LA MAISON ENSORCELEE (1908)
Article 4200 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Segundo de Chomon
Country: France / Spain
What it is: Haunted house trick film
Three travelers duck into a deserted house on a rainy night, only to have their night interrupted by weird goings-on.
This title has actually been on my hunt list for quite some time, so I was delighted to stumble across a copy of it on YouTube. Yet, I find that there’s something very familiar about this one; in particular, there’s a moment where the exterior of the house turns into a giant face that I definitely recall having seen before. At any rate, this is the sort of thing I’d expect from Chomon; half of it is very Melies-inspired, while other moments seem original with him. There’s a scene where the items on a dinner table prepare themselves that is pretty fun; a knife cuts up sausage and bread on its own, coffee pours itself, etc. There’s a demon-like figure that shows up in a painting and then manifests itself as a giant in the final scene. It’s actually a little bit on the scary side, despite the fact that the three travelers appear to be clowns… or, maybe it’s because they are clowns that it’s so scary. Yes, I can’t resist another scary clown joke.
**NOTE** At the time this was written, I thought I was watching THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1906) aka LA MAISON HANTEE, It is now apparent that I was watching a copy of LA MAISON ENSORCELEE that was mistitled, which explains why I found it very familiar; I already had a copy of that one. Thanks to doctor kiss for setting me on the right track.