Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Grimalkin the cat

This week's movie rental was Night of the Demon, a 1957 British horror film that I saw once years ago on late night tv. It starred Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, and Niall MacGinnis, and was adapted from Casting the Runes by M. R. James (British medieval scholar and provost of King's College, Cambridge (1905–1918) and of Eton College (1918–1936) .... best remembered for his ghost stories).

The plot .... an American psychologist, Dr. John Holden (Andrews), comes to England to be part of a conference and to assist Professor Harrington in debunking a satanic cult and its leader, Dr. Julian Karswell (MacGinnis). Dr. Harrington is suspiciously killed before they can meet, and so Holden and Harrington's niece, Joanna Harrington (Cummins), team up to prove he was killed by Karswell. Along the way they learn about a mysterious runic parchment that, when given to an unknowing recipient, causes him to be hunted down and killed by a demon within a certain period of time. The intended victim's only recourse is to give the parchment back to the giver without his knowledge. Karswell gives a parchment to Holden, who at first scoffs at the possibility of its efficacy, but later strives to rid himself of it before it's too late.

- Joanna Harrington and John Holden

OK, the demon looks kind of silly, but overall the movie was pretty good. There is actual character development, the bad guy isn't totally made of cardboard, there isn't grisly stuff you'll wish you'd never seen, and we get to visit interesting places like the British Museum and Stonehnge :) Here are some more photos ....

- Karswell and his cat Grimalkin (who looks like Kermit :)

- Holden has been slipped a runic parchment curse

- Holden visits Stonehenge and finds that the runes on his parchment match those on one of the stones there

- Holden goes to the library at the British Museum to look up medieval works on demons

- at the last minute Holden manages to give the parchment back to Karswell as he's about to catch a train. Karswell tries to give it back again but the parchment blows away, Karswell chasing after it

- too late ... the demon approacheth ... eek!


Blogger Liam said...

I'll have to see that -- I have to admit I didn't read your whole review (to avoid spoilers), but I'm a big fan of M. R. James.

8:02 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Liam,

As long as you don't expect too much, it's fun and even a little scary. That's what intrigues me about religious horror movies, I guess - we Catholics actually do believe in demons on some level so we can't just say "it's only a movie" :)

12:36 PM  
Blogger Liam said...

Yes, and I don't know why I find that so cool.

12:45 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

All that is seen and unseen - it just is cool.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous briPod said...

great film!
named our kitten Grimalkin in honour

bonus points if you spot the Kate Bush 'Hounds of Love's sample

2:31 PM  

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