The Haunted Castle (1896)

For all its bats, skeletons, cruxifex, and, well, the titular haunted castle, I think it’d be a mistake to really consider this a horror film. The skeleton appearing out of nowhere might very well be considered a jumpscare, one of the first, but seems much more a work of dazzlement and illusion overall, in keeping with the general vision of Georges Méliès.

There’s a pleasing rhythm to the cuts here, the smoke betwixt them, the fundamental magic of how it’s all presented. It really is a work of illusion, with the setting a facility for that, instead of the setting indicative of the tropes within being targeted to a genre that didn’t really exist yet. A splendid use of three minutes, at any rate. Three bats and a crucifix.

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