Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku - DAY 05: Hellfire, Potions & Edgar Allan Poe (1911-1914)

Welcome back, Boils & Ghouls...

... to 'Day Five' of "A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku" in which I shall bring you my next batch of fright flicks from the enormous back-catalogue of macabre movies that have been thrilling cinema-goers for more than a century and can now be streamed to your television sets via the magic of Roku player - so, let's dim the lights... and prepare for more frights! :-O

If you read my special hallowe'en blogathon preview - FOUND HERE - which I published last Friday, you'll know that I plan to post one Hallowe'en / Horror related article every day, throughout the month of October, featuring one horror movie per year from cinematic history, starting in 1895 and ending in 2016. This should average out at about four films per day, so you'll have plenty of choice for your macabre movie viewing as we count down the days to Hallowe'en on October 31st! ;-)

On Saturday, to get things started, we went all the way back to the end of the 19th century for some of the earliest horror cinema footage ever recorded. The four movies in that inaugural post were from 1895 - 1898 (inclusive) and featured beheadings, vampires, skeletons and nightmarish dreams. For my second article in this month-long series of blog posts, I shared four more films (one for each year) from 1899 - 1902 (inclusive) and those featured ghostly apparitions, aliens and selenites, plus a visit from the devil to a convent. In my third post, I shared four films (again, one for each year) from 1903 - 1906 (inclusive) and those featured impish devils, demons and ghost brides, plus a man who practices entomology being pinned to a cork like an insect. For my fourth article in this series of posts, I shared four more films (one for each year) from 1907 - 1910 (inclusive) which featured evil spectres, haunted houses, plus the first filmed version of the story of Frankenstein's monster. Today, I have another four films (again, one for each year) from 1911 - 1914 (inclusive) and these are all based on classic works of literature by either Dante Alighieri, Robert Louis Stevenson or Edgar Allan Poe! As with the films shared previously in this series, bearing in mind the time period during which they were made, they are all short films that fall into the silent movie category plus some have visible signs of wear and tear but, despite this, they are all none the less watchable as further examples of early films whose influence can still be seen in far more modern movies from the horror genre...


First up today... is a 1911 feature film from Italy, directed by Giuseppe de Liguoro with Francesco Bertolini and Adolfo Padovan as co-directors, originally released under the title of "L'Inferno"... it doesn't require an expert to deduce that the "uncontrolled fire" referenced in the title was, in fact, "Dante's Inferno" - as evidenced by the U.S. release of the film - not surprising, given that it was loosely adapted from Dante Alighieri's "The Divine Comedy" and inspired by the illustrations of Gustav Doré! Astonishingly, L'Inferno took over three years to make, but is now of major importance to film historians for being the first full-length Italian feature film ever made, as well as the first to show full frontal nudity. The story begins with the poet, Dante, lost in a dark and gloomy wood. As he tries to find his way again, he sees the light of salvation over a mountain and endeavors to ascend to it. However,  his way is barred by three wild beasts, representing Avarice, Pride and Lust and, to escape his predicament, Dante is forced to journey down through the various levels of the inferno, where he meets all kind of sinners and sees the never-ending punishments they must undergo!

L'Inferno [aka Dante's Inferno] (1911) - PHOTO CREDIT:

As with a lot of these early films, we are fortunate to have copies of them in the public domain... which, for Roku users, means they are widely available on YouTube as well as other free resources for streaming online video. Feel free to watch this movie online, or use the link to cast from YouTube (via Roku player) and watch it on the big screen for maximum shock value! Either way, here it is...

YOUTUBE LINK:- L'Inferno [aka Dante's Inferno] (1911) [IMDB Rating: 6.9]

Our next film today is a horror short from the USA, which was directed by Lucius Henderson, and first released in 1912 under the original title of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" but, as you might expect, it was based on the book, "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", by Robert Louis Stevenson - first published in 1886. Nevertheless, the movie earned it's place in this cinematic history of horror, due to being the first film production of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and full credit for this achievement must go to Thanhouser Film Corporation, who beat IMP to that particular honour. If you're not familiar with the R. L. Stevenson novella, on which this horror short is based, the story is about a young physician, by the name of Dr. Henry Jekyll, who experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and (in doing so) releases a murderer from within himself!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - The Transformation [Illustration] - PHOTO CREDIT:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912) [dir. Lucius Henderson] - PHOTO CREDIT:

As with "L'Inferno" [aka Dante's Inferno] (1911), this film by Lucius Henderson is in the public domain and, therefore, widely available online as well as free-to-stream on Roku devices. For the sake of simplicity, I'm sticking with YouTube as my means of sharing this film with you. Again, please feel free to watch this movie online, or use the link to cast from YouTube (via Roku player) and watch it on the big screen, as previously suggested. Either way, here's a link for you to watch it...

 YOUTUBE LINK:- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912) [IMDB Rating: 6.0]

Our third film today is "Der Student von Prag" [aka The Student of Prague], a feature-length horror fantasy drama from director Paul Wegener, produced for Deutsche Bioscop in Germany. Released in 1913, it can be considered a loose adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's short story, "William Wilson", with more than a nod to "Faust" along the way. This movie tells the story of Balduin, a poor student that is also a charismatic and devoted "swordsman", who rescues a beautiful countess named Margit and soon becomes obsessed with her. His unrequited love for the countess and deteriorating finances leave him depressed and withdrawn, until a sorcerer makes a deal with Balduin to give him fabulous wealth and anything he wants, if he will sign his name to a contract... sound familiar? Well, if you hadn't already guessed, the student signs the contract... but has no clue as to what he's in for!

Der Student von Prag [aka The Student of Prague] (1913) - PHOTO CREDIT:

Fortunately for us, just like "L'Inferno" [aka Dante's Inferno] plus "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", this horror fantasy drama from Paul Wegener is also in the public domain and widely available online as well as free-to-stream on Roku devices. As before, I'm going to stick with YouTube for sharing this film with you. Again, please feel free to watch the movie online, or use the link to cast from YouTube (via Roku player) and watch it on the big screen, as suggested earlier.

YOUTUBE LINK:- Der Student von Prag [aka The Student of Prague] (1913) [IMDB Rating: 6.4]

Last, but by no means least, is another feature-length film... but, this time, it's from the United States and is directed by D.W. Griffith. Released in 1914, "The Avenging Conscience" is based on the short story, "The Tell-Tale Heart", and; "Annabel Lee" from "Poems of the Affections" - both written by Edgar Allan Poe. This adaptation tells the story of Henry B. Walthall who got an unfortunate start in life, when the death of his mother led to him being raised by his uncle. As a young man Henry dates a woman, by the name of Blanche Sweet, of whom his uncle does not approve. Thwarted by his despotic uncle from continuing his love affair, Henry turns to thoughts of murder. Experiencing a series of visions, he sees murder as a normal course of events and kills his uncle. Tortured by his conscience, his future sanity is uncertain as he is assailed by nightmarish visions of what he has done!

THANKS TO: Doug Sederberg for his contribution to the storyline / plot summary.

The Avenging Conscience (1914) - PHOTO CREDIT:

Anyway... you probably guessed already but, if not, this film is also in the public domain and, like the other three films in this article, is widely available online as well as free-to-stream on Roku devices. As before, I'm sticking with YouTube as my means of sharing this film with you. Again, please feel free to watch the movie online, or use the link to cast from YouTube (via Roku player) and watch it on the big screen, as suggested earlier in this post.

YOUTUBE LINK:- The Avenging Conscience: or 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' (1914) [IMDB Rating: 6.9]


Anyhow, that's all I've got time for today... but do remember to come back again tomorrow, for more macabre movies from the history of horror cinema, when I serve-up another batch of four films on 'Day Six' of "A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku" right here on this blog. Meanwhile... please be sure to visit the Countdown To Hallowe'en website and show your support for this annual online Hallowe'en extravaganza... PLUS don't forget to use the links you find there and check out all the other 'Cryptkeepers' taking part this year. I know they'll appreciate it if you visit their blogs & share your thoughts on the contribution(s) they've made.


BEFORE I GO: Don't forget that, aside from all the Hallowe'en / Horror-themed ghastliness going on around these parts for the next month, you can always keep up with all the UK Roku action (as it happens) by following the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels where you will find that up-to-the-minute info on all things Roku-related is posted on a daily basis (well, almost).

Until the next time, then...

That's all folks !!

No comments:

Post a Comment