Thursday, June 2, 2011

Film #66 The Haunted Castle (1921)

A house haunted with ghosts -- meh, that's pretty scary we guess.
But a house haunted with guilt! Now that is something to smear your shorts over!

As spooky as ghosts are, at least you can escape them by running away or calling the Ghost Hunters to take care of the situation for y...phhf, PHFFF, HAHAHAHA, we almost said that without laughing.
But with guilt, it is your memories haunting your head space. You can't run from guilt, and usually the only way to release the demons is to fess up and face the usually horrific consequences.
This lesson was learned well in this week's quiet, actually, silent tale, The Haunted Castle.

Here is where a movie synopsis would go. The RDHP would really love to bring you one, if we had any clue what the holy hell this movie was about. Oh, we watched it... and watched carefully. But between the scream inducing quality of the film print (like watching movie through cheese cloth), the half German/half English subtitles (with... sentences... that... overused... ellipses...), and the inability to tell just who was married to whom and why (people looked alike, and again, we couldn't see them anyway) we had a harder time following this plot than a redneck has following a chess match (them's some fancy checkers!).
But, here is what we could hash out between us once the credits rolled.

There is this dame Baroness Safferstat, see, and her first husband got murdered under shady circumstances. No one was ever convicted, but all eyes were on the dude's brother, Johann Oetsch, who locals put in the hot seat. Law couldn't provide it in court, so he was let free. But the people remembered!

A swanky aristocrat named Lord Vogelöd decides to host a week-long hunting party with several of his friends at his castle, and invites Baroness Safferstat and her new husband Baron Safferstatt to the fun. While the baron and baroness are on their way to the castle, suspected murder Johann Oetsch shows up to the party uninvited. When the Baroness arrives, she is mega-pissed that Oetsch is there. "I won't stay in the same house with the man who murdered my husband!" she thinks.

But after hearing that a priest from Rome, named Father Faramund, is going to arrive that night to the castle, she decides she wants to stay as she has something to tell the holy man.

Crappy weather forces the partiers to stay inside instead of hunt, but Oetsch says he doesn't mind a lil' drizzle and heads out for hunting in the rain anyway. A short time later, Father Faramund shows up for some partying, but before the Baroness can make her confession, the father is abducted out of his bed by a menacing devil hand! Since Oetsch never returned from hunting, it is assumed he must have murdered Father Faramund, probably to cover up what the Baroness was trying to confess to him -- that she saw Oetsch kill her husband!

But if the Kit Kat Club has taught us anything, it's that looks can be deceiving, and the plot thickens when Faramund shows up unharmed, and finally has that conversation with the Baroness about what went down the night of her husband's murder.

Who killed the Baronesses first husband?
Can Otesch be believed that he didn't kill the man?
Just what abducted that priest?
Why has this movie never been restored? (Answer, because it sucks!)
Find out in the dizzying 1921's silent film "The Haunted Castle."

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 0.3
Chris Dimick non-haunts:
"Spoiler Alert. I do this with your sanity in mind. In case those lingering questions above made you want whatsoever to watch this movie, I am obligated by the state of Illinois to protect you from the danger of watching this near maddening movie by way to revealing the surprise ending and burying this movie six feet under. I hate spoilers. HATE THEM. But this is for your own good.

Oetsch didn't kill Father Faramund, he IS Father Faramund. He put on a priest costume and came to the hunting party in order to get the Baroness and her new husband to confess that THEY were the ones who killed her first husband. Seems the Baroness was cheating on her first hubby with Baron Safferstat, and one day was alone in her house with her first husband's brother Oetsch and lover Safferstat (those Germans are so kinky).

She got all sexed up, and said she wanted to "see something evil, like an assassination!" Safferstat took that as a sign that she wanted her husband killed, and went and off'ed the dude. Feeling like it was her fault for the murder of her husband, the Baroness married Safferstat in order to keep him quiet about the murder... while pointing the finger at Oetsch to throw off the coppers.

So, in order to coax a confession out of Baroness and Baron Safferstat, and thereby clear his name, Oetsch dressed up like Father Faramund (who was really coming to the party, but just a few days later) and guilted the broad to sing like a canary about her crimes. He did the same to the Baron, who blew his brains out rather than go to jail. THE END. I JUST SAVED YOU PART OF A WASTED LIFE WATCHING THIS.

Now, that is a pretty interesting plot, on paper. But trust me, this didn't get executed in any intelligible way. Full disclosure, Nick and I were able to piece together most of this plot and twist conclusion on our own, but we did succumb to the sexy lure of Wikipedia to fill in our Swiss cheese understanding of the movie.

I should give this a 0.0, but first of all it gets points for trying (this world needs some compassion), and second of all the scene where Father Faramund is depicted being abducted by a demon hand was pretty cool to watch. But the only thing to watch.

Hopefully this taste of spoiled movie can be washed out of your brain with the rest of this week's project offerings. And if not, just take a long hot shower. That will wash away anything. AN I DO MEAN ANYTHING? What do I mean?"

N-Rating: 0.2
Nick Rich non-haunts:
“Off the top of my head there were two things that irked me about The Haunted Castle:
  1. The ‘castle’ wasn’t even a real castle! There was no moat infested with ravenous alligators or imposing walls that held imprisoned dissidents of the evil Lord of the castle! This made me feel cheated… but not more than my second point…
  2. There was no ‘haunting’! You heard me right! Not only do they have the audacity to set this tale in a namby-pamby castle, but you will find nary a supernatural spook lurking therein! How dare you Haunted Castle! I mean, COME ON! Normally I try not to reveal any cool bits about a film we watch, but I feel no remorse revealing the twist (if you can call it that), considering that this flick is a schim-sham-flip-spam waste of life! It played more like an episode of Dallas than a horror flick! (Phew! All of those exclamations were tiring, but needed.)
I hope my pointed observations have properly deterred any desire on your part to see this film. Historically I tend to be fairly… fair when it comes to judging a film. You don’t have to give me the moon in order to get in my good graces and, true to form, I didn’t go into this film expecting a whole lot; actually, after seeing the film transfer I had sub-level expectations. Unfortunately for anyone who comes across this DVD, the transfer looks like someone used a camcorder to record an out of focus picture projected on a dirty wall, then digitized it with an Atari 2600 and thereby rendering abnormal inorganic horizontal lines across the picture throughout most of the film.

Who knew that being able to see actors in a film would be so important? Tempted to think I’m exaggerating about the quality of the transfer? I’m not. For example: in one scene Chris and I thought a character pulled off the top half of his head (which, naturally, made us excited – yes! Finally some horror!); it turned out he was merely removing a wig, but the contrast was so poor that a full view of his head didn’t appear until he turned away from the camera. Paired with the visual feast was a muddled plot (which we literally couldn’t fully figure out and had to check out the wiki for the film after the viewing) and poorly translated subtitles that produced lines like “I will confess you!” (said the baroness to the priest; it reminded me of Arnold’s Terminator dialogue). As an added bonus, none of the characters really drew you in – the makings of a classic indeed.
I almost feel sorry for The Haunted Castle… it never really had a chance. It didn’t have a castle. Said castle wasn't haunted. The actors looked like blobs in three piece suits. Sigh. Scratch that, I don’t feel sorry for HC… I just feel sorry for me for having watched it.
The Skinny: Check this flick out if you’d like to see what a non-paranormal haunting looks like or if you’re in need of a Rorschach test.

Things We Learned from The Haunted Castle:
-Some poodles are well hung.
-Moths are the main incest pest in California.
-A movie can be too old (looking) to be enjoyed.
-1950s TVs with bad reception looked better than this movie print.
-Ghost chefs can only make ghost burgers.

Quote of the Viewing:
[Bored from the horrible movie, Nick and Chris start getting into the dramatic silent movie's music]

Chris: starts playing a hip drum beat on his desk to accompany the symphonic soundtrack
Nick: starts whistling an accompanying melody, then claps his hand in beat.
-After far too long, Nick and Chris stop their musical number at the same time without speaking, and go back to frowning at their movie screens.
Chris: "What a great movie."

RDHP Presents:
Ladies Wearing Ties?!
What? Some ladies wear ties? But... but, that type of formalwear is strictly for gentlemen! How preposterous. I mean a neckerchief on a lady, that's about as far as we will go! In the name of society! Are there no standards anymore! Ladies wearing ties!? There was one such female creature doing it in The Haunted Castle, so here we must present others so daring to wear a men's neckcover on the female gullet. But we don't like it. Not one bit! Again, are our eyes failing, or are those TIES on those LADIES! (faint)


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