Friday, October 7, 2016

A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku - DAY 07: Vampires & Phantom Carriages (1919-1922)

Welcome back, Boils & Ghouls...

... to 'Day Seven' 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 get on with the 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 movies on day one were from 1895 - 1898 (inclusive) and featured beheadings, vampires, skeletons and nightmarish dreams. For my second article on day two of this series, I shared four 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 next post on day three, 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 on day four 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. Following that post, on day five, I shared another four films (again, one per year) from 1911 - 1914 (inclusive) and those were all based on works of literature by either Dante Alighieri, Robert Louis Stevenson or Edgar Allan Poe. Yesterday, on day six, four films were shared (one for each year) from 1915 - 1918 (inclusive) and those included one about a spooky portrait, another about the victim of a kidnapping, plus a Faustian tale told from a female perspective and another about an artificial creature produced by a mad scientist. For this post, I plan to share four more films (one per year) from 1919 - 1922 (inclusive) and these feature an epic account of the horrors of war, plus tales of vampires and phantom carriages, as well as a hypnotist who uses a somnambulist to commit murder! As with the films shared previously in this series (bearing in mind the time period during which they were made) they all fall into the silent movie category and some may 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 an epic anti-war film from France, directed by Abel Gance, that was first released in 1919 under the original title of "J'accuse!"... but it doesn't require an expert in linguistics to deduce that for British audiences it translated to, "I Accuse", which is the derivative used for the UK release. This film tells the story of two men: one married, the other the lover of the first man's wife, who meet in the trenches of the First World War. The older of the two, François Laurin (Séverin-Mars), is the one married to Edith (Maryse Dauvray)... while the younger man, Jean Diaz (Romuald Joubé) is the one with whom Edith Laurin is having an affair. As their tale unfolds... it becomes a microcosm for the horrors of war and, despite being set in the trenches of WWI, it makes a strong case for pacifism. Aside from that, this movie is also notable for having (perhaps) one of the most famous sequences in film history with what is widely referred to as "The March of the Dead" - lasting almost 20 minutes - which comes towards the end of the film. This haunting sequence becomes even more eerie when you consider that the soldiers featured in it were real soldiers, at home on leave from the front, and that many (if not most) of them lost their lives (on returning to the war) within weeks of filming this. Hardly surprising then, that this remains with the viewer long after watching... and is probably the main reason why this film is still remembered, to this day!

J'accuse! [aka I Accuse] (1919) [Movie Poster] - PHOTO CREDIT: Silent Film, Live Music

J'accuse! [aka I Accuse] (1919) [Alternative Poster] - 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. In the case of this particular film, with the overall running time being close to three hours, the version I came across on YouTube has been split into two parts... so, if you want to watch this movie in it's entirety, you will need to use both links (i.e. PART ONE, followed by PART TWO, as indicated below) and just imagine you are switching reels, between them. Feel free to watch this movie online, or use the links to cast from YouTube (via Roku player) and watch it on the big screen for maximum shock value! Either way, here it is... in two parts:-

YOUTUBE LINK: J'accuse! [aka I Accuse] (1919) - PART ONE [IMDB Rating: 7.1]

YOUTUBE LINK: J'accuse! [aka I Accuse] (1919) - PART TWO [IMDB Rating: 7.1]

Interestingly, there was a shorter remake of this film in 1938... by the same director (Abel Gance) who gave us the original 1919 version. I use the term "remake" rather loosely, however, as the latter film is significantly different from the first and could almost be considered a sequel... despite sharing the same title! Picking up the story of 'Jean Diaz', years after he served in the trenches of WWI, this film looks at his post-war immersion into scientific research to develop a machine that will prevent further wars on that scale. Believing he has succeeded, Jean's discovery is then subverted by the government, while Europe slides towards the inevitability of WWII. In desperation, Diaz summons the ghosts of the war dead from the graves and fields of France to give silent, accusing protest. The result is a watchable film, with an even clearer "anti-war" message than the earlier 1919 version. This "timely drama of momentous significance" (as per the tagline of this movie) clocks-in at a far more palatable 1hr 35mins, and you will find it has been uploaded to Dailymotion by 'ulaghchi' so, if you're curious about it, you can always use the Dailymotion channel for Roku devices to watch it. A simple search, from within the channel, should turn up the desired result(s)... but, if not, here are the two links (split into PART ONE and PART TWO, as before) that you will need to find it online:-

DAILYMOTION LINK: J'accuse! [aka I Accuse] (1938) - PART ONE [IMDB Rating: 7.2]

DAILYMOTION LINK: J'accuse! [aka I Accuse] (1938) - PART TWO [IMDB Rating: 7.2]

So, while it's the earlier (1919) version which remains the subject of this post, arguably providing more of a spectacle and being more innovative than the 1938 film of the same name, I felt this was worthy of a mention... due to it's close ties with the original. Hopefully, some of you will get to see both of them and draw your own conclusions. If you do, please feel free to leave a comment below and share your own thoughts on either one, or both, of these movies... as well as any of the others that are featured in this post, or any other post(s) from this month-long blogathon series for Hallowe'en. It's always a pleasure to hear from readers of this blog and, although I am aware of having had many visitors to these pages, the interaction is what makes it all worthwhile... so, please don't be shy! ;-)


Our next film today is a feature-length film from Germany, which was directed by Robert Wiene, and first released in 1920 under the original title of "Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari"... but, again, it doesn't require an expert in linguistics to deduce that it translates to, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", which is the derivative used for the U.S. release. This film tells the story of a somnambulist, known as Cesare, who is used by a hypnotist, called Dr. Caligari, to commit murder!

Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari (1920) - PHOTO CREDIT:

As with "J'accuse!" [aka I Accuse] (1919), this film by Robert Wiene is available online as well as free-to-stream on Roku devices. If you haven't yet seen this horror masterpiece, then you owe it to yourself to do so. Even if, like me, you have seen it (many times) it's just one of those horror classics that warrants repeated viewing... so, why not watch it (again) this Hallowe'en?! Speaking of which, I'm sticking with YouTube as my means of sharing this. As before, you can watch online, or use the link to cast from YouTube (via Roku player) and watch on the big screen. Either way, here's a link...

 YOUTUBE LINK:- Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari (1920) [IMDB Rating: 8.1]


Our third film today is Körkarlen [aka The Phantom Carriage], a feature-length horror fantasy drama from director Victor Sjöström, produced for Svensk Filmindustri in Sweden. Released in 1921, it tells the tale of three drunkards who evoke a legend one New Year's Eve... whereby the last person to die in a year, if he is a great sinner, will have to drive the Phantom Carriage (which picks up the souls of the dead) for the whole of the next year. Such was his fate that one of the three drunkards, by the name of David Holm, dies at the last stroke of midnight... and so the journey of the soul begins, as he contemplates the chain of events in life which led to him lying dead before the Phantom Carriage!

Körkarlen [aka The Phantom Carriage] (1921) - PHOTO CREDIT:

Fortunately for us, like "J'accuse!" [aka I Accuse] and "Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari", this horror fantasy drama from Victor Sjöström is also widely available online and free-to-stream on Roku devices. As before, I'm sticking with YouTube for sharing it. Again, feel free to watch this movie online, or use the link to cast from YouTube (via Roku player) and watch on the big screen.

YOUTUBE LINK:- Körkarlen [aka The Phantom Carriage] (1921)  [IMDB Rating: 8.1]


Last, but by no means least, is another feature-length film from Germany... but, this time, it's directed by F.W. Murnau. Released in 1922, "Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens" [aka Nosferatu] is a feature-length fantasy horror film based on the novel, "Dracula", by Bram Stoker. This adaptation tells the story of a vampire, known as Count Orlok, from Transylvania... who is looking to purchase an isolated house in Wisbourg, Germany. An estate agent, called Knock, dispatches his assistant (who goes by the name of Hutter) to Count Orlok's castle so that arrangements can be made to sell him the vacant property across the way from Hutter's  own home. Once at the castle, Hutter does manage to sell the Count the house... but, while Hutter is trapped in the castle, the Count, hiding in a shipment of coffins, makes his way to Wisbourg, where he takes an interest in Hutter's wife, Ellen!

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) - PHOTO CREDIT:

Anyway... you probably guessed already but, if not, this film (like the others from this article) is also available online and free-to-stream on Roku. Just like "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", if you have yet to see this "chilling psycho-drama of blood-lust" (as per the tagline of the movie) then you owe it to yourself to do so. Even if, like me, you have seen it (many times) it's another one of those horror classics that warrants repeated viewing... so, why not watch it (again) for Hallowe'en?! Speaking of which, I'm sticking with YouTube as my means of sharing. As before, you can watch online, or use the link to cast from YouTube (via Roku) and watch on the big screen. Either way, here's a link...

YOUTUBE LINK:- Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) [IMDB Rating: 8.0]


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 Eight' 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 !!

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