What a great way to end the weekend. We went to the Park Inn Hotel - Southend's iconic Palace Hotel - for an evening organised by the very busy The White Bus.
It is a very positive thing that the management of the hotel are so keen to welcome cultural events within their walls, and it is always a pleasure to pay a visit to this historical building.
We were first welcomed by The White Bus staff who informed us of the future planned screenings - a treble Christmas special, The Black Swan, the Southend film festival and the big surprise, they announced that in January 2013, they would be launching a new film festival, Horror-on-Sea. I hope this will include loads of old classics! This should be bringing quite a lot of animation to the town. Excellent news!
Writer M.R. James (one of my favourites!) was the real star of the evening. Tonight, both the short film and the main feature were based on one of his stories.
"Mr Humphries and his Inheritance", a 1975 short television adaptation of James' story of the same name, was satisfyingly atmospheric and efficient. You can read the story HERE.
Night of the Demon (1957), starring Dana Andrews, is directed by the excellent Jacques Tourneur and is therefore a feast of atmospheric scenes playing with both light and shadows - his Cat People remains one of my favourite fantastic movies.
Based on the M.R. James story, Casting the Runes, it deals with ancient beliefs, the power of the mind, devil worship and psychology.
Satisfactorily, it is not the moralising, fearmongering movie full of Christian references one could have expected, but a very intelligent, inquisitive exercise which never gives a definitive answer, much like all of M.R.James' stories. It is up to the audience to make up their minds.
On top of the great plot and genuinely disturbing events, the movie has got this wonderful charm that always infuse these older movies: something to do with elegance...
I think therefore I write.
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