Let’s Watch The Ghost of Slumber Mountain!


The_Ghost_of_Slumber_MountainHi, everyone!

So, while I was doing research for our latest post in Through The Shattered Lens Presents The Oscars, I came across a short film from 1918, The Ghost of Slumber Mountain.  

Directed by special effects pioneer Willis O’Brien (who would later do the special effects for the original King Kong), The Ghost of Slumber Mountain tells the story of an explorer and writer named Holmes (Herbert M. Dawley).  When his nephews ask him to tell them a story, Holmes tells them about the time that he explored Slumber Mountain and met the ghost a prospector named Mad Dick (played by O’Brien himself).  The ghost instructs Holmes to look through a telescope.  Upon doing so, Holmes finds himself starting into prehistoric times.  He not only sees a fight between a Tyrannosaurus and a Triceratops but then apparently gets sent though time himself as he soon finds himself being chased by the surviving dinosaur.

Now, there are a few things that I should make clear about The Ghost of Slumber Mountain.  It’s a silent film, which means that watching it requires modern audiences to adapt to a far different narrative experience than they may be used to.  As well, the film originally ran 30 minute but the current print clocks in at 19 minutes.  As a result, most of the film’s non-dinosaur plot is unknown.

With all that in mind, The Ghost of Slumber Mountain is still a fascinating and fun slice of cinematic history.  This was the first film to show live actors and stop-motion creatures together on the screen.  And while the special effects are primitive when compared to today’s CGI monsters, there’s also an undeniable charm to them.

Today, of course, we tend to take special effects for granted.  One of the great things about watching a movie like The Ghost of Slumber Mountain is that it gives you a chance to travel back to a time when special effects truly were special and unexpected.  There was once a time when film magic truly did seem to be like magic and sometimes, it’s fun to hop into a cinematic time machine and try to imagine being in that 1918 audience and being truly amazed by what we are seeing.

So, why not hop into that time machine and watch The Ghost of Slumber Mountain?

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The Fifth Annual Academy Awards: 1918


Over on Through the Shattered Lens Presents the Oscars, we are continuing to reimagine Oscar history, one year at a time! Today, we take a look at the year 1918. World War I ended, the Spanish Flu wiped out 5% of the world’s population, and the Academy embraced Tarzan of the Apes!

Through the Shattered Lens Presents The Oscars

A scene from Tarzan of The Apes A scene from Tarzan of The Apes

1918 was a year of dominated by war and pestilence.  As the world seemed to be intent on destroying itself, both the Academy and American filmgoers embraced escapism.

Overseas, the Great War continued to drag on.  With no end to the fighting in sight, there were fears that the American public would turn against the war and their elected leaders would withdraw American soldiers from the fighting.  The British government, realizing the potential of film as a propaganda tool, contacted director D.W. Griffith and offered to help him make a film.  The end result was Hearts of the World, an epic war film that starred Lillian Gish as a French girl who struggles to survive and find true love as the Germans raid her village.

Though Gish would later say that Griffith was displeased with the pro-war tone of Hearts Of The World

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A Dark Glimpse of The Witch


TheWitch

It’s been a great couple years when it comes to what the snooty cinephiles would consider as horror in cinema. Sure, we still get the slashers, zombies, found footage paranormals and even the odd cannibal exploitation, but of late we’ve also been getting some great atmospheric and truly disturbing horror of the gothic kind.

The last couple years alone we’ve gotten such great horror films as It Follows, Babadook, The Conjuring, We Are What We Are and The Sacrament to name a few. We have a film straight out of Sundance that looks to join this list.

The Witch is the first film for writer/director Robert Eggers. Working off of his own script, Eggers’ film won him the Directing Award in the Drama Category during Sundance. With critics at the festival lauding the film, The Witch was soon picked up by A24 Films for a theatrical distribution.

The Witch is set for a 2016 release.