Wednesday, 26 October 2016, 7:30 pm
Commissioned by Abertoir, this collection of silent horror shorts celebrates the inventive and imaginative in early cinema with a selection of rarely seen films on the lighter side of horror and, forming the programme’s centrepiece, one of the truly dark but little known masterpieces of the avant-garde in silent cinema.
All the films will be introduced and accompanied on the piano by Paul Shallcross, presenting his own brand new scores.
Those Awful Hats
1909, USA, 3 minutes, (NR)
Director – D.W. Griffith
Possibly the earliest example of a public announcement film and from none other than the director later famous for Birth of a Nation, a film which features some very unexpected happenings in a cinema audience.
IMDb – Those Awful Hats
The Invisible Thief (Le voleur invisible)
1909, France, 5 minutes, (NR)
Director – Segundo de Chomón
The darker undertones of H. G. Wells’ story are transformed into a delightful skit on crime with Chomón’s camera techniques exploring every possibility of stop-motion and double exposure photography. This is the earliest recorded film to make use of the renowned author as source material.
IMDb – The Invisible Thief (Le voleur invisible)
An Over-Incubated Baby
1901, UK, 1 minutes, (NR)
Director – Robert W. Paul
Robert W. Paul was a pioneering engineer of movie cameras and a filmmaker with a keen eye for the fantastic and the bizarre. His films, such as this one and Undressing Extraordinary, are often cited as being some of the earliest manifestations of horror in film. A cautionary tale of what happens if you leave a baby cooking for too long…..
IMDb – An Over-Incubated Baby
The Man with a Rubber Head
1901, France, 3 minutes, (NR)
Director – Georges Méliès
The inventor of inventive cinema applies his teeming imagination to his own remarkably distensible skull.
IMDb – The Man with a Rubber Head
The Fall of the House of Usher
1928, USA, 13 minutes, (NR)
Director – James Sibley Watson & Melville Webber
This is unusual in being the work of a group of amateur filmakers with both financial and artistic clout. The use of prism photography suffuses the whole film with an eeriness and claustrophobia which lead inexorably to the truly horrific catharsis. In many ways the definitive cinematic version of the Edgar Allan Poe short story.
IMDb – The Fall of the House of Usher
There It Is
1928, USA, 22 minutes, (Unrated)
Director – Charley Bowers
One of the now almost forgotten comedians of the silent era Charley Bowers is both actor, animator and inventor in this film. A thinly veiled ghost-house story is the vehicle for some extraordinarily surreal humour, for elaborate sequences of stunning camera effects rarely if ever seen in silent comedy, and for an eye-boggling array of Heath-Robinson-like contraptions which continually thwart the efforts of the two detectives (Charley and his midget assistant) to apprehend the malevolent spirit in the Daffydil Sanatorium.
IMDb – There It Is
AUDIENCE SCORE: 95.71%
And the comments as follows
- Magical. Perfect piano. Timeless and delightful. I felt delighted, amused and entertained
- Another wonderful selection of silent era films
- Loved the piano accompaniment
- A rare treat excellently delivered. Will be back next year. Paul’s enthusiasm makes the evening
- A real treat to see the films and to hear Paul play along in just magic
- Very enjoyable. Never knew that there were such interesting early films. Excellently presented
- Brilliant as usual
- As always very entertaining, and also informative. Music is inspired. Paul is obviously very passionate about what he does
- Charming, quirky and uniquely entertaining
- The music suited the films very well. Very entertaining
- An atmospheric session of cinematic treats. Live piano music extremely effective.
- Entertaining Shallcross’s music great and his selection of knowledge of the films is rare
- Erudite, informative and entertaining introductions. Please let us have more of the genius that is Paul Shallcross
- I really enjoyed the evening. Info, films and music were fantastic. I’m going home to read some Poe
- Quirky as ever and very entertaining
- Wonderfully entertaining and well presented
- Very informative and some hilarious moments
- Wonderful glimpse at history, and the music and talk were fantastic. As a film novice and first timer at film club I was very impressed and will definitely be returning
- Both educational and entertaining. A most enjoyable evening
- Really enjoyed The Fall of the House of Usher. Inspirationally shot
- Fabulous. Great music, entertaining presentation, educational and interesting and fun.
The audience gave the Minima presentation of the 1925 ‘Phantom of the Opera‘ a score of 94%
Here are their comments:
- Music made the film.
- Excellent music suited to the themes, however could perhaps have had a lighter approach to the more comedic scenes.
- Minima’s music was excellent, though not always suited to the themes of the work. Audio quality suffered, something was rattling in the deepest bass in a very distracting fashion. For older works an accompanying info sheet would be helpful.
- An interesting combination of instruments – hypnotic minimalism! What a pity that the level of volume was such that it was distorted and hit resonance with the floor, the furniture and my rib cage. A few decibels less would have enhanced the film instead of competing with it. An excellent attempt chaps; but far too loud. OK for a rave though.
- A fantastic evening! Superb music + an excellent film.
- Outstanding on all levels – The music complemented the film perfectly – the unmasking of the Phantom was particularly powerful as was the final sequence. Please bring Minima back!
- Excellent performance by Minima. A shame that the music was too loud and that it caused a horrible and distracting rattle within the theatre.
- Music was great!
- Really enjoyed doing something different for the night!
- Very good performance. Not what I expected.
- What a brilliant (revived) idea! More please.
- First time I’ve seen this cinema classic – greatly enhanced by the live music.
- Amazing stamina of musicians. Brilliant score.
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We had a fantastic time last night in the company of Jimmy Hay and Melanie Walters of ‘High Tide’.
Thanks also to the wonderful Ponatardawe Arts Centre staff for all of their support during this first season of film this year.
Photos – Linda Wellington
There is an ICO weekend happening on April 18th – 20th, 2015
The event will be at the BFI, Southbank, London
for full details please see
I know that there are a number of members thinking of going.
The cost is £25 for one day, £44 for two, and £60 for all three days.
There is a list of nearby accommodation on the ICO website.
It has been recommended that members book their own places and make their own arrangements for this one, but you will have company when you are there.
If you would like to reach other members why not head over to our Facebook page and join the discussion there:
We had a very successful meeting on the 14th of January to discuss and decide on adding value to our forthcoming events. Eight members were in attendance. Here are my brief notes from the meeting, when the minutes are circulated I will update this post.
Carry on reading to see the full notes from the meeting.
These are the film club films we are showing in our first season of films in 2015.
- A Feast of Italian Film (The Bicycle Thief and Le Quattro Volte)
Saturday 17th January 2pm (includes Italian themed catering).
- In Order of Disappearance (Kraftiodioten)
Wednesday 21st January, 2pm & 7:30pm.
SPONSOR: Wynford Thomas and Son – Funeral Directors and Monumental Masons, Pontardawe. (website)
Monday 2nd February, 2pm and 7:30pm.
Wednesday 18th February, 2pm and 7:30pm.
SPONSOR: Charlo’s Fish and Chips
Monday 2nd March, 2pm and 7:30pm.
Monday 16th March, 2pm and 7:30pm.
SPONSOR: East Side Insurance, Pontardawe. (website)
- Testament of Youth
Wednesday 1st April, 2pm and 7:30pm.
Tuesday 14th April, 2pm and 7:30pm.
- The Life of Riley (Aimer Boire et Chanter)
Monday 27th April, 2pm and 7:30pm.
- A Little Chaos
Thursday 14th May, 2pm and 7:30pm.
- Wild Tales (Relatos Salvajes)
Tuesday 26th May, 2pm and 7:30pm.