Archive for February 13, 2009

Pictorial History in the Making (Part 1)

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2009 by dcairns


Shadowplayers Douglas and Brandon have asked exactly which films in Denis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies remain for me to view, before I have completed my centuries long “See REPTILICUS and die” completist quest. Well, there are a LOT of pictures in that book. A complete list might exhaust all our various patiences, but I’ll start typing and see how far I get before ennui sets in ~

THE VANISHING LADY, on page 19, two stills of Georges Melies transmogrifying a nice lady into a skeleton.

UNDRESSING EXTRAORDINARY, page 20, R.W. Paul movie from 1901 with a skeleton on strings. It’s on the BFI disc so I can see this right now!

THE FAIRY OF THE BLACK ROCKS, same page, a 1910 Pathé skeleton flick. Looks nice, but appears to be a lost film, which means I don’t technically have to see it, but I can dream it.

WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST, page 23, Bert I. Gordon (AKA B.I.G.). The Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of this is on YouTube, I think. Close enough for me. (NB, It’s not, but Douglas Noble has provided an AVI.)


War of the colossal man-boobs.

EQUINOX, same page. I’ve seen most of the stop-motion scenes on YouTube, which might actually DO. But it’s easy to get, so I will, sometime.

THE GIGANTIC DEVIL, another Melies. Seen tons of G.M., but somehow almost none of the ones Gifford cites.


“Not yet Balaoo!”

BALAOO THE DEMON BABOON, 1910, France, on page 26. This is a publicity illustration so I’m not sure it counts — it’s not a still, it’s a drawing. And who knows if the movie even exists anymore? Research online reveals: “At least some footage apparently exists in Ottawa archives and at the Library of Congress.” Hmm, BALAOO is going to be tricky…

THE MERRY FROLICS OF SATAN, Melies, same page. Think I’ve maybe seen this one, or a big extract.

DR RENAULT’S SECRET on page 27. At least this one is pretty easy to get. I think.


Page 29, THE SNAKE GIRL AND THE SILVER HAIRED WITCH looks real good. Japanese film produce by Daiei, no directorial credit given. Turns out to be the guy who did most of the Gamera movies.

Page 30, still of a giant skull licking Georges Melies’s back. Doesn’t say what it’s from! If I get the Flicker Alley box set one day and just watch everything on it, I’m going to consider him DONE.

This proves to be LA PHRENOLOGIE BURLESQUE, identified with the aid of artist Dave McKean, who based a print on Gifford’s still. The movie is lost, so I have to recreate it so I can watch it.

THE VAMPIRE, a 1913 vamp film with Alice Eis, looks enticing on page 34 in a brief digression on bloodsuckers.

The James Cruze JEKYLL AND HYDE makes an appearance on 38, along with THE EXPLOITS OF ELAINE, in which Pearl White meets Dr. J. Which is a surprise. On the next page, Louis Hayward transmutes in SON OF DR JEKYLL, which sounds like a must see. Having played twins in THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, the wayward Hayward was no stranger to confusion. An IMDb reviewer from Kentucky writes, “There’s way too much talk going on in this film and this here makes it quite boring.”

Page 42, and we get Charles Ogle in FRANKENSTEIN, which I’ve never seen from start to finish. Opposite page: COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK — this one gets some very affectionate reviews.

It looks BEYOND OUTSTANDING! It’s produced by William “News on the March” Alland, which is usually a very bad thing, but Van Cleave’s solo piano score is rocking my world, and I’m both tickled and oddly satisfied that the Colossus is called “Jeremy”.

48, all three versions of THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE, the best of which must surely be the Anton Walbrook one, which is the one I haven’t seen. You can watch Veidt’s version here.


Page 50 — Julien Duvivier’s LE GOLEM is one I need to have translated by the estimable Mr. Wingrove, but I think we’re doing Duvivier’s Jesus movie first (Jean Gabin as Pilate!). On 51, THE CURSE OF THE FACELESS MAN doesn’t sound too inspiring, but it’ll have to be watched.

On 53, THE CAT CREEPS is a clunking early talkie that I’ll happily suffer through if I can get it. I love Helen Twelvetrees just because her name is Helen Twelvetrees. In THE HOUSE IN NIGHTMARE PARK, which is a CAT AND THE CANARY-inspired old-dark-house comedy thriller, camp comic Frankie Howerd plays Foster Twelvetrees, strolling tragedian…

There we go, one quarter of the way through this quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, and you can see the size of the task facing me. But THINK OF THE FUN!