And, of course, Happy Birthday to me! No place else I'd rather celebrate. Especially with the entire audience singing to me while Jon Marsalis played. But enough about me, let me tell you what I thought of the movies...from my perspective....me.
THE HAUNTED KITCHEN (1907): Segundo de Chomón, an early special effects master in the mold of Georges Méliès, made this amusing little film about a couple of contortionist demons who take over a kitchen and run amok.
KOKO'S HAUNTED HOUSE (1928): The Fleischer Brothers' star clown once again jumps out of the inkwell. Although this time one of the animators stretches his inkwell into a house, and when Koko and his dog Fitz run in, they run into all sorts of comical ghosts, skeletons, and the like and have scary, funny adventures.
THE FRAIDY CAT (1924): Charley Chase as his character Jimmy Jump is afraid of everything and everyone--including the local kids playing pranks. But when he learns (incorrectly) that he doesn't have long to live, he hilariously screws up his courage and takes on his tormentors. Good fun featuring my favorite overlooked silent film comedian.
And then a brief intermission, and on to our feature...
THE LAST WARNING (1929): Paul Leni's funny/scary backstage murder mystery, and much like his CAT AND THE CANARY established all the clichés for haunted house movies, this does the same for backstage murders (well, I guess Phantom of the Opera did a lot of that first, but still...) The opening scenes set the stage (pun intended) brilliantly. Famous actor John Woodford dies on stage during a performance of his play "The Snare." Chloroform poisoning seems to be the cause, murder is suspected, and the leading lady Miss Doris Terry (Laura La Plante) is the prime suspect. And then...the body mysteriously disappears before the coroner can conduct his autopsy. Flash forward five years, the theater has been closed, the cast has gone their separate ways. And now a new producer wants to open it up, putting on a new production of "The Snare" with the original cast (minus, of course, Woodford.) And soon after a phantom-like character appears to torment the cast with warnings and more. A nice mix of humor and suspense that Paul Leni was great at (too bad he died shortly after making this film) and an effective reveal at the end. Good film.
Total Running Time: 100 minutes
My Total Minutes: 407,761