Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Never Piss Off a Satanic Cult
I actually wish this had been my first Jacques Tourneur film and not Out of the Past. Don't get me wrong, his 1947 film is a great hard boiled film noir classic, setting standards for the genre. It’s just that Jacques Tourneur was really a horror director. An auteur so to speak, working with the same producer, Val Lewton, for a number of films. I haven't seen all of them though but I eventually plan to, as from what I've seen the man knows how to make a good picture. Despite his budget restraints and the fact that he made movies in the 1940s when the industry was just entering middle age, the guy pulled off some worthy and even creepy films that have since been regarded as worthy additions to not only the horror genre but also cinema.
Anyways, Curse of the Demon is for the most part an excellent example of how Tourneur suggested horrible things without really showing them. Yes the demon does make an appearance, but this wasn't actually part of his plan and the creature isn't really featured hardly at all. This only makes it fiercer, strange, and gives it an awesome and eerie menacing quality. I love how its looks exactly like a soldier of the Devil would appear like, and it has a grand entrance that is both freaky and cool despite the obviously dated special effects.
The protagonist, played by Dana Andrews, simply fills the role of the skeptical man of knowledge who finally realizes too late that guess what: the supernatural, the ancient evil that lurks beneath the world of science and understanding will get you. And rip you're face off before chewing on your soul and then picking you're remains out of your teeth using another hapless victim. And naturally there's a devil worshipper who controls this foul creature with a method that seems both sensible and silly all at the same time.
For the most part one can take this film both seriously while also regarding it as a rather silly yet entertaining movie. The demon is pretty badass, and the use of shadows and music only add to the film's already creepy and somewhat surreal quality. For this and more, Tourneur is to be admired, to be inspire and be copied by other horror directors, as he is the shining standard of "Less is more." That doesn't always work in every horror movie, but the creators of some rather modern and recent bombastic, typically wretched horror films could learn something from the man. Grade: 81