So, to make things even more complicated, apparently a British director, George Albert Smith, also released a movie called “The Haunted Castle” in 1897, which was more or less a remake of the original movie by Méliès. It’s apparently lost, though, so I won’t be discussing it in this post. No, instead I’m going to talk about another contender for the prize for “first British horror movie,” which is this humorous but macabre little entry. In it, a couple in Victorian dress flirts on a park bench, while a bearded fellow with a camera-shaped box marked “X-Rays” turns them both into skeletons. This does nothing to curb their ardor, however, and he eventually gives them their flesh back, at which point the lady slaps the fellow and the scene ends with him alone and forlorn. As compared to Méliès, the photography seems to be up to par, but the background scenery and costumes are somewhat lacking. Apparently the woman on the bench was Smith’s wife, which is not unusual for the in-house productions of the time, where one used the people at hand for “actors” and performers, although many production companies rapidly expanded their talent pools.
Alternate Title: “The X-Ray Fiend”
Director: George Albert Smith
Starring: Tom Green, Laura Bayley
Run Time: 44 seconds.
You can watch it for free: here.