Silent Screams – The Road to Elm Street | A Nightmare (1896)

Georges Melies — our defending champion — wins spot #2 in the series as well, this time for Le Cauchemar (aka A Nightmare).

It’s not exactly Wes Craven material as the presentation is more humorous than horrific (though Freddy can be a pretty funny dude at times). However, scary movies are so deeply rooted within nightmares that this work by the cinemagician cannot be ignored. It also happens to be highly entertaining and contains excellent stop-motion substitution tricks especially innovative for the time.


Silent Screams – World’s 1st Horror Movie | The Devil’s Castle (1896)

Considered the first horror movie — and arguably the first vampire movie — Le manoir du diable (aka The Devil’s Castle) is an 1896 Georges Melies film that runs for over 3 minutes, an astonishing length for the time.

The film has been known by a variety of alternate names — The Devil’s Manor, The Manor of the Devil, The House of the Devil, and The Haunted Castle — the latter is actually a different movie by Méliès, made 1 year later on the same set and with many of the same costumes. It is also notable for containing some of the earliest hand-tinting of images.

Slapstick Summer Series: Key Stepping Stone | The Policemen’s Little Run (1907)

The first intersection of chase movies with slapstick – The Policeman’s Little Run (aka La Course des Sergents de Ville, literally “The Run of the Village Constables”), directed by Ferdinand Zecca.

Preceding the Keystone Cops by 6 years, this slapstick-chase also includes a surprising trick-film sequence for added measure. The wall-climbing effect was previously done by Georges Méliès (and later by Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman & Robin), but here its impact is amplified by the scrolling camera.


May Days of Melies – Bluebeard [Barbe-bleue] (1901)

Bluebeard (aka Barbe-bleue) by Georges Méliès, adapted from the French folktale of the same name by Charles Perrault, contains the oldest known example of product placement in a movie. Keep an eye out for Mercier champagne!

Alice Guy, 1st Female Filmmaker – How Monsieur Takes His Bath [Comment monsieur prend son bain] (1903)

Guy once again pays her respects to Georges Méliès in this homage to (read: remake of) the cinemagician’s, Going To Bed Under Difficulties. The Guy version replaces the bed with a bath tub, thus the title of this fun short film.

Alice Guy, 1st Female Filmmaker – At the Club [Au cabaret] (1899)

A slightly different look at a familiar narrative in early French cinema. The original was Louis Lumière’s Card Game (Partie de Cartes), and the 1st remake was Georges Méliès’s Card Party (Une Partie de Cartes).

Alice Guy, 1st Female Filmmaker – Disappearing Act [Scène d’escamotage] (1898)

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Alice Guy-Blaché’s Disappearing Act (aka Scène d’escamotage) is an obvious imitation of the early films of Georges Méliès, such as The Vanishing Lady. Also note that we see the same backdrop used in At the Hypnotist’s.

Alice Guy, 1st Female Filmmaker – At the Hypnotist’s [Chez le magnétiseur] (1897)

This is one of the earliest Guy-Blaché films in which we see the influence of Georges Méliès. One striking difference is the longer distance that exists between the onscreen action and the camera.

March Melies Madness! – Eight Girls in a Barrel [Le tonneau des danaïdes] (1900)

In Eight Girls in a Barrel (aka Le tonneau des danaïdes, aka The Dainaid’s Barrel) Georges Méliès has fun with 8 women. And a barrel. The original French title references a Greek myth where forty-nine of the fifty daughters of King Danaus (i.e. the Danaids) were sentenced to fill bottomless barrels with water for all eternity as a punishment.

March Melies Madness! – The Rajah’s Dream [Le rêve du radjah ou La forêt enchantée] (1900)

Georges Méliès presents The Rajah’s Dream (aka Le rêve du radjah ou La forêt enchantée aka Oh! What a Night; or, The Sultan’s Dream) and expands upon his previous one-reelers such as A Nightmare and A Terrible Night. One nice advancement of note is the use of stop-cut editing to replace the entire setting and not just a small number of items.