Monday, October 31, 2011

A Reel Curiosities Amusement!

Created by Rex Schneider, Chris Buchman and Steve Stanchfield

If you are looking for something unique and spooky for Halloween, than this DVD comes highly reccomended. Grotesqueries is a ghoulish compilation of very vintage short subjects from the dawn of cinema through the 1930s. Many  of the films presented are rare and real delights for the dyed in the wool film fan, like myself, who has a taste for the macabre. The usual assortment of cartoons litter the compilation, including those starring Felix the Cat and Tom and Jerry(not that Tom and Jerry) and are appropiately bizarre. However, the best stuff are the real rarities like Le Spectre Rouge(1907), which has a skeleton/devil magician who keeps homunculi in a jar, like Dr. Pratorious in The Bride of Frankenstein(1935).

The DVD is divided into three parts, the first focusing on cartoons and an abridged version of The Fall of the House of Usher(1928), that very atmospheric arthouse film from the silent era. The second part takes place in a graveyard that doubles as a drive-in theater(!) where various comical previews are played(including a trailer for Maniac(1934), that is pretty funny) and an abridged live orchestral version of Lon Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera(1925), which I could only wish was full length.

The final part focuses on some lovely obscurities such as a really cool expressionist cartoon of A Night on Bald Mountain(1933) and a wonderful send-off with a section from the opera, Ruddigore, and the great spooky song, The Ghosts' High Noon, which is actually very addictive and fun to sing!
Everything on this DVD is exceptional and it's refreshing to look into the past and explore a holiday that's cornerstone was always old-fashioned fun and innocent charm. Even the special features are cute, including items from Halloween's past and humorous epitaphs on real gravestones! Unfortunately, this was an independent release and is not as widely available as it should be, though it is on Amazon, this is the kind of DVD that ought to be a seasonal perennial. What really makes the entire thing so special is that is clearly a labor of love for those involved and it makes for an excellent diversion for the curious, morbid or otherwise.

No comments:

Post a Comment