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The Haunted House (1906)

La maison hantée (original title)
Three friends go on a trip and decided to rest at an abandoned house. Everything seems pretty normal until really weird things start to happen.

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Three friends go on a trip and decided to rest at an abandoned house. Everything seems pretty normal until really weird things start to happen.

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Short | Comedy | Horror

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April 1906 (USA)  »

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The Haunted House  »

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1.33 : 1
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A Frontal Attack
26 July 2013 | by See all my reviews

Segundo de Chomon directed this version of Georges Melies' most imitated movie, THE BEWITCHED INN. Versions were made by every film producer in the decade after Melies' 1897 version, including several remakes by Melies.

The story is relatively simple: some travelers stop at a house or inn for the evening. Clothes vanish, chairs disappear when they try to sit down, food cooks itself and eventually the Devil -- who is responsible for this -- kicks them all out. It's a combination of stage and film illusion that is still engaging more than a century later.

De Chomon's handling here is both more realistic than Melies' -- the first scene shows our travelers tramping about a real landscape -- and much more stagebound -- the sets are not as realistic looking as Melies, the characters are stock Irish characters. The increasing disquietude and terror is punctuated by jokes, as when a bit of sausage, which has been cut off in an elaborate stop-motion sequence, attempts to escape from the plate.

By making the terrifying sections less realistic and breaking them occasionally for comedy, de Chomon was trying to disengage the audience from the events, to make the work sustainable for greater length than unrelieved terror. It was a valiant attempt to see if techniques from other arts would work in the new medium. Although it was not immediately successful, it would bear fruit in a couple of decades. The scary comedy is still a popular genre. Just ask Kennan Ivory Wayans.


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