T
  • Home link
  • Season 1 link
  • Season 2 link
  • Season 3 link
  • Season 4 link

Bram Stoker's Dracula title banner

By JASON COMERFORD

One of the horror genre's finest and most underseen efforts, Jacques Tourneur's 1957 film Night of the Demon (released in America in a shorter version as Curse of the Demon) is an almost perfect example of how to build genuine suspense through careful implication. As with the Val Lewton films Tourneur helmed in the 1940s (including Cat People and I Walked With A Zombie), the unseen and unknowable ultimately presents the greatest and most memorable threat. Night of the Demon walks a fine line between cold rationalism and irrational fear of things that go bump in the night, and it's an uncommonly intelligent and effective film by any standard.

The plot concerns professional skeptic Dr. John Holden (Dana Andrews), who travels to England with the intention of debunking cult leader Dr. Julian Karswell (Niall McGinnis), who may have awoken an ancient demon he can't control. Holden, at first, coolly dismisses the more outlandish claims of supernatural malfeasance, but as unexplainable events accelerate in intensity, Holden finds even his own unshakeable belief in science questioned.

The film's score was written by the prolific English composer Clifton Parker, who began writing his own music at 16 and went on to catch the attention of musical director Muir Mathieson, leading to a long career of composing music for the concert hall and the screen. Parker's jaunty music for Walt Disney's 1950 adaptation of Treasure Island remains one of his best-known efforts, but his score for Night of the Demon -- his lone foray into the supernatural genre -- is equally as memorable.

Parker had his work cut out for him before he even began scoring the film; according to the book Beating the Devil: The Making of Night of the Demon by Tony Earnshaw, British censors expressed concerns about the film's music while the script was still being written. Nonetheless, Parker responded in grand fashion, giving the film a bustling, energetic score that hums with portent and perfectly supports the increasingly intense proceedings; at one point, Andrews' character, tormented by the unexplainable, even starts humming Parker's title theme.

Sadly, Parker's thrilling music for Night of the Demon appears to be lost to the ages, but composer & musicologist Philip Lane reconstructed a suite by ear for a 1996 album for Silva Screen, Horror!, performed by the Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Kenneth Alwyn. As for the original film recording, reconstructionist John Morgan reported in 2012:

Several years ago I contacted Sony and sadly, they didn't even have a M & E track for the film. And no score or sketches or anything on paper has been discovered and we checked with the Parker family, BFI and other British holdings that may have something on the score. Everything was a negative answer. If we were to reconstruct the score from listening to the tracks, we would need something more in the clear than the music mixed with dialogue and sound effects. Perhaps something, someday will turn up. One never knows.

AUTHOR NOTE: Special thanks to Ed Dennis and Craig Spaulding of Screen Archives Entertainment for their help in acquiring this title.

What do you think?

Click here to submit a comment
for this installment.


 



The Moment in Question:

Click [here] to listen to a sample of
"Overture" from Night of the Demon,
composed by Clifton Parker.

Wojciech Kilar portrait
.....Clifton Parker
... ...
Installment Prize:

A prize will be awarded at the
end of each week through
random drawing from all
participants contributing
comments.
Week 1 Prize Information
Week 2 Prize Information

What do you think?

Click here to submit a comment
for this installment.

Night of the Demon Silva Screen Horror! album cover

.

Awesome Websites!

Score suite available through Amazon


Next Installment:

John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
have a message for you --
and you're not going to like it.
Prince of Darkness

about the author

READER COMMENTS:

Howlin' Wolf  
Congratulations to Jeff, the winner of the Week 2 drawing for 13 Chills. The Week 2 prize compliments of the great team at Screen Archives Entertainment.
     
Peloquin  
Wow I loved that sample, sometimes we forget the classics... I have not heard of this film. I truly enjoyed the piece, you know the days when, you had to use an orchestra. The are only a few labels trying to recreate that style and sound... making us remember like you have, thank you. If you haven't been to "Monstrous Movie Music", you really should. Thank you for this, I stopped over at Amazon... can someone buy me a new copy of this. "Wink"!
   
David W.  
Night of the Demon sounds great. I always loath when censors start getting their grubby hands on someone's art work. No matter the type.
   
Mike  
I really like the sound of that sample. Funny as this may sound, this music reminds me of some of the music for Batman: The Animated Series -- which would make sense since many of the episodes were done in the vein of 30's, 40's and 50's horror, sci-fi and adventure films. It's a real shame when scores like this are lost. Somebody needs to put that compilation album back in print!
     
Scott  
I have the Silva Horror! CD pictured here, so I have heard this before...but man that sample sounds good! Not at all familiar with the movie, but it is a shame that the score is lost to the ages. Another classic gone forever. Thank you for another great installment!
     
Jonathan  
I loved his Treasure Island. It is a pity, that nothing of the score of Night of the Demon seems to be left. Thank you for all those that make a big effort in releasing and preserving film scores. 
     
Jeff  
I may have heard/seen it mentioned in passing, but I have never seen Night of the Demon or heard any of the score until now. That sample suite makes me want to find it though. Good stuff. I'm not a HUGE fan of older scores; a lot of them sound too busy, or overdramatic (to me anyway, but I'm getting better at appreciating some of them) but this one seems to work. Of course, without seeing the movie, I don't know where this piece fits. If it is just some dude walking down the street, it might be a bit too busy or overdramatic too. smiley face