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.

10 Scary (Or Funny) Short Horror Films For Halloween

The time approaches! That night where you invade someone’s house and move things around while they sleep so they wake up all confused and call the local papers and they come round and it all becomes a really famous case of haunting and you can’t admit it was you because it’s all gone too far so you have to just keep doing it.

To celebrate such a wondrous event I have searched the internet for tales of terror or humour to share with you all, because I’m like that.

I have no idea what’s going on in this UAE (United Arab Emirates) based film, but I quite liked the atmosphere. Cold Feet:

Funny and clever, this is a very entertaining five minutes. The Sleepover:

I wrote about the making of this film for a magazine and got to watch a scene being filmed (the doctor’s office). I also attended the wrap party where zombies carried trays of brightly coloured cakes. Annabelle’s Tea Party:

For an added bonus here’s a making of documentary:

There’s more than a touch of exam anxiety in this Korean tale. The Function:

This was shown as part of a series of shorts on channel 4 in the UK called Random Acts. It’s not strictly a horror but I think genre fans will definitely appreciate the humour. The Ting:

This mischievous short was based on a story called The Open Window by Saki. Read it if you haven’t yet. Certified:

The puppet masters have created another disturbing tale of kid’s songs and innards. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 5, Food:

1987 gothic short from Czech stop motion animator Jiří Bárta. The Last Theft:

I remember this Irish short from a film website in 2004 and it stuck with me. The Ten Steps: 

This Mexican film has a surprise in store. Luna:

Amazing Stop Motion Animation Films – Zealous Creative

Alrightyroo (?) I’m off to Florence in a matter of days so I shall be leaving you for a week or two. In the meantime here are a few films by award-winning husband and wife Christopher Kezelos and Christine Kezelos, otherwise known as Zealous Creative. Find them on their website or their youtube channel and have a peek at the last two videos where you can help them out with their latest project. Adieu (or rather Ciao)!

The Maker

The Maker Behind The Scenes

Zero

Allure (a little upsetting but good)

Smooshies (web series)

Kickstarter for latest project

Teaser for latest project

5 disturbing children’s films

There are plenty of boundary nudging children’s films which may not be included here, but the ones added have had a particular impact on my life. Mostly they opened my eyes to an exciting new way of storytelling that didn’t include sappy bears sitting on clouds, but very occasionally they went a little too far (in my mind anyway).

Please add your own films and experiences in the comments.

1. The King and the Mockingbird (Le Roi et l’oiseau)

For years this French animation lay dormant in my mind. All I could remember were talking statues, a lonely robot and a vague sense of unease. I somehow found it again a few years later and enjoyed it much more than I did back then.

A cross-eyed tyrant king is taken on Revolution style by an angry bird and a chimney sweep. A giant robot assists leading to mass destruction.

It’s very French and very beautiful, just please make sure you don’t find the cut version or you might beat me up.

2. Return to Oz

While not especially disturbing overall, specific scenes stand out as exciting my tiny child’s mind and probably stored for later creative use. Examples include Dorothy being taken to an institute pioneering electro-shock therapy, the apparent destruction of Oz in her absence and the heads kept behind glass cases by Oz witch Mombi:

P.S. Dorothy was played by Fairuza Balk, the goth girl from The Craft.

3. The Plague Dogs

The follow up from the company which gave us Watership Down. Despite its PG rating this is not a children’s film in any way, shape or form.

I used to love Watership Down and oddly had no issue with watching fluffy bunnies being torn apart by each other and a dog. I did, however, have a problem with watching two dogs escape from a testing lab, almost starve to death and eventually drown.

4. The Adventures of Mark Twain

In this claymation film three stowaway children travel with Mark Twain in a weird, air-balloon type ship. They encounter animated versions of Twain’s stories which are mostly harmless fluff, but the most notable in my memory is The Mysterious Stranger segment.

Bear in mind I used to watch this again and again. For some reason the pointlessness of man and the destruction it warrants didn’t seem to concern me:

5. Coraline

Included just because I love it, this stop-motion film is from a novella by Neil Gaiman. It has circus mice, a scary lady who wants to sew buttons into Coraline’s eyes and a disturbing burlesque performance from two elderly ladies. What’s not to love?