Horror: Méliès, Chomón, Tourneur

Le diable au convent
R: Georges Méliès. P: Star-Film. Fr 1899

“This is one of the earliest examples of a horror movie that could rely on its elaborate set design and artistic design. Everything in this film (…) has been packaged extremely well. (…)
Though nothing that is considered too extreme actually happens, Satan does have his way with a convent. The satanic imagery itself must have kept this film on the traveling carnival circuit. It certainly wouldn’t fit into the good moral bag that society shoved itself into back in those days. That would be the only vice the entire movie has.”
Brandon Siddall
Horror Movie Project

La maison ensorcelée
R: Segundo de Chomón. P: Pathé Frères. Fr 1908
Print: Nederlands Filmmuseum, Amsterdam

“While Méliès had been a performer (as a magician) and set decorator, Segundo had actually little theatrical experience but had instead been a publicist and agent married to an actress when he decided to move into films in 1901. He started out with simple ‘actualities’ but learning fast he soon picked up on the camera tricks of Méliès and set out to top them by adding in some early animation tricks and a slightly more flexible camera. As Méliès’ career declined Chomon’s career picked up and he continued to work into the 1920’s albeit mostly as a photographer and set designer on other people’s films including the Italian epic Cabiria (1914) and Abel Gance’s classic Napoleon (1927). He was working to develop colour film when he died suddenly aged only 57.”
Moondogs Ballroom
The Silver Screen Surfer

Figures de Cire
R: Maurice Tourneur. D: Henry Roussel, Emile Tramont, Henri Gouget. P: Eclair. Fr 1914

“Tourneur’s 1914 film Figures De Cire (The Wax Figures) was the first in a genre of Wax Museum films that would include Paul Leni’s legendary 1924 German Expressionist film Waxworks, 1932’s Mystery Of The Wax Museum (directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray), 1953’s House Of Wax (in 3D with Vincent Price) and the 2005’s House of Wax with Paris Hilton, not to mention any number of ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes. (…)
The film shows a far more advanced filming technique with a greater variety of shots, shorter edits and better use of lighting, although there are still no proper close-ups. The wax museum sets are spartan but creepy, especially a collection of decapitated heads starring at Pierre or another scene of Pierre cringing before robed figures (shown only from behind) who seem to be judging him. Unlike the Jekyll & Hyde films this film belongs more to the director than the actor. Henry Roussel (1875-1946) would have a long career as an actor, director and writer in France into the sound era retiring just before the Second World War.”
Moondogs Ballroom
The Silver Screen Surfer

>>>  Segundo de Chomón on this website