House of the Devil (1896) by George Méliès – The first horror film

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The first horror film
While Halloween is coming up we continue looking for some arty gems of the genre and today we got the world’s first horror film. It’s not very scary and the official budget was $108. Hollywood should really consider a remake in 3D.

The Haunted Castle (French: Le Manoir du Diable which means “The Manor of the Devil”) is a 1896 three-minute-long French film by Georges Méliès and number 78-80 on the Star Films catalog. The film contained many traditional pantomime elements and was intentionally meant to amuse people, rather than frighten them. Nonetheless, it is considered by many to be the first horror film, as well as the first vampire film.

In English, this film has also been known as The Haunted Castle, The Devil’s Castle, The Devil’s Manor, The Manor of the Devil, and The House of the Devil. It was released on Christmas Eve, 1896, at the Theatre Robert Houdin, 8 boulevard des Italiens, Paris.

The World’s first horror film ever: House of the Devil (1896) by George Méliès

The film starts off with a large bat flying into a medieval castle. Once in, the bat circles slowly while flapping its monstrous wings before suddenly changing into Mephistopheles (Georges Méliès). After preparing a cauldron, the demon produces skeletons, ghosts, and witches from its bubbling contents before one of the summoned underworld cavaliers holds up a crucifix and Satan vanishes in a blast of smoke. Nice!

The World's first horror film

The Haunted Castle was released on February 16, 2010 as part of a DVD box set called “Georges Melies: Encore” by Flicker Alley.

Related stories on this blog:
- Georges Méliès’s Robinson Crusoé film resurfaces in Pordenone
- The Oldest Science Fiction Film