This week on An Alan Smithee Podcast we celebrate Halloween with the first of two all-horror episodes!
Our good movie is Night Of The Demon, released in 1957. Most film buffs will remember director Jacques Tourneur as the man behind noir classics such as Out Of The Past, most HORROR buffs will know him as one of the men behind RKO producer Val Lewton’s series of moody, subtle and atmospheric horror films of the 1940s. Tourneur directed such classic titles as Cat People and I Walked With A Zombie, which have the common feature of showing you zero to no monsters and making you use your darn imagination.
Night Of The Demon, thanks to interference by a producer who was not ashamed of making horror movies, does show you a big honkin’ demon head in the first few and final few minutes. This heightens the suspense a million times more than if we were left to wonder gee, was it really a demon or was it all in Jacques Tourneur’s head? to paraphrase the poster. Fortunately he still brings all his noir composition and photography with him, creating a rather neglected horror classic whose old fashioned-ness stood out amongst the giant grasshopper movies of the day. Compared to a big flying demon’s curse, who could believe such nonsense?
There’s also the lovely Peggy Cummins of Gun Crazy and aside from this film, nothing anyone knows.
A demon haunts our bad movie as well: A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is mildly remarkable for being the kind of bad sequel that throws out the rules and formula of the original. What’s really remarkable is how gay this movie is. An Alan Smithee Podcast does not mean this in a derogatory way. After all our first four letters are a-n-a-l. We don’t use the word “gay” to mean “stupid” – we mean this movie is such a blatant allegory for a gay teenager’s tortured internal struggle over his sexuality vis-a-vis possession by Freddy Krueger that the fact it even exists is astonishing. Just look at the poster! Do I embrace this female, or…the man in the mirror?
With the new knowledge that both the screenwriter and lead actor were gay men, we attempt to peel back the forsk-er, layers of this unintentional camp classic and decide if director Jack Sholder, too, was gay. Given that his biggest movie The Hidden is about a dude entering other dude’s bodies, the odds are on yes. There’s little other explanation for how many basket shots and men’s asses made it past final cut. Listing everything inept, and everything gay about this film is hard. Rock hard. But we try.
NEXT WEEK: THE STEPFATHER (1987, JOSEPH RUBEN) & HELLRAISER: BLOODLINES (1996, ALLEN SMITHEE(!!))