Ultimate Horror Retro Review with ‘The House of The Devil’ from 1896! (31 Days of Horror Pt 1)

Sommerleigh Pollonais – Horror Head Writer

In my best Sophia from Golden Girls voice “Picture it, France, 1896.” Yes folks, I went right back to the beginning for this one. The House of the Devil is believed to be not only the first horror movie brought to the silver screen, but the first time a vampire was ever shown in a movie. The plot? With the help of a magic cauldron, Mephistopheles conjures up a variety of supernatural characters.

I watched this on YouTube and of course it’s hard to comment on the visuals because the quality has degraded over time. But I imagine the cinematography would’ve seemed impressive (small as the setting may be) as director Georges Melies would have moments of people disappearing and reappearing in different locations, Mephistopheles conjuring a demon from his cauldron and turning into a bat (which is where the vampire angle comes from), as well as witches popping up to menace the hero.

I shall drive him batty! At least I think that’s a bat

Back then all acting was pantomimed and actors weren’t even named in credits, although the actress who plays the witch was later identified as the director’s wife, Jehanne d’Alcy. What can I say, other than they mimed their little hearts out. I also thought the use of Lacrimosa by Mozart was perfect in setting the mood of the story. It’s a haunting piece of music that has popped up in many genre films over the years and, even if you don’t listen to opera, I’m positive you’ll recognise it when you hear it.

Upon initial release, audiences treated it more like a comedy (mimes will have that effect on most) but the legacy of The House of the Devil stands to this day as a movie that was technologically advanced, ambitious in its runtime (three-minute long films were unheard of back then) and eventually went on to be named the first horror movie ever. So what else is there to say but, Viva La France!

Sommer’s Score: 6.5 out of 10

You can view it for yourself here:

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2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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