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The Red Spectre (1907)

Le spectre rouge (original title)
A demonic magician attempts to perform his act in a strange grotto, but is confronted by a Good Spirit who opposes him.
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Storyline

In a strange grotto deep in the bowels of the earth a coffin uprights itself, dances, then opens, and out steps a demonic magician with skeletal face, horns, and cape. He wraps two women (who appear to be in a trance) in fabric, levitates them, and causes them to burst into flames and disappear. As he gathers their ashes in a pitcher a Good Spirit [a young woman who resembles Peter Pan] appears, shakes her head No, and reveals the "souls" of the two women in a secret compartment deeper within the cave. The Good Spirit vanishes in a puff of smoke. The magician then produces 3 glass bottles on pillars, takes them downstage close to the camera, and reveals 3 tiny women in them; one woman beats a tambourine while the other two sway. The magician pours ashes (?) into the bottles, but the Good Spirit reappears and makes these trapped figures disappear in a flash, angering the magician, who chases her away. He makes an easel appear. There is an odd sort of screen on it bearing the Pathe ... Written by wmorrow59

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Genres:

Short | Fantasy

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Release Date:

17 August 1907 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Red Spectre  »

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(hand-tinted)|

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Has a link to the Ulli Lommel's Zodiac Killer (2005) case. A letter allegedly sent by the Zodiac Killer, who may have been a film buff, was signed "The Red Phantom" and could have referred to this film or to the color "Masque of the Red Death" sequence in Lon Chaney's 1925 The Phantom of the Opera (1925). See more »

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User Reviews

 
Stylish and inventive fantasy short
3 April 2012 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

The Red Spectre is a trick film from France in the style of Georges Méliès; although this one was directed by Ferdinand Zecca. It has all of the visual invention you would expect and it also has a nice red coloured tint which is perfect for its atmosphere.

It's set in an underground cavern and features a demon warlock. This evil character possesses souls of several women. He manipulates them in several ways and generates television-like screens. All the while he is counterbalanced by a female nemesis that thwarts his evil actions and ultimately destroys him.

It may be a short film but it's full to the brim with visual ideas. Characters appear and disappear, are shrunken and burst into flames. Walls are constructed and turn into giant monitors and rock faces move aside to show a cavern full of hell-like fires. It's relentlessly inventive basically. Worth seeing if you like the visual innovation of the earliest days of cinema.


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