From Page to Screen: Three Classic Black and White Horror Films

by Fingal Libraries
by Fingal Libraries on October 22, 2014 in Fingal, Libraries

As Halloween approaches, you might be thinking of settling down to watch a horror movie or read a ghost story.  There are plenty of spooky books and films to be found in the library, not least these three classic, black and white horror films adapted from novels and short stories. Night of the Demon (1957) […]

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As Halloween approaches, you might be thinking of settling down to watch a horror movie or read a ghost story. There are plenty of spooky books and films to be found in the library, not least these three classic, black and white horror films adapted from novels and short stories.

Night of the Demon (1957)

The first of these films, Night of the Demon (1957) was adapted from Casting the Runes, by the celebrated British ghost story writer M. R. James. Casting the Runes was first published in More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary in 1911. James’ stories often feature scholars on the trail of ancient manuscripts or artefacts who disturb malevolent supernatural forces. In Night of the Demon, the scholarly protagonist of the book, Mr. Dunning, is transformed into the sceptical American psychologist John Holden. Arriving in England to attend a conference on the paranormal, Holden gets drawn into an investigation of an occult group led by the mysterious Dr. Karswell. The titular demon does indeed make an appearance in the film, despite the misgivings of director Jacques Tourneur who would have preferred to suggest the presence of the monstrous creature.

Did you know? - Kate Bush’s 1985 song Hounds of Love opens with a line of dialogue from the film: “It’s in the trees, it’s coming!”

The Innocents (1961)

The Innocents (1961) is a film adaptation of the Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw. James, an American writer who spent most of his career in Britain, was a major figure in 19th century literature. Directed by Jack Clayton, the film stars Deborah Kerr as Miss Giddens, a highly-strung governess hired to look after two orphaned children in a lonely county mansion. Miss Giddens begins to suspect that the mansion and estate are haunted by the malign spirits of the children’s former governess and her lover. Lighting and sound effects create an eerie, unsettling atmosphere. Is the haunting evidence of supernatural forces or a manifestation of Miss Giddens’ imagination? Viewers must make up their own minds.

Did you know? – The cursed tape from the 2002 horror film The Ring features an audio sample from The Innocents.

Nosferatu (1922)

Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror novel, Dracula has given rise to numerous film adaptions and continues to inspire writers and film directors to this day. Nosferatu (1922) is the earliest surviving screen adaptation of Dracula. Directed by F. W. Murnau, this influential silent film is an example of German expressionist cinema. Stokers’ heirs sued the film’s makers for copyright infringement, despite changes to the names of the characters and the setting. In the film, for example, vampire becomes ‘Nosferatu’ and Count Dracula becomes ‘Count Orlok’. Nosferatu is memorable for its striking images, in particular the grotesque appearance of the vampire played by Max Schreck.

Did you know? – The title of Joe Hill’s 2013 horror novel NOS4A2 is a play on words of ‘Nosferatu’.

If you dare you can search the Fingal Library Catalogue for copies of all of the above items!

By Orla Drohan

Halloween Books