Curse/Night of the Demon

Discussion in 'Classic' started by dwatts, Apr 26, 2003.

  1. dwatts

    dwatts New Member

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    Give this a shot, as a double bill, with "Night of the Eagle". It's quite something. A lot of really great films were made in this time frame.

    Lyle: Is there something specific you didn't like, or is it the era of filmaking that doesn't appeal?

    The vision of the clown, standing on the lawn of his house as an impromptu storm kicks up, is worth the price of admission, imo.
     
  2. MaxRenn

    MaxRenn Member

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    I'm curious as to why you found this an ambiguous movie as the first few minutes
    confirm the existence of the demon.
    That is a direct contrast to similar movies like "The Haunting", "The Innocents" and "Night of The Eagle" where the ambiguity exists throughout the movie and, arguably, even after it is over. That creates a different dynamic in the viewer as we know that Dana Andrews is out of his depth and in danger throughout the movie - it is not gradually revealed. It is interesting to think how the film would be different without that first sequence. I seem to remember reading that director Tourneur did not want to show the demon in such detail (if at all).

    Tourneur was an expert at creating an atmosphere of unseen menace and deserves to be better known. If the three film he made for Val Lewton in the 40s ever get released on DVD he should start to get more recognition. I think his excellent film noir "Out of the Past" with Robert Mitchum is getting released sometime soon.
     
  3. Tuzotonic

    Tuzotonic Guest

    I know I should have probably read this thread more closely but what is the difference between Curse of the Demon and Night of the Demon? I've always assumed "Curse" was the only version of the film.
     
  4. Lyle Horowitz

    Lyle Horowitz Miscreant

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    Oh, I LOVE classic horror. That's my main forte. I also really like The Haunting, which Rhett mentioned. This just didn't grab me. The demon looked goofy, the film was TOO slow, and I just couldn't get into the film. My favorite scene is the seance, though. Very creepy. The ending is pretty good as well. I love train settings, especially in horror/suspense films. It's moving, so you can't really escape, very small, claustrophobic, and is utilized perfectly in this film as well as Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Martin (Although I believe it was a BUS in the begining, but I'm not sure), The Lady Vanishes, Strangers on a Train, among others.
     
  5. Lyle Horowitz

    Lyle Horowitz Miscreant

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    I believe Curse is the longer British cut. After watching both cuts, I really didn't notice a difference, honestly. Same with Carnival of Souls.
     
  6. dwatts

    dwatts New Member

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    Well, the britsh version is longer, and the US vrsion also shuffles some of the scenes. It's an interesting thing to see, since they move scenes by quite a few minutes, and I like BOTH versions. I'd always have guessed doing so would ruin films - but this proves it doesn't.
     
  7. marioscido

    marioscido New Member

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    I think "Night of the Demon" is among the best horror films of the 1950s and one of the best of the horror genre. I take back what I said earlier: I agree with dwatts that both versions are equally as good. They both deserve to be screened and analyzed. However, I think the shorter version may have better pacing – but I’m not sold on this, since I haven’t watched "Curse" in a while.

    MaxRenn is absolutely right about Tourneur not wanting the opening scene to play out the way it does. It appears like Hal E. Chester, the producer, annoyed lots of folks on this production, including the great writer Charles Bennett. Apparently, Chester, re-wrote the script without Bennett’s approval (the film is credited to both of them). BTW, name a great pre-WWII Hitchcock film and you’ll find Bennett attached to the project. He adapted "The 39 Steps" (1935) and wrote "Sabotage" (1936), and "Secret Agent" (1936)… and many more.

    Tourneur said this to a French magazine about the opening scene: "The scenes in which you really see the demon were shot without me. All except one. I shot the sequence in the woods where Dana Andrews is chased by this sort of cloud. This technique should have been used for the other sequences…"

    Understandably, most film critics have condemned the demon in the film. However, more recently, critics have approached the film with a little more complexity. I think the demon belongs wholeheartedly to the film and I also think the film is much better because of it. In a way, the imposition of the demon from outside of Tourneur’s own structure has rendered his play with perspective much more complex. I wonder if he was aware of this while the film was being edited – maybe not. However, notwithstanding the intentions of an artist, this film succeeds in going places it probably would never have gone if the demon had not invaded the diegetic structure of the film (that is, the created world of the film).

    "Night of the Demon" is one of the most fascinating horror films to come along in the 1950s, precisely because the presence of the demon puts the attentive viewer in the uncomfortable position of a) thinking that s/he knows that the demon exists in spite of Holden’s (Dana Andrews) skepticism, but also b) thinking that s/he knows the demon exists even though Tourneur is forever throwing scenes at the viewer that make him/her hesitate about the reality of the creature. Because of this split structure, the viewer, like Andrews, is also in a constant state of hesitation (even though the demon appears on the screen and seems to confirm its own reality).

    The film needs to be seen repeatedly to really begin to notice what Tourneur is doing with diegetic perspective and viewer perspective. I want to direct you to the scene where Holden breaks into Karswell’s house at night and slowly makes his way down the stairs. Watch that scene again and you may notice something strange with how viewer/character perspectives are being drawn out – split, if you like. What Tourneur is after here is not the kind of ambiguity found in Robert Wise’s "The Haunting," were viewer and characters experience hesitation and uncertainty – diegetically. Tourneur is after an in-between space where the diegetic reality and another reality intersect. This promotes discomfort. Many people have complained that this film is awkward and slow, but part it this discomfort comes form Tourneur’s play with perspective.

    The film becomes much more ambiguous when you begin to see the splitting of perspectives in the film. And I think the film is far more brilliantly conceived than Wise’s film, which works only on one level. What can I say: I love this film!
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2004
  8. Tuzotonic

    Tuzotonic Guest

    One of the things I really like about what I've heard about this movie is that is seems to be a straight up horror movie and not a movie about a monster who was created as the result of a nuclear bomb or war as were so many movies of the 50s. This seems to be an old fashioned scare the shit out of you horror story.
     
  9. zbinks

    zbinks Beset by Creatures of the Deep

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