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Branagh remaking more classic horror?

NightoftheDemon.jpgKenneth Branagh is keen to remake Night of the Demon, a 1957 horror film which was based on a story from M.R. James. In fact it would seem that Branagh is actively trying to get this project going, and if he's ever to return to horror then that would be the film he would make.

Now I love Branagh's Shakespearean films, and I've enjoyed many of his others, including his Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - and please note that was from the beginning, when it was getting critically hit - and I'd love to see him return to horror.

Kenneth Branagh was talking about his film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a gothic horror film which returned to the original text of Shelley's story and not the much interpreted film version. At the time critics were less than pleased with it, but as Branagh says in the few minutes he's talking to Fangoria through HorrorMovies.ca, it made money and there's now a growing audience for it.

The big surprise comes when he says that he would love to remake the 1957 film Night of the Demon, which you might recognise from the photo of the film demon, but that he would again return to the original text.

That text was Montague Rhodes James' Casting the Runes from back in 1911, one of the stories in the collection More Ghost Stories which in later years formed part of the larger collection Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com).

You can actually read the story online or download the free ebook at Project Gutenberg.

James' works have been dramatised on radio and televison, with Casting of the Runes being adapted a number of times through the years but being the only one adapted for film, The Night of the Demon. The film tells the story of a doctor travelling to a paranormal psychology symposium with the intention of exposing a famed devil cult leader as a fraud. He accepts an invitation to stay at his house and afterwards finds a parchment slipped in with his papers which may be a death curse, something he believes more in when strange events begin happening. The only way he thinks he can break the curse is to hand the parchment back to the leader and time might well be running out.

It sounds an exciting story, and while I haven't seen it or read the original text, the film is rather influential.

What I would love to see is the film Thor do really well and gain Branagh the leverage to make what he wants. Hopefully this will be one of the things he wants to pursue and we see his version of Casting of the Runes on the big screen.

As I say I really like what he did with the Frankenstein film, something you do appreciate when you look back on the original text, and this sounds as though it could be a similar film, although not treading on as many critic's toes as the first film since it is considered far less of a classic.



Night of the Demon (Curse of the Demon in the US) is one of the few old b+w horrors that I find truely affecting and very very creepy. Of course a large part of its success is the MR James source material which I adore.

The movie, however, was let down by the "monster reveal" at the end showing a ridiculous King-Kong-type beast which felt very out of place. If I remember correctly this was at the insistance of the movie studio. If Brannagh pays more respect to the James story then this could be superb.

Many of the "Ghost Story for Christmas" TV specials in the 70's were based on MR James stories and are worth checking out. "A Warning to the Curious" and "Oh Whistle and I'll come to you" are both on DVD. Another of this series is "The Signalman" (Dickens story) staring Denholm Elliot which scared the bejezsus out of me when I saw it a few years ago.

Thanks for that Dave, I knew Mr Retro would know all about this!

I've heard that there were a few studio changes in the film which really altered it from the original text, and I think Branagh would be great for returning to the original and really respecting it.

I'll definitely have a look into these, perhaps reading the free stories first.

Get under the covers.
Tourneur's spooky nior-style direction, a smart witchcraft plot, sophisticated dialogue, a show stealing erudie worlock played by Niall MacGinnis, and some nice FX (considering the era) make Night of The Demon one of the best horror films ever made.

I guess a remake is due (perhaps past due) but note to Ken B: be careful.
Yes Jame's short story (Casting The Ruins)was the impetus, but it's not the golden ticket.

Remake the MOVIE. For it is the movie that achieved critical and cult acclaim - not the short story. Like a great old house that has "good bones" this film just needs a remodeling job - don't tear down the solid foundation.
BTW Ken - feel free to remove the seance scene - a quasi-silly moment that did not work.


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