Night of the Demon



     But where does imagination end and reality begin? What is this twilight, this half world of

        the mind that you profess to know so much about? How can we differentiate between

                the powers of darkness and the powers of the mind?


In England, Professor Harrington approaches Dr. Julian Karswell, the leader of a satanic cult, promising to call off an investigation of the cult if Karswell would call off "what he has started". Karswell agrees. After learning that a parchmant given to Harrington has disintegrated, he ushers Harrington outside. As Harrington drives home, a demon materializes in front of him. Fleeing in his car, Harrington crashes into a utility pole which causes falling power lines to eloctrocute him. Dr. John Holden arrives in England to attend a convention where Harrington had intended to expose Karswell's cult. Holden is informed of Harrington's death and that the only link to it and Karswell's cult is an accused murderer Rand Hobart, who fell into a catatonic state. While Harrington's collaborators consider the possibility of supernatural forces, Holden rejects them as superstition.

Following Harrington's notes, Holden visits the British Museum's library to research books on witchcraft. Harrington finds a book missing from the library's collection and is approached by Karswell, who offers Holden to see his own copy his mansion as well as to drop his case against him. Holden repudiates Karswell's earlier attempts to dissuade him from the investigation. Attending Harrington's funeral, Holden meets Harrington's niece Joanna, who provides him with Harrington's diary revealing his increasing fear of Karswell's power. Holden remains skeptical, but goes with Joanna to Karswell's mansion the next day. Holden meets Karswell at his Mansion, on discussing the book, they engage in verbal sparring, mocking one another's respective beliefs. A very strong windstorm abruptly starts which Karswell claims to be a result of a spell of his. Holden continues to mock Karswell, who grows angry and predicts that Holden will die in three days.

At his hotel, Holden and his colleagues discuss Karswell and make plans to further examine Rand Hobart. Holden finds that several pages - those concerning the days after his predicted death - have been torn out of his calendar, paralleling Harrington's diary which also has pages missing. Harrington's diary also mentions the parchment passed to him by Karswell. Holden finds a parchment with runic inscriptions, that Karswell secretly passed to him at the library. The parchment flies from his fingers and nearly burns in the fireplace before Holden pockets it. Holden begins to feel more uneasy. After a visit to Hobart's family, who disowned Hobart as "not a true believer". As he leaves, the parchment flies from his hand again, to which Hobart's family appear afraid declaring Holden to be "chosen". Holden compares the parchment's runes to ones inscribed on the nearby stone circle at stonehenge.

Holden meets Joanna again, who takes him to meet with Karswell's mother who has arranged a seance. The medium begins to channel Harrington, who tells them that Karswell has the key to the problem from his book. Holden leaves, dismissive towards both the medium and Mrs. Karswell. That night, Holden breaks into Karswell's mansion to examine the book. He is caught by Karswell, but is permitted to leave. Holden leaves through the woods and finds himself being chased by a living ball of smoke which also creates smoking footprints. On escaping the forest, Holden finds it vanished. He reports the event to the police but feels embarrassed, believing that he is falling for only mindgames by Karswell.

While Holden prepares an experiment to break Hobart's stupor, Joanna is kidnapped from her car. Under hypnosis, Hobart explains that he was "chosen" to die by having a parchment with a curse passed to him, but avoided death by passing it back to another person, making them the target for death. As Holden shows Hobart the parchment he received from Karswell, Hobart goes beserk and leaps from a window to his death. Informed that Karswell is leaving London by train, Holden races to catch the train and finds Karswell with Joanna. Karswell avoids any contact with Holden, fearing that the parchment will be passed back to him, and grows increasingly fearful. When the train stops at the next station, Karswell tries to leave but Holden manages to sneak the parchment into Karswell's coat. As Karswell realizes this, the parchment flies from his hands. He chases it down to the tracks, where the parchment burns to ashes. As an oncoming train approaches, a demon appears above it, which grabs Karswell and slashes his body as the train passes by. The station crew find Karswell's mangled body, believing that he was struck by the train. Holden and Joanna walk away from the station, agreeing it's better not to know.










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Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Produced by Hal E. Chester
Written by Charles Bennett
Hal E. Chester
Starring Dana Andrews
Peggy Cummins
Niall MacGinnis
Athene Seyler
Music by Clifton Parker
Distributed by Columbia
Release date(s) December, 1957
Running time 95 min.
Language English