Archive for The Fairy of the Black Rocks

Fairy Dust

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on September 11, 2010 by dcairns

So, no sooner — literally NO sooner — than I posted my wanted ad for the ten movies still eluding me from my quest to see all the films depicted in Denis Gifford’s Pictorial History of Horror Movies, than a Shadowplayer going by the nom-de-plume of BURNTRETINA alerts me to a Segundo de Chomon movie of that title. The year isn’t quite the same, but as he says, records are unreliable for that period (early 20th century).

It so happens I’ve already gathered up many Chomon movies, but have only watched a delirious few. So I search my stock and Here’s the still from the Gifford ~

The Chomon movie begins in a whole different setting, the “black rocks” of the title, with a sort of cactus-like promontory in the centre. An elderly woman bearing a bundle enters, and meets a lazy man coming the opposite way. A heavily-pantomimed exchange seems to establish that she’d like some help with her burden, but he’s too tired. He stretches, lies down to nap, and as the transforms into a fairly queen and waves her wand, he’s beset with supernatural perils. A stream of water cascades down on him and he writhes about beneath its blast for fourteen long seconds, until we’ve gotten our money’s worth. The rocks transform into monsters and bite at him…

Finally, our hero awakens from this nightmare, only to go back to sleep again. And finds himself staggering perplexed from a crypt, in a snowy graveyard. Now this certainly resembles the setting of Gifford’s still. Both are snowy cemeteries, and the cypress trees (very Isle of the Dead) are identical. But look closer — none of the graves and crypts actually match up, and the character is differently costumed.

Then something very weird happens. There’s a jarring jump cut, and we briefly see a white-robed figure with outstretched arm. But before any detail can be ascertained, and before we can work out how this relates to the previous action (the backdrop is the same, however) we dissolve back to the Black Rocks, where the Fairy Queen appears before the penitent layabout in her Swan Carriage. The End.

Is the subliminal Figure in White one of the skeletal flashers from Gifford’s still? It seems quite likely. But why is the hero differently attired and wigged? If it’s the same character? It looks very much like a chunk is missing from the Chomon, and if so, that chunk would contain the answers. The alternative, that a second film exists, with the same title and an uncannily similar set, is actually very possible — the IMDb has a Ferdinand Zecca movie from 1902 with that title. Gifford dates his film as 1905, and the Chomon is down as 1907, making it slightly closer to Gifford… both are Pathe Freres productions, which is one reason they might resemble each other fairly closely…

For the purposes of my See Reptilicus and Die quest, I’m calling this one seen — but with attendant mysteries. Perhaps more information will emerge at a later time…

Gifford’s Most Wanted

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2010 by dcairns

Inspired by the BFI’s Most Wanted campaign to unearth 100 lost movies, I’m turning to my readers to help locate the TEN MYSTERY FILMS from Denis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies which I still haven’t tracked down.

(There are still lots I haven’t seen, but these are the only ten I haven’t been able to find copies of.)

Your help is needed! Facebook and tweet this post to all your filmy friends, and anybody who runs/works for/is an archive. I must see those movies!!!

I offer unspecified rewards. And you know those unspecified rewards are going to be pretty cool when I eventually specify them, right? Damn straight.

I’m going to write a little piece on each over the coming weeks, but here’s the Top Ten Lost Monster Movies in capsule form –

1) THE FAIRY OF THE BLACK ROCKS:  a 1905 period yarn with a skeleton flasher.

2) CASTLE SINISTER: still don’t know anything about this, except it’s Britain, 1948, produced by “British Equity”, whoever they were.

3) THE COUGHING HORROR: a 1924 melodrama that gives me a tickle in the throat just thinking about it.

4) MARIA MARTEN, OR THE MURDER IN THE RED BARN: not with Todd Slaughter, but an earlier, silent version. Another version, directed by Maurice Elvey in between these two, is considered lost, according to the BFI.

5) FIGHT WITH SLEDGE HAMMERS: likewise, a silent melodrama described as “The most thrilling film ever taken.” Taken where?

6 & 7)THE GORILLA: the 1927 version with Walter Pigeon, and the 1930 remake, again with Pigeon. Never seem to show up ANYWHERE.

8 & 9) THE TERROR: Roy Del Ruth’s silent Edgar Wallace adaptation with Edward Everett Horton and THE RETURN OF THE TERROR: Howard Bretherton’s sequel with Mary Astor.

10) THE EXPLOITS OF ELAINE: with Pearl White. I’m sure this is hard to see, but not impossible, I hope! It qualifies for Giffordom by virtue of featuring a cameo by Jekyll & Hyde.

There are also four lost films (assuming none of the above are lost). The rules of See Reptilicus And Die do not allow me to neglect movies on the mere basis of their non-existence. So I’m going to see these too!

A BLIND BARGAIN:  a lost film, this, so a more creative solution is required.

THE CAT CREEPS: 1930 version with Jean Hersholt, Lilyan Tashman, directed by Rupert “PHANTOM OF THE OPERA” Julian. I wondered about this for ages, why it never showed up. Turns out it’s lost, a fact confirmed by the fact that it’s reviewed on the IMDb by fantasy novelist and wingnut F. Gwynneplaine Macintyre, who has reviewed nearly every prominent lost fantasy film. As a situationist stunt, this wins some admiration from me, though I wonder at the ethics of writing slams of films one hasn’t seen (unless one is ninety years old).

LA PHRENOLOGIE BURLESQUE: lost Melies — I’m resolved to bring this back into existence by sheer willpower (and, if necessary, bribery).

BALAOO THE DEMON BABOON: apparently fragments of this exist in Canada. Is there any way to see them without crossing the pond? Don’t make me come over there!

How does one see lost films? In ones’ dreams, certainly, the way Fiona saw Hitchcock’s THE MOUNTAIN EAGLE on my behalf. Or by reconstructions, which allowed me to stretch a point and tick LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT off my list. Or else by seeing fragments and trailers which might be said to stand for the whole, the way an organism can be cloned from a single cell. There may be other techniques, and rest assured, I’m open to all of them!

NB: such is the speed of development in my INSANE QUEST, I already have news about several of the top ten, which I shall report to you in following posts. But for now, I’m open to all info.


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