The Cavalier’s Dream (1898)
Article 5510 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Edwin S. Porter
What it is: Special effects short
A cavalier dreams that he is surrounded by ghostly shape-changing figures.
Here’s another movie that has been rescued from the limbo of my “ones that got away” list, and the person who pointed me in its direction made the point that it may well have the claim to being the first American horror movie, and the argument is sound. There’s really not a whole lot to it (after all, it’s less than a minute long), but it does have the sense that it’s not being played for laughs and is to be taken more or less seriously. Granted, with silent movies, the general feel may be altered by the choice of musical soundtrack, so it’s possible a light-hearted soundtrack might make a difference, but in the state I saw it (which was without music), it doesn’t feel comic, nor do the phantoms or the cavalier play for laughs. As such, it has some genuine curiosity value and is well worth watching.