DIE ZWOELFTE STUNDE (Eine Nacht des Grauens)
Wales, 2004, 7:00
Despite the title, Die Zwoelfte Stunde is actually a British film. It begins as a typical black and white silent film reminiscent of the early years of film making. Raymond is an adolescent boy who has made up his mind, despite warnings, to go to the haunted castle and confront whatever he may find there. It is soon evident that this is not your ordinary silent film, but rather a twist on a classic form done completely with British humor. The dialogue screen goes back and forth between Raymond and one of the towns people arguing whether or not there exists true evil in castle. Raymond's repeated argument is "Not!"
Finally Raymond sets off for the castle only to be immediately confronted by a creepy vampire with extremely long fingers who stalks down the hall in true horror-movie fashion. When Raymond confronts him, the vampire, Nosferatu, offers Raymond a cup of tea. The dialogue screen tells us that Nosferatu is adding poison to... poison him, but Nosferatu is upset when Raymond asks for milk in his tea, and the poison is not imbibed.
Cut to the angry villagers who declare that they must save Raymond by killing the vampire! One villager points out that perhaps they could resolve the argument peacefully, there's a moment of contemplation, followed by shouts of "Kill him!"
Nosferatu shows Raymond out of the castle since it's getting dark and he'll be going out soon. When they leave, the angry villagers run up the hill and stab at Nosferatu with pitchforks and other agrarian tools, except to no avail, since Nosferatu creeps out of the pile and makes himself disappear. The villagers think they have saved the day and retreat back down to the village. Raymond shrugs, somewhat satisfied with his day.
I chose this film because of how typical the humor is to the dry British humor that is so well known. There was definitely a Monty Python feel to this short and I found myself laughing out loud, despite the fact that I was watching a b/w silent film.
Collins plays with the form and uses it in the comedy. It's unexpected and quite funny to have the boy and the older man arguing back and forth on dialogue screens and what they're saying is very much modern language. Also, there is a part when Raymond asks Nosferatu a question and Nosferatu is seen giving a long and quite animated response, only to have the dialogue screen pop up with "Na." I also felt the play on the "angry villagers" was incredibly funny, especially when the on man asks if they can resolve things peacefully--hysterical!
Also in the form of silent films is the music--it's reminiscent of the music we heard in the silent film we watched the first week of class. The music follows the action and adds to the mood, also indicates urgency, stunts, etc, very well.
Collins is also playing on horror films, both with the title and the stereotypical vampire. When Nosferatu and Raymond are leaving the castle, Nosferatu is still wiggling his super-long fingers behind Raymond. When Raymond turns around, Nosferatu apologizes and says it was a force of habit. Nosferatu is also noted as being born from Hell, also son of colon and Janet Davis--hysterical!
The self-relexiveness of the film was what really drew me in, Collins made fun of both the silent film and the horror film but creating a silent horror film. He used all of the aspects attributed to both films, right down to the shadows of the castle, the innocent insistence of the boy, and the thematic styles. The comedy isn't just found in jokes, but rather it's embedded in the way the film is made.