THE HAUNTED CURIOSITY SHOP (1901)
Article 2826 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-1-2009
Posting Date: 5-9-2009
Directed by Walter R. Booth
The proprietor of a curiosity shop is startled by a visitation from a skull that changes into several different creatures.
Robert W. Paul was a producer during the very early years of cinema; he is apparently a big enough name in Britain that they released a DVD of all of his extant work. His most famous movie is probably THE ? MOTORIST, a clever special-effects film that manages to not come across as a Melies imitation, and the most famous image from that film (a car driving around on the rings of Saturn) supplies the cover picture for the DVD. He produced several other shorts with fantastic themes, some of which have been on my hunt list for some time, and which I will now be laying to rest during the next few days.
This one is very reminiscent of Melies; there’s no plot, just a series of camera tricks, some of which are quite amusing. The most striking image has a woman appearing in halves; first her top half appears, and then the bottom half walks on and takes its place under her top half. The skull also turns into a full skeleton at one point, as well as several dwarfs.