Watch the First Horror Film, George Méliès’ The Haunted Castle (1896)

In lit­er­a­ture, graph­ic descrip­tions of men­ace and dis­mem­ber­ment by mon­sters are as old as Beowulf and much, much old­er still, though it wasn’t until Horace Walpole’s 18th cen­tu­ry nov­el The Cas­tle of Otran­to inspired the goth­ic romance nov­el that hor­ror-qua-hor­ror came into fash­ion. With­out Wal­pole, and bet­ter-known goth­ic inno­va­tors like Mary Shel­ley and Bram Stok­er, we’d like­ly nev­er have had Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Love­craft, or Stephen King. But nowa­days when we think of hor­ror, we usu­al­ly think of film—and all of its var­i­ous con­tem­po­rary sub­gen­res, includ­ing creepy psy­cho­log­i­cal twists on good-old-fash­ion mon­ster movies, like The Babadook.

But from whence came the hor­ror film? Was it 1931, a ban­ner hor­ror year in which audi­ences saw both Boris Karloff in James Whale’s Franken­stein and Bela Lugosi in Tod Browning’s Drac­u­la? Cer­tain­ly clas­sic films by mas­ters of the genre, but they did not orig­i­nate the hor­ror movie. There is, of course, F.W. Murnau’s ter­ri­fy­ing silent Nos­fer­atu from 1922 (and the real life hor­ror of its deceased director’s miss­ing head).

And what about Ger­man expres­sion­ism? “A case can be made,” argued Roger Ebert, that Robert Weine’s 1920 The Cab­i­net of Dr. Cali­gari “was the first true hor­ror film”—a “sub­jec­tive psy­cho­log­i­cal fan­ta­sy” in which “unspeak­able hor­ror becomes pos­si­ble.” Per­haps. But even before Weine’s still-effec­tive­ly-dis­ori­ent­ing cin­e­mat­ic work dis­turbed audi­ences world­wide, there was Paul Wegener’s first, 1915 ver­sion of The Golem, a char­ac­ter, writes Penn State’s Kevin Jack Hagopi­an, that served as “one of the most sig­nif­i­cant ances­tors to the cin­e­mat­ic Franken­stein of James Whale and Boris Karloff.“ Even ear­li­er, in 1910, Thomas Edi­son pro­duced an adap­ta­tion of Mary Shelley’s mon­ster sto­ry.

So how far back do we have to go to find the first hor­ror movie? Almost as far back as the very ori­gins of film, it seems—to 1896, when French spe­cial-effects genius Georges Méliès made the three plus minute short above, Le Manoir du Dia­ble (The Haunt­ed Cas­tle, or the Manor of the Dev­il). Méliès, known for his silent sci-fi fan­ta­sy A Trip to the Moon—and for the trib­ute paid to him in Mar­tin Scorsese’s Hugo—used his inno­v­a­tive meth­ods to tell a sto­ry, writes Mau­rice Bab­bis at Emer­son Uni­ver­si­ty jour­nal Latent Image, of “a large bat that flies into a room and trans­forms into Mephistophe­les. He then stands over a caul­dron and con­jures up a girl along with some phan­toms and skele­tons and witch­es, but then one of them pulls out a cru­ci­fix and the demon dis­ap­pears.” Not much of a sto­ry, grant­ed, and it’s not par­tic­u­lar­ly scary, but it is an excel­lent exam­ple of a tech­nique Méliès sup­pos­ed­ly dis­cov­ered that very year. Accord­ing to Earlycinema.com,

In the Autumn of 1896, an event occurred which has since passed into film folk­lore and changed the way Méliès looked at film­mak­ing. Whilst film­ing a sim­ple street scene, Méliès cam­era jammed and it took him a few sec­onds to rec­ti­fy the prob­lem. Think­ing no more about the inci­dent, Méliès processed the film and was struck by the effect such a inci­dent had on the scene — objects sud­den­ly appeared, dis­ap­peared or were trans­formed into oth­er objects.

Thus was born The Haunt­ed Cas­tle, tech­ni­cal­ly the first hor­ror film, and one of the first movies—likely the very first—to delib­er­ate­ly use spe­cial effects to fright­en its view­ers.

The Haunt­ed Cas­tle has been added to our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­tin Scors­ese Names the 11 Scari­est Hor­ror Films: Kubrick, Hitch­cock, Tourneur & More

Time Out Lon­don Presents The 100 Best Hor­ror Films: Start by Watch­ing Four Hor­ror Clas­sics Free Online

Watch 10 Clas­sic Ger­man Expres­sion­ist Films: From Fritz Lang’s M to The Cab­i­net of Dr. Cali­gari

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

How a Mondrian Painting Has Accidentally Hung Upside-Down for 75 Years

Piet Mon­dri­an’s New York City I was recent­ly dis­cov­ered to have been hang­ing upside-down on dis­play for the past 75 years, which made for a cul­tur­al sto­ry prac­ti­cal­ly designed to go viral. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, some of those keep­ing it in cir­cu­la­tion have read it as proof pos­i­tive of the fraud­u­lence of “mod­ern art.” How good could Mon­dri­an be, after all, if nobody else over the past three-quar­ters of a cen­tu­ry could tell that his paint­ing was­n’t right-side-up? That isn’t a cogent crit­i­cism, of course: New York City I dates from 1941, by which time Mon­dri­an’s work had long since become aus­tere even by the stan­dards of abstract art, employ­ing only lines and blocks of col­or.

“The way the pic­ture is cur­rent­ly hung shows the mul­ti­col­ored lines thick­en­ing at the bot­tom, sug­gest­ing an extreme­ly sim­pli­fied ver­sion of a sky­line,” writes the Guardian’s Philip Olter­mann.

But “the sim­i­lar­ly named and same-sized oil paint­ing, New York City, which is on dis­play in Paris at the Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou, has the thick­en­ing of lines at the top,” and “a pho­to­graph of Mondrian’s stu­dio, tak­en a few days after the artist’s death and pub­lished in Amer­i­can lifestyle mag­a­zine Town and Coun­try in June 1944, also shows the same pic­ture sit­ting on an easel the oth­er way up.” It was just such clues that Susanne Mey­er-Büs­er, cura­tor of the art col­lec­tion of North Rhine-West­phalia, put togeth­er to diag­nose its cur­rent mis-ori­en­ta­tion.

Regard­less, New York City I will remain as it is. The eight-decade-old strips of paint­ed tape with which Mon­dri­an assem­bled its black, yel­low, red, and blue grid “are already extreme­ly loose and hang­ing by a thread,” said Mey­er-Büs­er. “If you were to turn it upside down now, grav­i­ty would pull it into anoth­er direc­tion.” The artist’s sig­na­ture would nor­mal­ly be a dis­trac­tion in an invert­ed work, but since he did­n’t con­sid­er this par­tic­u­lar work fin­ished, he nev­er actu­al­ly signed it — and if he had, of course, it would have been hung cor­rect­ly in the first place. In any case, it’s hard­ly a stretch to imag­ine hav­ing a rich aes­thet­ic expe­ri­ence with an upside-down Mon­dri­an; could we say the same about, for instance, an upside-down Last Sup­per?

Relat­ed con­tent:

Watch the Dutch Paint “the Largest Mon­dri­an Paint­ing in the World”

Japan­ese Com­put­er Artist Makes “Dig­i­tal Mon­dri­ans” in 1964: When Giant Main­frame Com­put­ers Were First Used to Cre­ate Art

Philoso­pher Por­traits: Famous Philoso­phers Paint­ed in the Style of Influ­en­tial Artists

What Hap­pens When a Cheap Ikea Print Gets Pre­sent­ed as Fine Art in a Muse­um

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

FAMOUS ARTIST DIES PENNILESS AND ALL ALONE: The Met Museum’s Fascinating Archive of Artists’ Death Notices

Oh to go behind the scenes at a world class muse­um, to dis­cov­er trea­sures that the pub­lic nev­er sees.

Among the most com­pelling — and unex­pect­ed —  at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art in New York City are a pair of crumb­ing scrap­books, their pages thick with yel­low­ing obit­u­ar­ies and death notices for a wide array of late 19th and ear­ly 20th-cen­tu­ry painters, sculp­tors, and pho­tog­ra­phers.

Some names, like Auguste Rodin or Jules Bre­ton, are still famil­iar to many 21st-cen­tu­ry art lovers.

Oth­ers, like Fran­cis Davis Mil­let, who served as a Union Army drum­mer boy dur­ing the Civ­il War and per­ished on the Titan­ic, were much admired in their day, but have large­ly fad­ed from mem­o­ry.

The vast major­i­ty are requiems of a sort for those who toiled in obscu­ri­ty. They may not have received much atten­tion in life, but the cir­cum­stances of their deaths by sui­cide, mur­der, or bizarre acci­dent had the whiff of the pen­ny dread­ful, a qual­i­ty that could move a lot of news­pa­pers. The deceased’s address­es were pub­lished, along with their names. Any trag­ic detail was sure to be height­ened for effect, the taw­dri­er the bet­ter.

As the Met’s Man­ag­ing Archivist, Jim Moske, who unearthed the scrap­books four years ago while prowl­ing for his­toric mate­r­i­al for the museum’s 150th anniver­sary cel­e­bra­tion, writes in Lit Hub:

Typ­i­cal of the era’s crass tabloid jour­nal­ism, they were craft­ed to wring max­i­mum dra­ma out of mis­for­tune, and to excite and fix the atten­tion of read­ers sus­cep­ti­ble to raw emo­tion­al appeal and voyeurism. Their authors drew upon and rein­forced stereo­types of artists as indi­gent, debauched, obsessed with great­ness, eccen­tric, or suf­fer­ing from men­tal ill­ness.

It took Moske a fair amount of dig­ging to iden­ti­fy the cre­ator of these scrap­books, one Arturo B. de St. M. D’Hervilly.

D’Hervilly spent a decade work­ing in var­i­ous admin­is­tra­tive capac­i­ties before being pro­mot­ed to Assis­tant Cura­tor of Paint­ings.  A ded­i­cat­ed employ­ee and tal­ent­ed artist him­self, D’Hervilly put his cal­li­graph­ic skills to work craft­ing illu­mi­nat­ed man­u­script-style keep­sakes for the fam­i­lies of recent­ly deceased trustees and lock­er room signs.

In a recent lec­ture host­ed by the Vic­to­ri­an Soci­ety of New York, Moske not­ed that D’Hervilly under­stood that the muse­um could use news­pa­pers for self-doc­u­men­ta­tion as well pro­mo­tion.

To that end, the Met main­tained accounts with a num­ber of clip­pings bureaus, media mon­i­tor­ing ser­vices whose young female work­ers pored over hun­dreds of dai­ly news­pa­pers in search of tar­get phras­es and names.

Think of them as an ana­log, paid pre­cur­sor to Google Alerts.

Many of the clip­pings in the scrap­book bear the ini­tials “D’H” or D’Hervilly’s sur­name, scrawled in the same blue cray­on the Nation­al Press Intel­li­gence Com­pa­ny and oth­er clip­pings bureaus used to under­line the tar­get phrase.

Moske the­o­rizes that D’Hervilly may have been using the Met’s account to pur­sue a per­son­al inter­est in col­lect­ing these types of notices:

New­ly pro­mot­ed to curate mas­ter­piece paint­ings, had he giv­en up for good his own artis­tic ambi­tion? Was the com­po­si­tion of these mor­bid tomes a veiled acknowl­edge­ment of the pass­ing away of his cre­ative aspi­ra­tion? Did he iden­ti­fy with the hun­dreds of uncel­e­brat­ed artists whose fates the news clip­pings record­ed in grim detail? Per­haps, instead, his intent was more mun­dane, and com­pil­ing them was an expe­di­ent for col­lect­ing use­ful bio­graph­i­cal data as he cat­a­logued pic­tures in the Met col­lec­tion that were made by recent­ly deceased artists.

Many of the hun­dreds of clip­pings he pre­served appear to be the only traces remain­ing of these artists’ cre­ative exis­tence on this earth.

After D’Hervilly suf­fered a fatal heart attack while get­ting ready to leave for work on the morn­ing April 7, 1919, his col­leagues took over his pet project, adding to the scrap­books for anoth­er next ten years.

In research­ing the scrap­books’ author’s life, Moske was able to truf­fle up scant evi­dence of D’Hervilly’s extracur­ric­u­lar cre­ative out­put — just one paint­ing in a cat­a­logue of an 1887 Nation­al Acad­e­my of Design exhi­bi­tion — but a 1919 clip­ping, duti­ful­ly past­ed (posthu­mous­ly, of course) into one of the scrap­books, iden­ti­fied the long­time Met employ­ee as a “SLAVE OF DUTY AT ART MUSEUM”, who nev­er took time off for hol­i­days or even lun­cheon, pre­fer­ring to eat at his desk.

via Lit Hub

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Take a New Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty Tour of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art

An Unbe­liev­ably Detailed, Hand-Drawn Map Lets You Explore the Rich Col­lec­tions of the Met Muse­um

Down­load 584 Free Art Books from The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art

The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art Puts 400,000 High-Res Images Online & Makes Them Free to Use

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Watch Free Cult Films by Stanley Kubrick, Fritz Lang, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi & More on the New Kino Cult Streaming Service

For many Open Cul­ture read­ers, the Hal­loween sea­son offers an oppor­tu­ni­ty — not to say an excuse — to re-expe­ri­ence clas­sic hor­ror films: F.W. Mur­nau’s Nos­fer­atu from 1922, for instance, or even George Méliès The Haunt­ed Cas­tle, which launched the whole form in 1896. This year, may we sug­gest a home screen­ing of the for­mi­da­ble work of vin­tage cin­e­ma that is 1968’s The Astro Zom­bies? Writ­ten, pro­duced, and direct­ed by Ted Mikels — auteur of The Corpse Grinders and Blood Orgy of the She-Dev­ils — it fea­tures not just “a mad astro-sci­en­tist” played by John Car­ra­dine and “two gore-crazed, solar-pow­ered killer robot zom­bies,” but “a bloody trail of girl-next-door vic­tims; Chi­nese com­mu­nist spies; dead­ly Mex­i­can secret agents led by the insane­ly volup­tuous Tura Satana” and an “intre­pid CIA agent” on the case of it all.

You can watch The Astro Zom­bies for free, and new­ly remas­tered in HD to boot, at Kino Cult, the new stream­ing site from film and video dis­trib­u­tor Kino Lor­ber. Pull up the front page and you’ll be treat­ed to a wealth of tit­il­lat­ing view­ing options of a vari­ety of eras and sub­gen­res: “Dri­ve-in favorites” like Ape and Beware! The Blob; “gold­en age exploita­tion” like Reefer Mad­ness and She Shoul­da Said ‘No’!; and even clas­sics like Fritz Lang’s Metrop­o­lis and Stan­ley Kubrick­’s Fear and Desire.

True cult-film enthu­si­asts, of course, may well go straight to the avail­able selec­tions, thought­ful­ly grouped togeth­er, from “Mas­ter of Ital­ian Hor­ror” Mario Bava and pro­lif­ic Span­ish “B‑movie” king­pin Jesús Fran­co. Those look­ing to throw a fright night might con­sid­er Kino Cult’s offer­ings filed under “hard­boiled hor­ror”: Kill­bil­lies, The House with 100 Eyes, Bun­ny: The Killer Thing.

Few of these pic­tures skimp on the grotesque; few­er still skimp on the humor, a nec­es­sary ingre­di­ent in even the most har­row­ing hor­ror movies. Far from a pile of cyn­i­cal hack­work, Kino Cult’s library has clear­ly been curat­ed with an eye toward films that, although for the most part pro­duced inex­pen­sive­ly and with unre­lent­ing intent to pro­voke vis­cer­al reac­tions in their audi­ences, are hard­ly with­out inter­est to seri­ous cinephiles. The site even includes an “art­sploita­tion” sec­tion con­tain­ing such taboo-breach­ing works as Cur­tis Burz’s Sum­mer House. Among its gen­er­al recent addi­tions you’ll also find Dog­tooth by Yor­gos Lan­thi­mos, per­haps the most dar­ing high-pro­file provo­ca­teur cur­rent­ly at work in the medi­um. Since Kino Cult has made all these films and more avail­able to stream at no charge, none of us, no mat­ter our par­tic­u­lar cin­e­mat­ic sen­si­bil­i­ties, has an excuse to pass this Hal­loween un-enter­tained — and more to the point, undis­turbed. Enter the col­lec­tion here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More

The First Hor­ror Film, George Méliès’ The Haunt­ed Cas­tle (1896)

Watch Nos­fer­atu, the Sem­i­nal Vam­pire Film, Free Online (1922)

Mar­tin Scors­ese Cre­ates a List of the 11 Scari­est Hor­ror Films

Stephen King’s 22 Favorite Movies: Full of Hor­ror & Sus­pense

Time Out Lon­don Presents The 100 Best Hor­ror Films: Start by Watch­ing Four Hor­ror Clas­sics Free Online

What Scares Us, and How Does this Man­i­fest in Film? A Hal­loween Pret­ty Much Pop Cul­ture Pod­cast (#66)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

An Introduction to the Painting of Artemisia Gentileschi, the First Woman Admitted to Florence’s Accademia di Arte del Disegno (1593–1653)

The works will speak for them­selves. — Artemisia Gen­tileschi

The praise Baroque painter Artemisia Gen­tileschi gar­nered dur­ing her life­time is aston­ish­ing.

Not because the work isn’t deserv­ing of the atten­tion, but rather, because she was a young woman in 17th-cen­tu­ry Flo­rence.

The first female to be accept­ed into Florence’s pres­ti­gious Accad­e­mia delle Arti del Dis­eg­no, she was col­lect­ed by the Medicis and respect­ed by her peers — almost all of them male.

Her style was as dra­mat­ic as the sub­jects she depict­ed.

One of her most com­pelling ones, cov­ered in Alli­son Leigh’s ani­mat­ed TED-Ed les­son, above, comes from an apoc­ryphal book of the Old Tes­ta­ment. It con­cerns Judith, a come­ly Jew­ish wid­ow who, assist­ed by her maid­ser­vant, behead­ed the loutish Assyr­i­an gen­er­al Holofernes, whose forces threat­ened her town.

This sto­ry has attract­ed many artists over time: Lucas Cranach the Elder, Donatel­loBot­ti­cel­liMichelan­ge­lo, Cristo­fano Allori, Goya, Klimt, Franz von Stuck, and Car­avag­gio, the painter whom Artemisia most sought to emu­late as a teen.

Artemisia vis­it­ed Judith and Holofernes sev­er­al times through­out her career.

Her first attempt, at around the age of 19 or 20, fea­tures two healthy-look­ing young women, their sleeves sen­si­bly rolled so as not to dirty their bright dress­es, a prospect that seems much more like­ly than it does in Caravaggio’s ver­sion, paint­ed some 15 years ear­ly.

Caravaggio’s Judith is brave, but maid­en­ly, a bit ret­i­cent in her snowy frock.

Artemisia’s is a bad ass, sword casu­al­ly bal­anced on her shoul­der as she checks that the coast is clear before escap­ing with a bas­ket con­tain­ing her victim’s head. Although she prayed for the suc­cess of her endeav­or, this is a woman who might not have need­ed god’s help to “crush the ene­mies” arrayed against her peo­ple.

Things get even more vis­cer­al in Artemisi­a’s third depic­tion, paint­ed per­haps 10 years lat­er, after she had mar­ried and moved to Flo­rence.

Art his­to­ri­an Sis­ter Wendy Beck­ett, an unabashed fan, describes the mus­cu­lar and bloody scene in Sis­ter Wendy’s 1000 Mas­ter­pieces:

Gen­tileschi shows Judith grip­ping the head and wield­ing the sword with a feroc­i­ty of con­cen­tra­tion as she applies her­self to the gris­ly but nec­es­sary task, like a prac­ti­cal house­wife gut­ting a fish (there is none of that one stroke and it’s off, beloved of the male painter. The maid might feel qualms, not Judith… The hor­ri­fied face of the butchered male is bal­anced by the grim­ly com­posed face of the butcher­ing female.

Sev­er­al years fur­ther on, Artemisia again imag­ined Judith’s flight, in a scene so the­atri­cal, it could be a pro­duc­tion still.

It’s easy to imag­ine that Artemisia’s tal­ent was care­ful­ly cul­ti­vat­ed by her artist father, Orazio Gen­tileschi, but when it comes to the feroc­i­ty of her depic­tions, the spec­u­la­tion tends to take on a dark­er cast.

The TED-Ed les­son brings up her rape as a teenag­er, at the hands of her father’s friend, fel­low painter Agostono Tas­si. Leigh also pro­vides legal and soci­etal con­text, some­thing that is often miss­ing from more sen­sa­tion­al allu­sions to this trau­mat­ic event.

If you engage with the TED-Ed’s les­son plan more deeply, you’ll find a link to an arti­cle on nov­el­ist Joy McCul­lough’s research into 400-year-old court tran­scripts pri­or to describ­ing Artemisia’s rape tri­al in 2019 Blood Water Paint, as well as his­to­ri­an Eliz­a­beth S. Cohen’s essay The Tri­als of Artemisia Gen­tileschi: a Rape as His­to­ry:

Com­bin­ing irre­sistibly sex, vio­lence, and genius, like the sto­ry of Heloise and Abelard, the rape of Artemisia Gen­tileschi has been retold many times. So often indeed, and with such rel­ish that this episode over­shad­ows much dis­cus­sion of the painter and has come to dis­tort our vision of her. In the past as well as in the recent renew­al of inter­est in Artemisia, biog­ra­phers and crit­ics have had trou­ble see­ing beyond the rape. In her case, the old-fash­ioned notion that women are defined essen­tial­ly by their sex­u­al his­to­ries con­tin­ues to reign, as if a girl who suf­fers assault must be under­stood as there­after a pri­mar­i­ly sex­u­al crea­ture.

Explore a gallery of Artemisia Gentileschi’s paint­ings here.

As long as I live I will have con­trol over my being. — Artemisia Gen­tileschi

Relat­ed Con­tent 

A Space of Their Own, a New Online Data­base, Will Fea­ture Works by 600+ Over­looked Female Artists from the 15th-19th Cen­turies

The Female Pio­neers of the Bauhaus Art Move­ment: Dis­cov­er Gertrud Arndt, Mar­i­anne Brandt, Anni Albers & Oth­er For­got­ten Inno­va­tors

The Icon­ic Uri­nal & Work of Art, “Foun­tain,” Wasn’t Cre­at­ed by Mar­cel Duchamp But by the Pio­neer­ing Dada Artist Elsa von Frey­tag-Lor­ing­hoven

The Com­plete Works of Hilma af Klint Are Get­ting Pub­lished for the First Time in a Beau­ti­ful, Sev­en-Vol­ume Col­lec­tion

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Hear 149 Vintage Halloween Radio Shows from the Golden Age of Radio

As Hal­loween radio broad­casts go, it would be hard to dis­place in Amer­i­can cul­tur­al mem­o­ry the adap­ta­tion of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds that aired in 1938. Not every Hal­loween spe­cial can be direct­ed by a young Orson Welles, of course, but that’s hard­ly a rea­son to ignore the count­less oth­er Hal­loween broad­casts from the Gold­en Age of Radio. This year you can tune them in with the Youtube playlist above, which col­lects 149 such spook­i­est-time-of-the-sea­son episodes from such beloved shows as Lum and Abn­er, The Aldrich Fam­i­ly, Fib­ber McGee and Mol­ly, Our Miss Brooks, The Great Gilder­sleeve, The Jack Ben­ny Pro­gram, The Shad­ow, and more.

Whether com­e­dy, dra­ma, or anoth­er genre besides, old-time radio pro­grams tend­ed to seize upon the theme of every hol­i­day that came down the pike, and Hal­loween — with its cos­tume par­ties, ever-present threat of pranks, and door-to-door demands — offered their writ­ers and per­form­ers a once-in-a-year oppor­tu­ni­ty for unwont­ed degrees of mis­chief.

For nor­mal­ly light­heart­ed shows, it was also a chance to go at least a lit­tle bit dark; for a show like Sus­pense, whose long and often chill­ing run began with an Alfred Hitch­cock pro­duc­tion, most weeks were Hal­loween right up until the end of radio’s Gold­en Age. (This playlist fea­tures a broad­cast from August of 1961 that still enter­tains in Octo­ber of 2022.)

If you’d just like a sound­track straight from the clas­sic Amer­i­can air­waves for next Mon­day night (or a week­end par­ty before­hand), have a lis­ten to the new­ly uploaded vin­tage Hal­loween playlist just above. Its fif­teen tracks include sea­son­al­ly suit­able songs from Tom­my Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Bing Cros­by, Ella Fitzger­ald, Sam­my Davis Jr., and Sarah Vaugh­an (not to men­tion its open­er, a not-exactly-“Monster Mash” num­ber from Bob­by Pick­ett), with vin­tage adver­tise­ments and oth­er broad­cast ephemera in between. It was as true in radio’s hey­day of the late nine­teen-twen­ties through the ear­ly six­ties as it is now: Hal­loween is the time to let blur the bound­aries between light and dark, myth and real­i­ty, the ordi­nary and the grotesque — and to make more than a few corny gags while you’re at it.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Hear Vin­cent Price, Hor­ror Film Leg­end, Read 8+ Hours of Scary Sto­ries

Hap­py Hal­loween! Louis Arm­strong Per­forms Skele­ton in the Clos­et (1936)

Hear 14 Hours of Weird H.P. Love­craft Sto­ries on Hal­loween: “The Call of Cthul­hu,” “The Dun­wich Hor­ror” & More

Hear 90+ Episodes of Sus­pense, the Icon­ic Gold­en Age Radio Show Launched by Alfred Hitch­cock

What Scares Us, and How Does this Man­i­fest in Film? A Hal­loween Pret­ty Much Pop Cul­ture Pod­cast (#66)

Hear Orson Welles’ Icon­ic War of the Worlds Broad­cast (1938)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Watch Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil, a Documentary Streaming Free Online

As pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned here on OC, the film dis­trib­u­tor Kino Lor­ber has been qui­et­ly mak­ing com­plete art films avail­able to stream on YouTube and its own web­site. In recent weeks, they’ve uploaded to YouTube the doc­u­men­taries, Beyond the Vis­i­ble: Hilma Af Klint and M.C. Esch­er: Jour­ney to Infin­i­ty. Now comes Hierony­mus Bosch: Touched by the Dev­il, which they describe as fol­lows:

In 2016, the Noord­bra­bants Muse­um in the Dutch city of Den Bosch held a spe­cial exhi­bi­tion devot­ed to the work of Hierony­mus Bosch, who died 500 years ago. This late-medieval artist lived his entire life in the city, caus­ing uproar with his fan­tas­ti­cal and utter­ly unique paint­ings in which hell and the dev­il always played a promi­nent role. In prepa­ra­tion for the exhi­bi­tion, a team of Dutch art his­to­ri­ans criss­cross­es the globe to unrav­el the secrets of his art. They use spe­cial infrared cam­eras to exam­ine the sketch­es beneath the paint, in the hope of dis­cov­er­ing more about the artist’s inten­tions. They also attempt to estab­lish which of the paint­ings can be attrib­uted with cer­tain­ty to Bosch him­self, and which to his pupils or fol­low­ers. The experts shut­tle between Den Bosch, Madrid and Venice, cut­ting their way through the art world’s tan­gle of red tape, in a bat­tle against the obsta­cle of count­less egos and con­flict­ing inter­ests. Not every muse­um is pre­pared to allow access to their pre­cious art works.

You can find Hierony­mus Bosch: Touched by the Dev­il list­ed in our col­lec­tion of Free Doc­u­men­taries, a sub­set of our larg­er col­lec­tion 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

To watch more free-to-stream Kino Lor­ber films, click here.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent

A Dig­i­tal Archive of Hierony­mus Bosch’s Com­plete Works: Zoom In & Explore His Sur­re­al Art

Hierony­mus Bosch Fig­urines: Col­lect Sur­re­al Char­ac­ters from Bosch’s Paint­ings & Put Them on Your Book­shelf

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of Hierony­mus Bosch’s Bewil­der­ing Mas­ter­piece The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights

The Mean­ing of Hierony­mus Bosch’s The Gar­den of Earth­ly Delights Explained

 

200 Bassists Play the Famous Bass Line of Queen & Bowie’s “Under Pressure”

Ding, ding, ding, de de, ding, ding–the bassline for Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pres­sure” is sim­ple and unfor­get­table. In Sao Paulo, ​British bassist Charles Berthoud paid trib­ute to John Dea­con’s riff, per­form­ing it with 200 oth­er bassists. Berthoud plays a beau­ti­ful lead; the oth­ers keep the rhythm going. Evi­dent­ly, the event was spon­sored by Rockin’ 1000, a col­lec­tive that stages gigs where hun­dreds of musi­cians per­form rock clas­sics togeth­er. You can find more of their videos in the Relat­eds below.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

via Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent

Lis­ten to Fred­die Mer­cury and David Bowie on the Iso­lat­ed Vocal Track for the Queen Hit ‘Under Pres­sure,’ 1981

1,000 Musi­cians Per­form “My Hero” in a Mov­ing Trib­ute to Foo Fight­ers’ Drum­mer Tay­lor Hawkins

David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” Per­formed Live by The Biggest Rock Band on Earth (1,000 Musi­cians in Total)

Watch 1,000 Musi­cians Play the Foo Fight­ers’ “Learn to Fly,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spir­it,” Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel,” and The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled

 

 

 

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.