Movie 3min

The Infernal Lair (1905)

Original title: L‘antre Infernal
A devil puts a woman into a boiling cauldron in a fiery cave.

+ 2 images
Director Gaston Velle
Country France
Language French
(Original) L‘antre Infernal
(Alternative) Skeleton magician
(Alternative) Infernal Cave
(France, 1905) Pathé Frères
(USA, 1905) Pathé Frères
(US Import) Pathé Frères
Black and White Cave Dance Fantasy Hell Horror Short Silent Film The Devil Trick Film

Acquired by the Museum in 1935, this inventive stencil-colored trick film has not been seen in its original colored version for many years. In the caves of hell, Satan stokes the eternal flames and evokes the souls of the damned, whom he turns to dust and plunges into the infernal depths. The coloring here is integral to the film’s sense of fantasy and wonder, seamlessly blending the stop-trick substitution effects (à la Georges Méliès) and enhancing the devil’s fiery magic.

This film marks one of the earliest uses of Pathé’s stencil-color process, which is similar in effect to hand-coloring. Stencils were prepared by hand using a pantograph, and ran the same length as the 35mm film print: several thousand frames. A different stencil was cut for each color dye to be applied. After this meticulous initial work (usually undertaken by women), black-and-white release prints were colored one dye at a time using an automated process, reducing the cost and labor involved in making each print, and further expanding the prevalence of color in early cinema.

Source: The Museum of Modern Art

In a fantastic cavern amidst the fires of hell, Satan creates the eternal flames while performing diabolical contortions. He evokes souls of the damned, and women dance nude in front of them. Satan breaks the spell and returns his victims to the flames. The colors and the photography create a marvellous effect as if one was truly descending into hell.

Source: Pathe Freres

A devil goes into a magic cave where he makes a sleeping girl vanish. He then pours a liquid into three bottles, in each of which a sleeping girl appears. In the next episode one of the girls appears on a portable screen and is joined by the other two.

Source: Pathe Freres

The Infernal Regions and the Devil conversing with the two last Spirits (charming females). After flirting with them for a time, he throws them both into a couldron, and they end in smoke. Dancing amidst fire. Lovely effects.

Source: The Era, London, September 9, 1905, p. 31.

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Ferdinand Zecca - Producer (Supervising)
Segundo de Chomón - Cinematography
Gaston Velle - Director
Just the devil, two women, and dance

This is from 1905, so I expect a little more than what this film had to offer. It is simply the Devil and two women, in Hell, dancing, amongst the flames. Remarkably "close up" I must say, and that adds to the level of detail. It does have some innovation with the flames, and the coloring looks pretty good - but in the end, it is a forgettable film.