Originally Posted by rhett
I saw this on a VHS print a couple years ago, I believe it was the longer cut. Great film. I remember thinking that it was one of the few films that was effective as both an ambiguous ghost story and as a classic monster movie. Like in THE HAUNTING many of the scenes work so well because they build on the unknown, what you never see. But when the monster is revealed near the end it also works as a graphic monster movie; there are few films with a better villain than this. I haven't seen many horror films from the 50s, but this one definitely takes the cake.
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.