Thursday, July 5, 2012

Casting The Runes!

I first heard about the movie Curse of the Demon (also called Night of the Demon) in Richard O'Brien's pop song "Science Fiction - Double Feature" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It is reference with these lines:

"Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes, and passing them used lots of skills"

In the pre-internet days, getting information on obscure sci-fi movies was much more difficult, and getting hold of a copy to see was sometimes even more difficult if not outright impossible. None of my friends had ever seen the British movie starring Dana Andrews, but between us we were able to identify most all the movies alluded to in the famous song. I figured out The Night of the Demon reference somehow, and then went about getting hold of every movie mentioned in that song. It was harder than you might think.

The movie's hero played by Dana Andrews, a scientist and semi-professional skeptic, pit himself against a sorcerer and cult leader who uses ancient runic spells and a paper token to call down demons to kill his opponents. The trick in the movie to save oneself is to pass the rune-ridden paper which summons the demon to another unwary victim. The movie is moody and neatly atmospheric with a dandy monster who shows up a few very effective times. I've always been especially fond of Karswell, the villain played by Niall McGinnis, is especially charming and a baddie you can really identify with in many ways.

Well yesterday, I finally read the story by M.R. James, the notable British writer which inspired the oddly effective horror/sci-fi flick. It's titled "Casting the Runes" and after another quick viewing of the movie itself, I'm mightily impressed by how much of the original story does indeed survive in the 1957 flick. Here's a link to read the story for yourself.

If you've never perhaps seen Night/Curse of the Demon, I highly recommend it.

Here's the trailer.

Rip Off


  1. One of my favourite films of all time. I first saw it in the '70s, back when the BBC used to do late-night horror double-bills on Saturday nights.

    It also gets a plug right at the start of Kate Bush's song "Hounds of Love" which can be found at the following address:

  2. Thanks for the Kate Bush tip. This movie can be downright scary in the right circumstances. I noticed on this most recent viewing the difference between Dana Andrew's character who was the hero, but very disagreeable throughout most of the movie and Niall McGinnis's villainous character who was charming most of the way through. It really is an intriguing way to present this ultimate battle.

    Rip Off


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