Disturbing And Creepy Early Cinema Vintage Clips

Quick announcement: Bill and I are having a holiday at home, so after this post I shall see you in two weeks’ time.

Before the motion picture industry solidified in the 20s, The tens and 1890s were a period of gleeful experimentation, much like the advancement of YouTube from dramatic gophers to defined communities and vloggers.

From the cinéma vérité of the Lumière Brothers, the fantastical whimsy of Georges Méliès, the glamour and fun of Alice Guy-Blaché  and the innovation of the world’s first animators, everyone had something they wanted to test. Vaudeville stars of the Belle Epoque and big events were a natural draw, but sometimes events don’t go according to plan, vaudeville acts seem alien to modern eyes and other things… are just odd.

The Balancing Bluebottle/The Acrobatic Fly (F. Percy Smith, 1910)

I honestly felt sick after watching this. It’s fascinating though and I couldn’t look away. But…yeah I still felt sick.

A fly is glued to a matchstick by the wings, it’s strength tested by placing objects onto it’s flailing legs, one of the objects being a dead fly. Yep, it spins around the corpse of it’s brethren on frantic arthropodic feet. You know that shudder Bart does in the Simpsons…

Fish (Bert Williams, 1916)

This next one isn’t creepy so much as sad. Bert Williams wrote and directed two films, unheard of for a person of colour back then. However this two reeler is very light on humour and audiences had a hard time accepting him, as a 42 year old man, playing a boy. Added to the mix are parents played by white people in black face with incredibly poor comic timing and pathos that leaves the viewer depressed.

Bert was never able to reach his full ambition, stuck as he was in ‘black’ roles often in blackface. Friend and fellow vaudevillian WC Fields said “Bert Williams was the funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew.”

On stage and in his other short he was a more subtle comedian. After the disappointment of Fish he returned to live performances.

Death jump from the Eiffel Tower, 1912

On the 4th February, 1912, Franz Reichelt was scheduled to test his homemade parachute by jumping from a great height. Nobody in the watching crowd or French and British media thought to tell him it was a bad idea and off he went, falling from the tower to his unfortunate death.

The Dancing Pig (1907)

The internet is quite familiar with a small section of this vaudeville performance, namely the titular pig gurning grotesquely at the end. The rest is pretty darn odd too, involving public humiliation and torment. All in good fun though.

The Cameraman’s Revenge (Wladislaw Starewicz, 1912)

Perhaps it’s my phobia of dead bugs (live ones I’m fine with though, no idea why) that leads me to find this film so shudder inducing. It’s a shame because this satire by the Polish, Russian and French stop motion animator is really incredible.

The cast of deceased insects perform an operatic melodrama of betrayed love and revenge in a mischievous swipe at popular theatre.

Monkeyshines 1, 2 and 3 (Thomas Edison, 1889 – 1890)

These ghosts from the past were captured during Edison’s first attempts to record image on film.

The Consequences of Feminism (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1906)

Either this film is meant to show the absurdity of men who protested against the suffragette movement or it’s an indictment of what could happen if allowed to continue. Seeing as Alice was a filmmaker herself I’d prefer to believe the former, but we just don’t know.

The Inferno ( Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan and Giuseppe de Liguoro, 1911)

This ambitious project was one of the first feature length films ever made (the first being The Kelly Gang, 1906). It’s packed with disturbing imagery from cannibalism to tortured souls and remains hauntingly fascinating to this day.

Witch Trials, Hysterical Nuns And Not Haunted Houses: Horror Nonfiction Bizarre Book Club

Good morning my little cups of fiery chai, I’ve been reading some very interesting books lately.

I’m drawn to the myths of ghosts, black magic, the Devil and other spooky things, but what I really love is clearing the fog of legend and finding what’s really underneath. To me the truth behind a haunting is infinitely more interesting than the initial stories, though I respect believers of the paranormal and would never make fun of them. Each to their own.

All three of these books take incidents or places that have been imbued with supernatural meaning and show us the ‘truth.’

1. Witchfinders by Malcolm Gaskill

The story of Matthew Hopkins, the self-titled ‘Witchfinder General,’ is quite close to my heart as I live in Essex and his numerous victims were held in a castle not far from me. Witchfinders painstakingly recounts the journey he took through Essex and Suffolk, whipping the people into a frenzy of blame and fear, and on through the trials and executions themselves.

The concept of witch-hunting in the magical sense seems alien to us now but Malcolm Gaskill does a great job of explaining the world of magic people lived in and how the uncertainty of the Civil War affected them. The thorough research helped me to better understand what might have been going through the minds of each player, even Matthew Hopkins himself.

2. Ghostland by Colin Dickey

This is a fascinating tour through the most mythologised houses, hotels, hospitals and even cities of America. Drawn to the ghosts, he strips back the stories and locates the factual accounts. If it sounds like he’s made them boring, trust me, he hasn’t.

One example is the famous Winchester Mystery House, long believed to have been created by a widow half mad with loss and guilt over the deaths of her husband and the victims of the gun he created, building endlessly to confuse any spirits seeking revenge. But, fantastically, the tale everyone including myself assumed to be fact isn’t, and this is only one of the little surprises in its pages.

This quote sums it up very well: “More than just simple urban legends and campfire tales, ghost stories reveal the contours of our anxieties, the nature of our collective fears and desires, the things we can’t talk about in any other way. The past we’re most afraid to speak aloud of in the bright light of day is the same past that tends to linger in the ghost stories we whisper in the dark.”

3. The Devils Of Loudun by Aldous Huxley

You might recognise the story of Grandier, the French priest whom women loved, men hated and burned as a witch after nuns became hysterical, from the Ken Russell film The Devils (1971). You may also recognise it’s author as the infamous psychonaut and writer of The Doors of Perception.

Where the two previous books are distantly fascinated and relatively dispassionate, Aldous Huxley’s philosophy and personality runs strongly throughout. Normally I wouldn’t like this, but he’s so well read and intelligent that it doesn’t matter.

It gives the story an air of being told by someone who knew the people personally, who smelled the horrible smells of seventeenth century France and had befriended Grandier, in spite and because of his complexities and contradictions.
Mass hysteria is a fascination of mine and anything that can go some way towards explaining it or recreating it in my mind is a definite winner.

Obsolete Oddity: Creepy Vintage Crime And Factual YouTube Channel

Good day weary popcorn snacks, I’m so close to completing a third novella/connected short story collection/thing I can almost see it in my hand.

Recently I made a post on my favourite crime/creepy info YouTube channels but was unaware of the hidden gem of Obsolete Oddity. Serial killers, creepy twins, old ladies locked in rooms for decades… if you have a spare ten minutes visit his channel and give one of his videos a watch, there’s plenty more where these came from.

The Strange Case of Emilie Sagée & her Ghostly Twin

The French Socialite Locked in her Attic for 25 Years – Blanche Monnier

The Pickled Human Flesh Seller – Karl Denke

The Booby Trapped Hoarders Mansion – The Collyer Brothers Documentary

True Unsolved Crime – The Locked Room Mystery – 1929

Bizarre Book Club: Scary Grandpa, Surreal Stories, Puppet Overlords And Sci Fi

Hello my little sugar cubes dangled over a glass of absinthe. My friend Steve and I have once again created our own writer and artist’s retreat as we have strict deadlines to get things finished, but I have still managed to read some peculiar books.

Cartoons In The Suicide Forest by Leza Cantoral

This is a bizarre and beautifully poetic book about some dark things. Leza takes inspiration from same sex Russian marriage, Jean Cocteau’s beauty and the beast, Mexican folklore and underground sex slave cults among other things and gives them an erotically feminine fairy tale twist. I enjoyed the ‘real world’ stories as much as the surreal, a good example being a relationship failing amidst heroine dependence. Pretty!

Cartoons In The Suicide Forest book trailer

Puppet Skin by Danger Slater

This fun book is a kind of YA twist on the bizarro genre. When youngsters reach a certain age they are forcibly turned into marionette puppets with strings that reach far into the sky. No one knows what’s up there, or why they have to do it, but one young girl decides to rebel just as something strange starts happening to the puppets .

I liked the way the teens actually do things teens do like smoke and skip school. In fact this could be an allegory for ‘responsible’ rebellion and why it’s necessary to look beyond your situation and not always do as you’re told.

Puppet Skin book trailer

Like Jagged Teeth by Betty Rocksteady

The story starts with immediate tension and continues throughout. A girl is walking home from a night out followed by boys when, just in time, she’s picked up by her grandfather – who’s been dead for several years. When she arrives back at his place joy turns to fear as she realises something isn’t right.

As the character lurches from room to room the story becomes progressively darker and the effect is disorientating, but it deals with shame and guilt and love and is more than mere gross out stuff.

Betty on the This Is Horror podcast Original post

Cog by K. Ceres Wright

The head of a large corporation in a futuristic world is in hospital and his son is missing, along with millions of dollars. Add to that an estranged son with questionable motives and a daughter who has to go on the run and you’ve got an enjoyable read that reminded me of classic action science fiction films. The gadgets aren’t always immediately described which can seem confusing at first, but I’d much rather that than reams of explanation.

K. Ceres Wright reading a section (NSFW)

Good day, hope you enjoy these if you decide to purchase, toodle pip!

4 Short Weird And Experimental Short Films To Make You Go All Disturbed

Merry Wednesday my little stuffed toys in a jar disguised to look like pickled conjoined goat twins. I’ve some news: my surreal, bizarro, weird fiction (and whatever else) comedy novella 4 Rooms In A Semi Detached House has been accepted by StrangeHouse Books (thanks, StrangeHouse Books!) and to celebrate here are 4 short experimental and possibly disturbing films.

The Cat With Hands was made by Robert Morgan, whose short animation Deloused featured in The ABCs of Death 2 (which I much preferred to the toilet fixated original). He makes cool and grotesque things, you should have a look. The Cat With Hands is his most famous work.

As well as being an amazing music man with his own record label, Flying Lotus has now set up Brainfeeder Films. With his own feature length production making people sick and a short by David Firth (of Salad Fingers) on the way, I’m looking forward to what else will be released.

The charmingly titled FuckkkYouuu is by Eddie Alcazar, with soundtrack by Flying Lotus.

I’m sure you all remember Alan Tutorials, the youtube channel featuring daft tutorials such as how to pick up a chair, which slowly grew more and more disturbing (but always funny). The mind behind it was Alan Resnick, digital and visual artist and filmmaker. He’s done several things for Adult Swim, including the absurdist This House Has People In It.

Written and directed by Peter Capaldi (aka Malcolm Tucker, aka Dr Who), Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life was written in 1993 for BBC Scotland and won a Bafta and Academy Award. Starring Richard E Grant (Withnail, of course, like you didn’t know), it tells the humorous story of Franz Kafka’s attempt to write The Metamorphosis despite numerous interruptions.

Enjoy!

My Top 5 Creepy, Weird Or Strange Information YouTube Channels

Good day! Funny seeing you here, I don’t remember giving you a key. No, you just make yourselves at home. Just try not to spill your drink on the sofa. I’m not calling the police, I’m…doing arm exercises…

When I’m not merrily hob-nobbing at sophisticated cocktail parties or reading the works of the finest minds (it’s true. How can you doubt me?) like most others I watch YouTube channels. My favourites are those that tell me things my little brain was otherwise unaware of and, of course, weird things. These are the best channels in my opinion that combine the two.

You’ll notice I tend to enjoy the skeptics over those who believe in the paranormal. I’d never knock those who believe, my mum is a spiritualist, but I personally enjoy looking into other theories behind spooky goings on. With that in mind, let’s plunge in!

  1. Scare Theater

I don’t know his real name, but Scare Theater creates such informative videos on such obscure subjects that he had to go first. I like his analytical mind, he tends to look for the most logical answers and he goes the extra mile in research. I can imagine him with a spooky detective series in which he’s paired up with a gullible, always getting into trouble partner.

Wpkepkw Debunked

Memory Hole Analysis

2. Rob Dyke 

I don’t always agree with Rob politically (his webs series Why Would You Put That On The Internet focuses on things that annoy him rather than information), but I’ve been a long time fan of Seriously Strange, Anatomy of a Murder and Twisted Tens. Whether it’s serial killers, weird online stories or peculiar events, his videos are professional, interesting and well researched.

10 Most Ironic Deaths in History

10 Disturbing Videos You Can Watch On YouTube

3. ReignBot

As well as looking at bizarre youtubers, videos and channels she also takes a look at grizzly websites and disturbing challenges (never showing anything horrible, mind) and analyses possible hoaxes. The information is very in depth and she favours a calm, reasonable approach.

A Rational Approach To The Marina Joyce Situation

ThatPoppy Explained

4. Cayleigh Elise

Cayleigh is a little more believing than the others (and occasionally perkier) but I find her videos very interesting, particularly the crime ones. A lot of care goes into them and she often manages to tell me things I didn’t know, even about well worn cases most have heard of. Plus her banner art and decor is really pretty.

The Case of Elisa Lam

3 Creepy Ghost Towns

5. The Homicidal Homemaker

If you need a break from all that crime and darkness, why not relax with a nice cake…of eyeballs! OK, that didn’t really work, but this channel is a lot of fun and I can’t wait to try (get Bill to try) some of these recipes.

Quick Tips From the Crypt: “Red Velvet” Rice Krispy Treats

“Dead Alive” Custard

And there we have it. Enjoy!

Trash Cinema, Weird Travel And Freaky People: Bizarre Book Club Non-Fiction Special

Merry morning my little chimpanzees in the planning stages of taking over the world. I’ve been reading lots of weird things and here they are:

Death Confetti: Pickers, Punks and Transit Ghosts in Portland, Oregan, by Jennifer Robin death-confetti-510x801

This is, no exaggeration, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I follow the author on facebook as well and, seriously, her status updates are miniature masterpieces.

Jennifer charts her non-linear journey from reclusive childhood to Portland artist with description as biting as William Burroughs and prose as rich as Anais Nin, but also completely unique. Sometimes she just remembers a character from her past, sometimes a full anecdote, sometimes she’s just looking at people on the bus, but all are beautiful. How can you not be fascinated by an intro like this:

“My directives, as established at seventeen—to experience real emotion, real contact with other people, all of the things you only learn by sucking cock, smoking rock, climbing cliffs, sleeping in catacombs, getting pregnant, and making a lot of mistakes—were fully enforced at this time. Within a year of my arrival I was playing in an electronic noise band. On and off-stage, we made—or perhaps “were”—performance art.”

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero ohm

I have genuinely never laughed so loudly and consistently at a book. If you’re unfamiliar with Tommy Wiseau’s complete mess of a film The Room, first of all where have you been, and second please watch it right now. Our fascination with it is hard to explain to people who don’t love terrible films. Example conversation with a friend:

Friend: Are you coming to Ian’s later?

Me: Yep. I’m bringing The Room

Friend: What? Not again. I’ve got Lolita at home, I’ll bring that

Me: Noooo, I can watch a good film anytime. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND MEEE!!!

And so on. Greg is the guy who played Mark (Oh, hi Mark) and he recounts the complete debacle from beginning to end including the first time he met Tommy and the events that led to his making the film. What elevates this above merely poking fun at an eccentric is the genuine level of affection – though sometimes tested – and desire to understand Tommy. He’s not a monster, he has real feelings and a desperate need to be an actor, and perhaps another reason we enjoy The Room is his sheer determination to make that happen. As Greg says, “The Room is a drama that is also a comedy that is also an existential cry for help that is finally a testament to human endurance.”

There is a film coming out, called The Masterpiece, based on this book. I, for one, will be watching it.

Everything Wrong With The Room In 8 Minutes Or Less:

Dandy in the Underworld by Sebastian Horsley dandy

“Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a peacock without a cause, I am a piece of transcendent trash – a futile blast of colour in a futile colourless world.”

If Sebastian had been born in the 1800s he would be one of those sons paid by their wealthy family to stay away. He crashes through life like a mixture of Byron and Withnail, rarely likeable but always interesting, an artist who’s biggest art piece was himself.

On a whim he goes diving with sharks, has a fling with gangster Jimmy Boyle, bets on the stock exchange and becomes horribly addicted to heroin and crack. When he has money he doesn’t respect it, when he doesn’t he’s desperate. He makes no excuses for shoplifting and generally being a louche, entitled rich boy and if he did I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed reading him as much. He died aged 47 of a suspected overdose.

(Be warned, I suspect he says things because he likes to be ‘shocking’):

A Curious Guide To London by Simon Leyland curious

Yes, yes, there’s the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square blah blah. Where are the corpses? A common cry, and one this book would like to answer.

Beneath the respectable layer of London’s past is a hidden world of information, such as the peculiar shrub in Chelsea Physic Garden that gave John Wyndham the idea for Day of the Triffids, St. Sepulchre’s watch house in Holborn (built to keep an eye out for grave diggers), the Haymarket cat opera (exactly how it sounds) or the leftover ‘snob screens’ in The Lamb pub which protected delicate wealthy eyes from the sight of the common man.

It’s separated into districts so you can have a flick through next time you go to London and see what’s about. If you’d like to see a bit more of weird London via a guide have a look at this spooky tour we embarked upon for Halloween.

Midnight Movie Madness by Ian Watson midnight-movie

A cavalcade of truly terrible films, this collection takes you from Maniac ‘director’ Dwain Esper‘s exploitation efforts, through fifties B movies to nonsensical modern day fare. Some of the descriptions made me chuckle out loud, particularly in the WTF section.

If monster movies are your thing, or perhaps overseas oddities, each film has been separated into categories ( I like categories, don’t I? I never realised that before), making it easier to dip in according to mood. Enjoy!