The Phantom Carriage's German Poster

Continuing on with our ghoulish venture into the history of haunted cinema, we head straight into the 1920s. Film had changed drastically since the last blog. No longer where films restricted to being merely a couple of minutes long, but had since become even more lavish. The US was enjoying an economic boom which helped build up the big Hollywood studios, but elsewhere budget restrictions were giving way to some of the most beautiful, artistic and jaw-droppingly awesome films, especially with the German Expressionist movement including Metropolis (1927).

German Expressionist films like Nosferatu and The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari were being celebrated like crazy. Whilst short lived, the movement’s influence can still be seen today (hello Tim Burton!) and many of these directors would be encouraged to come to Hollywood in later years and create some truly impressive masterpieces (mainly Film Noir). Following quickly on the German’s heels were the swedes. There’s more to Sweden than ABBA, meatballs and women – much more! In fact, one of the great films of the 1920s was the ghost film, The Phantom Carriage.  Directed by Victor Sjöström in 1921, The Phantom Carriage (orig. Körkarlen ) tells the terrifying tale of a hooded coachman (think ol’ Grim Reaper) who is cursed to take the souls of the dead.

Based upon a book of the same German title and recently released on DVD & Blu-ray , this film has become a classic! The legendary  Ingmar Bergman was a huge fan of this film and reportedly watched it at least every year. Take a look at this clip from the film too. Spot anything it may have influenced?

Yep, that’s right! Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining!

Besides this and the brilliant original The Cat And The Cannary (remade a few years later with the hilarious Bob Hope) and several more (!) Christmas Carol movie adaptations, ghost films of the 20s were quite quiet, which is no wonder really since the term ‘horror genre’ had yet to be defined. When Universal’s instant hit, Dracula burst onto the screens, scared eager audiences and gave birth to the Horror Film officially, it wasn’t long until ghosts joined in the spooking fun. A whole array of titles quickly followed, most of which were low budget. Included here is Supernatural, The Ghost Walks, The Ghost Goes West and several others.

Join us tomorrow for one of the greatest classic Haunted House films of all time…

Pre-order this incredible ghostly thriller here!

Break-out horror movie smash of the year that has been electrifying hardened genre fans and non-horror fans alike, “The Pact” combines the supernatural terrors of “Paranormal Activity” with the tense atmospherics of a serial killer thriller to create a unique, modern-day take on the classic ghost story.

And it’s out on October 1st! Pre-order yours here.

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On DVD & Blu-Ray 01 Oct 2012

Some horror films make their point by being endurance tests. How much gore, how much depravity, how much screaming can you take as a viewer? This is the question posed by many movies. The Pact is more of a classic ghost tale, albeit with a murderous twist. Scares are built up to and then unleashed in a seat-leaving jolt of fear. It’s a classic technique that requires a lot of carefully cultivated atmosphere to work.

Here are some of the classics

Carrie’s hand bursts from the grave

Setting a horror blueprint for the final pre-credit scare, this vaseline on the lens sequence of fever-dreaming is an idyllic scene showing a guilty friend tending a tragic grave… Until Carrie’s already rotting hands thrust from the dirt to grab the unfortunate girl, who wakes screaming from her nightmare with her sanity on the brink.

The body in the hull

As Richard Dreyfuss dives to investigate a recently submerged wreck, he’s looking for evidence of a shark attack. A handily embedded tooth, lodged in the boat provides a clue. A clue that is quickly fumbled into the depths when a mangled, chewed and bloated corpse floats into frame and the auditorium loses its popcorn en masse.

Point and scream

After surviving the pod people outbreak in the Me-generation, therapy obsessed 70s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a lone women is seen wandering, cleverly hiding among the replaced by showing no emotion of any kind. Until she sees her friend – played by Donald Sutherland. She greets him warmly… He raised a pointed finger and unleashes a scream from the depths of hell.

The boy in the lake

Stalk and slash scholars will quickly inform you that it’s not Jason doing the killings in the first of the endless Friday the 13th franchise… It’s Mrs. Voorhees that’s offing the kids. But for this movies final girl, the standard package of surviving character guilt, relief and mental instability isn’t happening. Because something supernatural is lurking in the lake. The living, drowned corpse of Jason is here to make an appearance at the very end as he suddenly arrives to drag the lucky one who made it for the last reel to a watery death.

The dead girl in the TV

Finally, do you remember when you first saw The Ring? Already unnerved by the PR hype about a cursed video… A video you were now inserting into the VCR, nothing really prepares you for the stripped down, lo-fi jolt when the long haired, bedraggled, double-jointed ghost crawls menacingly out of the television.


On DVD & Blu-Ray 01 Oct 2012

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