The Bewitched Inn (1897)
This is another of Georges Méliès‘s short trick films, and another entry in my history of horror films for October. It does deal with the supernatural, and the events do disconcert and maybe even frighten its protagonist, although the audience was most likely expected to react with laughter.
Méliès enters the stage wearing a false beard and a large pith helmet, portraying a stylized traveler in a hotel room. As he prepares for bed, each of the items he discards comes to life, moves about the room and disappears. When he tries to light a candle, first one disappears, and the other, allowing itself to be lit, explodes. He tries to sit on the chair, but it teleports across the room. When he finally removes his boots, they “walk” across the floor and disappear as the other items have. Finally, he tries to get into bed, but it disappears from under him. When it reappears, and the chair leaps on top of it, he flees the room in terror.
This is reputed to be the first film in which Méliès made inanimate objects come to life to torment their owners, which would become a common theme in his movies. As with “A Terrible Night,” it depicts a guest who is prevented from sleeping by odd events, which was supposedly a common theme in variety shows. Méliès would also repeat this idea, and it is not very different from the two movies called “The Haunted Castle” (1896 & 1897) also by Méliès. He was of course still in an early experimental stage and was trying things out at this point, some of which he would return to and build upon later. One thing I thought was interesting is the large sign which says “notice” (“Avis”) on the door: apparently hotels already posted rules in France almost 120 years ago. I had always assumed that was a recent, possibly primarily American, development.
Alternate Titles: L’auberge ensorcelée, The Bewitch Inn (possibly a typo).
Director: Georges Méliès
Cast: Georges Méliès
Run Time: 2 Min
You can watch it for free: here (no music) or here (with music).
Hilarious, as several of Georges Méliès’ experiments of this sort were.