Monday, June 19, 2006

Die Zwoelfte Stunde(Eine Nacht des Grauens) (The Twelfth Hour or Night of Horror)

DIE ZWOELFTE STUNDE (Eine Nacht des Grauens)
Keri Collins
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.


rhead: a contraction for redhead said...

“Die Zwoelfte Stunde (Eine Nacht Des Grauens)” is, as its explanatory note explains, “clearly a student film,” and not only in its histrionic satire of the horror film and its incomplete narrative but also in its technical mistakes. The narrative, more a montage of typical horror and/or silent movie scenes selected for the purposes of satire, ends abruptly with ignorant villagers celebrating their erroneous murder of the resident vampire. More a campfire skit (complete with shit acting) than a budgeted short, this film as satire loses bite when it itself too easily falls victim to ridicule. Besides the elision of elements, such as tension, character development, or narrative arc, that might redeem the insipidity of concept given over to satire for satire’s sake alone, the film is fraught with errors. These include titles that flash too quickly for easy or even complete reading, and the framing of the long table, which cuts out the boy and the vampire at tea. If these are purposeful elements of the parody they feel accidental, much along the lines of the director’s first take, which “managed to cloud the film stock beyond all recognition.” I consider it a bad sign when the purposeful and the accidental all crowd into the easy justification of satire.

Christine said...

I enjoyed this film, though like Rhead, I had difficulty discerning what technical flaws were intentional or not. I really couldn't tell because the "shhh"ing, popcorn munching sounds and later, the cell phone interruption, were funny touches and yet the quick flashes of dialogue were frustrating, even if they were intentional. Overall, this was fun to watch and brought back fond memories of Dracula. Maybe he was just misunderstood.

Jay said...

My vote is for the quickness of the title cards as intentional. I thought that was pretty obvious, since there was so much information presented in so little time for each title. And aren't we being a tad harsh on this production? You have to admit, it at least had some clever tactics, like when Nosferatu accidentally breaks the silence while delivering his lines, and asks if he should do the take again; or when he addresses the audience directly after a loud cell phone ring. At least they got the general atmosphere right, and you knew where they wanted you to laugh.

ltpalm said...

I harbor ambivalent feelings towards this film. Though I agree that the film is humorous and witty, it does have many technical issues that hinder its overall effect. For example, the cell phone bit would have been funnier if I could have actually been able to hear/distinguish it. Also, though funny, the bit was unoriginal and did not necessarily fit into the rest of the film, which until that point I felt was doing an adequate job at parodying. The cell phone bit seems more "camp." On the other hand, the film has many redeeming features. I loved the little things such as the sound effects of the boy's head moving and Nosferatu's overtly long fingers. Great! So I guess as a movie-viewer I enjoyed it. However, I agree with the issues Rhead and Christine have with the quality of the film.

Daniel C Hopkins said...

A great parody of horror and silent movies. I just wish I could hear the voices, when there was one. A nice narrative. Even the audience voices were a nice touch.