert treats as  an academic puzzle, we know to be a matter of life and death. No wonder it works so well. Throw in the superb black-and-white imagery, using light and shadow to wonderful effect, and you've got a classic. 

Incidentally, in case you were wondering, the image at the top of the blog is from the movie. That's Dana Andrews vanishing down that corridor, possibly in search of a slip of paper. And here's an extract from the US cut, which is on YouTube in ten minute chunks, in which our hero gets it so badly wrong, for all the right reasons.

Kate Bush's tribute to the movie, her 'Hounds of Love' video, is still available too.


nomis said...

I do enjoy NIGHT/CURSE OF THE DEMON, but I oscillate on whether the creature ought to be shown. For such a serious movie, it's seriously goofy, and yet there's something about it that I find seriously nightmarish. Even now, thinking about it, I find it seems more like I dreamed the sequences rather than watched them. I think that's owing to the puppeteering of the creature, and the idea that black and white photography, being "unreal" to our brains (which expect colour), induces the immediate sensation that what we are watching is indeed a dream.

valdemar squelch said...

Good point. There's certainly been a lot of discussion of the movie for years (and years) among M.R. James fans, like myself. It's probably the best adaptation of one of his ghost stories, and a classic British movie in itself. The demon isn't bad, considering the era. I used to think it was a strategic error to show it at all, never mind straight away. But the 'puppet' quality does indeed add to the idea of it as a nightmare - brought about by the sleep of reason, perhaps.