You Weren't Supposed to See the Demon

For showtimes, click here

By all accounts, Jacques Tourneur was a great director to work with. In fact, Dana Andrews, who had collaborated with him on 1946’s Canyon Passage, took the lead in Curse of the Demon simply because he asked.

“He was so enthusiastic that I just couldn't turn him down,” Andrews said.

1. The screenwriter had a big regret.

Curse of the Demon was written by Charles Bennett, who is best remembered for scripting several of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, including The 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much. After purchasing the rights to M. R. James’ short story “Casting the Ruins,” Bennett wrote the script and sent it around. “Several well-known actors, including Robert Taylor and Dick Powell, wanted to play the lead, but no one had yet set up the deal,” said Bennett. While making The Count of Monte Cristo in England, he met producer Hal Chester and signed an agreement for him to produce. Wanting to get the film finally off the ground, Bennett agreed. Two days later though, he kicked himself when RKO offered to finance the film and allow him to direct himself. 

2. The title change came thanks to another film.

The original title given by screenwriter Charles Bennett was The Haunted. But after the success of The Curse of Frankenstein, starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, Columbia Pictures decided a more sensational name would help attract a similar audience – hence, Curse of the Demon. Bennett said, “I hated that title because it made it a B picture immediately, a title like that.”

3. There was tension on the set.

Producer Hal Chester and director Jacques Tourneur butted heads on the film’s creative aspects. In one instance, Chester wanted to only use two small fans for the big wind storm, but Tourneur was able to finally convince him to use several airplane engines. Dana Andrews remembered, “[Hal] would come up and start telling Jacques how to direct the picture.” Eventually, the star stepped in and threatened to leave if the director wasn’t allowed to do his job. Chester also exercised his power in having approximately thirteen minutes removed from the film when it was released in America. According to screenwriter Charles Bennett, Chester also cut scenes from the script to make it cheaper.

4. The demon wasn’t supposed to be seen.

Director Jacques Tourneur originally didn’t want to show the demon in the film. Taking a page from horror master Val Lewton, whom he learned from during the production of Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie, he wanted to suggest the supernatural being's presence but ultimately leave its reality up to the viewer. However, producer Hal Chester once again took the matter into his own hands and had the demon added to the film. In fact, he even had the demon’s scenes shot without the director.