Night of the Demon is a 1957 British horror film directed by Jacques Tourneur, starring Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins and Niall MacGinnis. It is adapted from the M. R. James story ‘Casting the Runes’ (1911). The plot revolves around an American psychologist who tries to combat an evil cult leader who can sentence his enemies to death through the use of a runic scroll, given to his victims without their knowledge.
The film’s production was turbulent due to artistic differences between producer Hal E. Chester on one side and Tourneur and writer Charles Bennett on the other. Although the original plan was not to show a literal demon, producer Chester inserted a monster over the objections of the writer, the director, and lead actor Dana Andrews.
The film was released in the United Kingdom for a theatrical run in December 1957, running to its original 96-minute length, it was shown as a double bill with the American film ’20 Million Miles to Earth’. In the United States, it was released as ‘Curse of the Demon’. According to Charles Bennett, the title was changed because the studio didn’t want it confused with the similarly titled ‘The Night of the Iguana’. Columbia cut the film down to 81 minutes for the US release. ‘Curse of the Demon’ toured drive-ins and theatres variously with ‘The True Story of Lynn Stuart’ and ‘The Revenge of Frankenstein’ (1958).
Kate has said this is one of her favorite films, and it has influenced her on at least two occasions: the song Hounds of Love begins with a quote from a line spoken in the film by Maurice Denham, and somewhat more obliquely, the film The Line The Cross And The Curve borrows the idea that the possession of a small slip of paper with mystic symbols can confer great power, as well as borrowing several images and set pieces.