Dir: Jacques Tourneur
Starring: Niall MacGinnis and Peggy Cummins
A reporter finds himself cursed by an occultist with the ability to summon a demon
This classic early horror is much respected today amongst followers of the genre and it has a memorable final sequence in which the occultist, played by Niall MacGinnis, has his curse thrown back at him. He leaps from a train and then gets run down by another as the demon bears down on him. A couple of ex-LMS Class 5MT ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0s were used for these scenes, one of which is No.45324. There are some very good shots of these in the film’s final moments, although a model was clearly used for one distant shot. As explained in a Yesteryear article by John Buckledee, Chairman of the Dunstable and District Local History Society, eye witness accounts maintain that the sequence showing a man running along the track in front of a train was shot at Stanbridgeford station. A friend of Charlie Caines, the engine driver who had a small part in the scene, recalls Charlie talking about the filming, which took place in 1956. Other railway staff confirm that the operational filming took place on the Leighton Buzzard to Dunstable line in the down direction from Leighton Buzzard. Pesumably the line was seeing little use by this stage which would have allowed plenty of opportunity for running a train up and down unimpeded. Prior to this final conclusion there are shots of Watford Junction station, whilst the scene at the end of Dana Andrews and Peggy Cummins on a station platform used Bricket Wood. The station signage at Watford Junction was amended to read ‘Clayham Junction’, whilst that at Stanbridgeford was amended to read ‘Leton Wood’. The film was an adaptation of the 1911 M. R. James story Casting the Runes and to accelerate the pace, the film was trimmed down to 83 minutes and retitled Curse of the Demon in the US. Thanks to Elizabeth Pynn at Historical Dunstable for the valuable insight into filming on the Stanbridgeford line.