The Spook Raisers (1915)

Article 4208 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-21-2013
Directed by Chance Ward
Featuring Lloyd Hamilton, Bud Duncan, Harry Griffith
Country: USA
What it is: More slapstick shenanigans

While trying to escape from the police, two bums stumble into the home of a fake medium plying her trade. When they discover the medium’s tricks, they steal her paraphernalia and decide to go into the spiritualism racket for themselves.

Sometimes for this project, I’ll buy whole collections of shorts to get one title I’m looking for. One of the positive benefits of this is that sometimes those collections turn out to have more than one title I’m searching for. Yesterday’s movie featured a comedy team from the silent era known as Ham and Bud (Lloyd Hamilton and the diminutive Bud Duncan), and it turns out that the collection of shorts I purchased not only had HAM AND THE SAUSAGE FACTORY, but a couple of others that were on my hunt list, such as this one.

Lloyd Hamilton, though mostly forgotten nowadays, has a bit of a cult following, but most of it seems due to his work after he left this team. In these earlier shorts, he sported a huge bow-tie shaped mustache and engaged in fairly primitive slapstick antics with his team member. Even by slapstick levels of the time, the humor is pretty lowbrow; for example, in yesterday’s short, one of the big gags has Ham sticking a knife in Bud’s butt, and Bud running around in pain with the knife still protruding.

This one doesn’t sink quite as low, though I do gather from what I’ve seen of them so far, one of their common tricks is to hit people over the heads with huge mallets. The humor in the first half is mostly of the “it’s spooky and I’m scared” variety, with Ham panicking over the appearance of a ghostly Indian guide and Bud being terrified by a dancing skeleton in a closet. Yes, the fantastic content is faked, but that’s part of what drives the plot, such as it is. Probably the biggest laugh here is when Bud appears as a hyperactive ghost near the end of the short.


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