L’Inferno (1911)

•March 11, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Dante’s devil dance

What an immense and strange beast this is. L’Inferno is apparently the first Italian feature film and is the first adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The film is beaming with startling, stunning and at times beautiful imagery; achieved by the crowd of nude actors playing the poor souls stricken to a life in hell creating a nightmarish vision of what hell would be like. These poor souls are subjected to a range of torturous happenings (which is really all the film consists of) and the audience will likely find themselves uncomfortable at the brave finesse of which the directors (Francesco Bertolini and Adolfo Padovan) managed to pull off something which could have been rendered impossible to film for its time.

The pacing of the film is what is most at fault here. The idea becomes repetitious and less exciting after 30 minutes, if only the film was half its running time.
Rating: 6/10

Reviewed as part of my History of the Terrifying challenge.

Other notable horror releases for 1911:
Baron Munchausen’s Dream
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Frankenstein (1910)

•February 28, 2013 • 1 Comment

The First EVER Frankenstein Flick

There is very little of note here besides the freaky transformation sequence (which results in a Frankenstein which seems to influence Murnau’s Nosferatu more than it does any future Frankenstein) and the interesting use of mirrors.

Only for the curious, the completest’s and those who have read the novel.
Rating: 5/10

Reviewed as part of my History of the Terrifying challenge.

Other notable horror releases for 1910:
Dorian Grays Portræt
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 
(also one of the earliest known releases of this, another tale which will be filmed hundreds of times.)

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

•January 28, 2013 • 1 Comment

Surrealism and Maya Deren

A film that perches itself both chronologically and stylistically right between Luis Buñuel’s groundbreaking Un Chien Andalou and David Lynch’s unforgettable Eraserhead, Meshes of the Afternoon is a superb think-piece of surrealism accompanied by a glorious soundtrack.

Much like its aforementioned affiliates, this film imposes extreme difficulty on the viewer if they wish to decipher its array of imagery into any kind of structured narrative. It is safe to assume that death, love and feminism (Maya Deren was as influential on feminist directors as she was on experimental directors) are present here alongside a cavalcade of other mysteries.

With it’s influence spanning everyone from Jodorowsky to Argento to Svankmajer, there is really no other way to describe the sheer transcendental beauty and significance that this film has. To save myself from fumbling with attempts to detail the narrative and imagery any further, I recommend you simply view the film for free on Youtube or even better, purchase the DVD collection of Maya Deren’s experimental films.

DO IT!

The Sealed Room (1909)

•January 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Intriguing Thriller From Master Director D.W. Griffith

Upon learning of the adulterous ways of his wife, a flamboyant king locks his lady and her musician paramour in a room, sealing their fate. This chilling idea is slowly revealed using believable cinematic techniques, though there is nothing here to suggest the groundbreaking ideas that D.W. Griffiths would bring to some of his future efforts.
Rating: 5/10

Reviewed as part of my History of the Terrifying challenge.

Other notable horror releases for 1909:
Edgar Allen Poe
A Panicky Picnic

My Top 20 Films of 2012

•December 30, 2012 • 3 Comments

20. Guilty of Romance (Dir. Shion Sono)

19. Berberian Sound Studio (Dir. Peter Strickland)

18. Woody Allen: A Documentary (Dir. Robert B. Weide)

17. Lovely Molly (Dir. Eduardo Sánchez)

16. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Dir. Sean Durkin)

15. The Innkeepers (Dir. Ti West)

14. 50/50 (Dir. Jonathan Levine)

13. The Artist (Dir. Michel Hazanavicius)

12. The Master (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

11. Le Havre (Dir. Aki Kaurismäki)

10. Beyond the Black Rainbow (Dir. Panos Cosmatos)

9. The Muppets (Dir. James Bobin)

8. Holy Motors (Dir. Leos Carax)

7. Hail (Dir. Amiel Courtin-Wilson)

6. A Separation (Dir. Asghar Farhadi)

5. The Cabin in the Woods (Dir. Drew Goddard)

4. Lore (Dir. Cate Shortland)

3. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan)

2. Shame (Dir. Steve McQueen)

1. Hugo (Dir. Martin Scorsese)

Visit http://lastpictureshowpodcast.com/2012/12/30/episode-76-top-20-films-of-2012/ to listen to me and some friends discuss our favorite films from the year.

La Légende du Fantôme (Legend of a Ghost) (1908)

•December 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Lack of narrative reveals an ache for title cards.

Legend of a Ghost is an extremely hard film to grasp as there is so much going on and with the complete lack of title cards the narrative can seem scattered and confusion. This is mind, there are plenty of visually enticing elements to keep any cinephile entertained for its 13 minutes including; two kinds of “demon car”, human frogs and lizards and an intriguing dance scene involving some bizarre pool built into the set. As difficult as this film is to grasp it is another interesting feature from Segundo de Chomón.
Rating: 4/10

Reviewed as part of my History of the Terrifying challenge.

Satan at Play (1907)

•December 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Exhausted ideas

 

Though the majority of this 9 minute short from Segundo de Chomón features little we haven’t seen before, it is his elaborately detailed set that is of particular note here. The set is multi-dimensional and clearly influenced by the works of Georges Méliès, the pieces freely move and change with grace and style.

Satan at Play also features several “scenes” (uncommon for films of this time), including a brilliant close up showing Satan pouring sand into glass bottles containing his unfortunate victims (pictured above). Also, disassembled boxes sequence toward the end of the film is highly entertaining and worth sticking it out through repetitive and familiar tricks.
Rating: 5/10

Reviewed as part of my History of the Terrifying challenge.

Other notable horror releases for 1907:
In the Bogie Man’s Cave
The Haunted Hotel

 
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