31 Days of Halloween – 031: Le Manoir Du Diable (The Devil’s Chateau) (1896)

And so, here we are, and the end of the countdown. I’ll be honest, there were days this month that I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. Not that I didn’t think Halloween would come, that was going to happen no matter what, obviously, just that I wasn’t actually going to make my post-every-day goal. Of course, it’s meant back-burnrering a couple of the other regular features, but worry not, faithful readers they will be returning. (Well, for the most part, anyway There may be a few changes coming up, but more on that another time.)

hc3So, let’s wrap things up in a big way, shall we? How? By going back to the start.

Le Manoir du diable (variously known in English as The Devil’s Chateau, The Devi’s Castle, and The Haunted Castle) is only 3:16 long, but it holds a special significance in the history of cinema as it is recognized as the first horror/vampire film.

Created by silent film pioneer Georges Melies, the film, though short, is full of his trademark camera tricks, and is easily recognized as the work of a master at play, seeing exactly what he can do with his camera, and trying new tricks as he went along.

Obviously, it’s not really meant to terrify, but it does have some interesting moments, and uses its short duration to its fullest. And in many ways,, it foreshadows all of the many many vampire movies that would follow in its wake, including even those made today.

It’s a truly fascinating little film, and one that deserves to be seen and loved as much as Melies’ later and much more famous A Voyage To The Moon.

So, in honor of one of film’s great pioneers, and in celebration of All Hallows Eve, here is Le Manoir du diable:

31 Days of Halloween – 022: The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

The_Return_of_the_Living_Dead_(film)Of course, any real horror fan knows Night of the Living Dead and the subsequent follow-ups, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, etc., but it seems that fewer people know that there was actually a separate series of sequels which spawned from the breakup of  George Romero and his Night partner John Russo

The basic idea behind The Return of the Living Dead is that the original movie was only based on the real events, and was put out as part of a military cover-up of what actually happened. From there we are treated to what really amounts to a lot of cheesy 80s horror comedy that actually, if I’m honest, I really enjoy more than the more serious sequels even if it does really wear its time period on its sleeve.

So which is your favorite NOTLD sequel? Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

31 Days of Halloween – 021: The Night Strangler (1973)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

NightStranglerYesterday I wrote about one of my all-time favorite TV movies, The Night Stalker, and I mentioned the follow-up movie and the subsequent series. Today I thought I’d go ahead and share with you the Stalker’s little (and even less-seen) brother, The Night Strangler. In this film we find that Carl Kolchak (and, for some inexplicable reason, his long-suffering boss Tony Vincenzo) has moved to Seattle, but that doesn’t mean he has managed to escape the weirdness – which, of course, is good because otherwise I suppose we wouldn’t have much of a movie. Here, go ahead and take a look:

So again I’m wondering about your favorite TV movies Let me know about ones that you like either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

31 Days of Halloween – 020: The Night Stalker (1972)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

kolchak-night-stalker-adToday we go with a classic. Yeah, I know, 1972 may seem like not that long ago for a movie to be called a “classic”, but really it was over forty years ago, and I find that for many of the people that I work with and encounter, 1972 might as well be 1932 as far as their TV and movie viewing experience goes. Anyway, whatever the year, The Night Stalker has to rank up there as a classic. We’re talking about a Dan Curtis TV Movie of the Week that not only spawned a sequel, but an unfortunately short-lived TV series. Plus it stars Darren McGavin, who many will probably remember as the father from the holiday classic (there’s that word again) A Christmas Story as Carl Kolchack, a reporter investigating a string of murders in Las Vegas, who runs up against a serial killer who turns out to be more than he, or the police, are truly prepared to face.

So anyone else out there have fond memories of The Night Stalker? Or other favorite TV movies? Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

31 Days of Halloween – 019: The Tell-Tale Heart (1952)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

The Tell-Tale Heart has always been one of my favorite Poe stories, and here it is in a wonderful animation narrated by the great James Mason.

So what’s your favorite Poe story? Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

31 Days of Halloween – 018: The Ruins (2008)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

Every once in awhile, a movie sneaks up and surprises you. The Ruins was one of those movies for me. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s solid and does deserve to be seen by more people than it seems to have been. I’m not going to say much more about it, because I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises that it holds, but I will suggest that you search it out and give it a chance. I think you might like what you find.

How about you? What other underrated/overlooked gems would you suggest for Halloween viewing? Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

31 Days of Halloween – 017: Nosferat-who?

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

nos12David Kalat has posted a very interesting article over at the Movie Morlocks page at TCM. Me. Kalat is a well known author on the subject of horror and has also contributed to a number of commentaries on horror films on DVD and Blu-ray, including a commentary track that will be featured on the upcoming Masters of Cinema Blu-ray release of F.W. Murnau‘s celebrated 1922 film Nosferatu.

The article is actually an expansion of one of the ideas that he presents in the course of that commentary track: specifically that while Murnau, as director, obviously brought a lot to the making of the movie, he may be being given much more credit than he deserves in the creation and especially the look and feel of the film, and that much more of that acclaim should actually go to the man credited for art and costumes on the film, Albin Grau.

Kalat relates not only the “story behind the story” that highly influenced this version of the classic vampire tale, but presents a history of Grau that establishes his role in the film’s creation much more as what would today be credited as a “producer” instead of the “art designer” that most people think of him as – if they even think of him at all.

It’s a fascinating article and is filled with some great artwork, and is one that I would even say should be required reading for any fan of the film. The entire article can be found here.

And, just in case there is anyone who hasn’t actually seen the film, or if you simply want to watch this masterpiece again (and it really is one of those films that both deserves and rewards repeated viewings) here is a beautifully restored version:

So, in a case like this what do you think? Movies obviously are often the product of a shared vision, and it really does take more than one person to bring them to the screen. And all too often there are behind the scenes people who deserve much more credit than film history gives them. Do you know of any other stories like this? Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

31 Days of Halloween – 016: The Unknown (1927)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

PosterunknownusxLet’s use the wayback machine for today’s Halloween countdown post and trek all the way back to the silent film era for Tod Browning‘s team-up with Lon Chaney Sr. for The Unknown. This little seen film may very well rank both as Browning’s creepiest movie and his strangest (and it’s certainly in a way his saddest), and that’s saying quite a bit when you’re talking about the man who directed not only Universal’s Dracula in 1931, but also the uniquely disturbing Freaks.

By the way, I should also note that alongside Chaney, the film also features a very young (and at times rather scantily-clad)  Joan Crawford as Chaney’s assistant and love interest, a role of which she was quoted as saying “It was then I became aware for the first time of the difference between standing in front of a camera, and acting.”.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of this particular score, but it was the best option I could find.

http://vimeo.com/38196403

So, what are your favorite silent horrors? Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

31 Days of Halloween – 015: I, Madman (1989)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

Of course, as Halloween approaches, I’m always on the lookout for something new to add to the inevitable scary movie line-up for the holiday. One addition for this year, I think is going to be I, Madman from 1989, which was directed by Tibor Takács and stars Jenny Wright and Clayton Rohner.

I’m not sure exactly what it is that appeals about this trailer, but it seems to hit just enough of the right notes to make me curious to see the movie. Which, of course, is just what it’s supposed to do, right?

So what movies are you thinking about checking out for the first time this year? Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.

31 Days of Halloween – 014: Tol’able Tingler

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

Today’s feature in the countdown isn’t really a horror film in itself, but sort of a side-note. It’s a look at one of those “movie within a movie” moments.

Tol'able_David-PosterI recently had a chance to revisit the 1959 William Castle film The Tingler on the big screen thanks to a Vincent Price retrospective which is going on at our local “arthouse” theater. In the movie, Phillip Coolige plays the owner of a theater which only shows silent films. Presumably this set-up was used because it allowed Castle to take advantage of the public domain status of these films so that he wouldn’t have to pay for the rights and could have something to actually run on the screen for scenes shot in the theater. The film that he is running is noted on the marquee as being called Tol’able David, and i became intrigued as to whether this was a real movie or just something Castle created.

It turns out that Tol’able David is an actual silent from 1921, and was actually quite a hit back in its day. It was directed by Henry King, and stars Richard Barthelmess, Gladys Hulette, and Walter P. Lewis. Here’s the plot description from Wikipedia:

Young David Kinemon, son of West Virginia tenant farmers, longs to be treated like a man by his family and neighbors, especially Esther Hatburn, the pretty girl who lives with her grandfather on a nearby farm. However, he is continually reminded that he is still a boy, “tol’able” enough, but no man.

Annex - Cromwell, Richard (Tol'able David)_02He eventually gets a chance to prove himself when outlaw Iscah Hatburn and his sons Luke and “Little Buzzard,” distant cousins of the Kinemon’s Hatburn neighbors, move into the Hatburn farm, against the will of Esther and her grandfather. Esther initially tells David not to interfere, saying he’s no match for her cousins. Later, the cousins kill David’s pet dog and cripple his older brother while the latter is delivering mail and taking passengers to town in his “hack” wagon. David’s father sets out to administer vigilante justice on the Hatburn cousins (the sheriff doesn’t have the means to deal with the outlaws himself), but has a heart attack. David is determined to go after the Hatburns in his father’s place, but his mother talks him out of it, arguing that with his father dead and brother crippled, the household, including his brother’s wife and infant son, depends on him. The family is then turned out of the farm and are forced to move into a small house in town. David asks for his brother’s old job of driving the hack but is told he is too young. He does find work at the general store though. Later, when the hack’s regular driver is fired for drunkenness, David finally has a chance to drive the hack. He loses the mailbag near the Hatburn farm, where it is found by Luke. David goes to the Hatburn farm to demand the mailbag. He is refused and gets into an argument with the cousins, during which he is shot in the arm. David then shoots Iscah and the younger son and later, after a prolonged fight with the older brother (meant to recall the story of David and Goliath), emerges victorious. Esther flees for help and makes it to the village, telling that David has been killed. As a crowd prepares to go look for David, he although injured, arrives in the hack with the bag of mail. It is clear to all that David, no longer merely “tol’able,” is a real man and a hero.

Go ahead and take a look for yourself:

So, how about other “movie within a movie mpments? Any favorites?  Let me know either in the comments below, or over on the Durnmoose Movies Facebook page which can be found here.