Movies

Friday A/V Club: A Haunted-House Triple Feature for Halloween

Au Secours!, There It Is, and The Live Ghost.

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For Halloween, here's Au Secours!, a 90-year-old horror-comedy from the French filmmaker Abel Gance. It takes a few minutes for the story to get rolling, but once the chief character enters the haunted house the film becomes a flurry of gags, camera tricks, surrealist insertions, and generally goofy and/or creepy strangeness.

Next up is another silent haunted-house comedy, Charley Bowers' 1928 movie There It Is—the picture that proved an American can do surrealism as well as any Frenchman. Bowers is one of the great forgotten filmmakers of the silent era, and this is probably his funniest effort:

That version of the feature has a jazz soundtrack. Someone else has posted it to YouTube with a more electronic score; to see that version, go here.

Both Au Secours! and There It Is end with "explanations" that do not, in fact, explain everything that has happened. In the final flick of our triple feature, by contrast, the audience always knows exactly what's going on, even if the characters don't. It's set on a haunted boat instead of a haunted house, and it stars Laurel and Hardy, who in this outing are basically a couple of thugs. From 1934, here's The Live Ghost:

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)