1933-1964 (PLEASE NOTE: These bundles cannot be used as part of The $98 Special or any other Sinister Cinema sale.) Here's a bundle of FIVE terrific films, all with a holiday or family theme to them—and all for just $42 postpaid! You get:
1) WHO KILLED SANTA CLAUS (1941) A fascinating film with many subplots, all embellished by a wonderful music score. It’s Christmas Eve in a snow-covered mountain community. The children are just getting out of school when a darkly-clad baron returns to his nearby chateau after a ten-year absence. He is in hiding because of leprosy. Meanwhile, a mysterious intruder attacks a local priest while attempting to steal a sacred ring from the church. A young boy is bound to his bed—crippled for life. A strange, beautiful woman searches endlessly for her missing cat. An old globe-maker dons his Santa Claus costume and goes about the village with gifts for the local children. Later, after Santa enters the church, which is packed with Christmas Eve parishioners, the sacred ring disappears! All hell breaks loose when Santa is found in the snow—murdered. The village is snowed in and the police are blocked from the village. Who is the killer? The snow-ridden search for Santa, culminating with the discovery of his murdered corpse, features some stunning B&W imagery. Watch for the riveting “locked closet” scene. There are many twists and surprise moments in this brilliant film, which has one of the happiest endings ever put on screen. Wow… In French with English subs.
2) THE PHANTOM WAGON (1939) Pierre Fresnay, Marie Bell, Micheline Francey, Louis Jovet, Jean Mercanton. The souls of those who die at midnight on New Year’s Eve are condemned to drive the “Death Cart” for an entire year. This horse-drawn cart is what takes human souls to meet their maker, and the cart’s creaky sound is heard by those who are soon to die. The early scene of an old woman struggling through the snow as the sound of the cart rings in her ears is truly eerie. This is a brilliant film, an epic dark fantasy that has all the atmospheric scares of a Val Lewton chiller. Yet it’s far more than just another B&W horror film. It deals with the good and evil in men’s souls and the driving force of goodness that can bring them into the light. Bell is one of the most beautifully angelic women you’ll ever see on screen as she plays a nun dying from TB, who desperately tries to save an alcoholic tramp from his own demons. Yet it is Bell herself who struggles with her own character as she falls in love with this human wretch. The climax of the film is riveting as the Death Cart returns to bring more lost souls to their destiny. Wow! Subtitled in English. From 35mm.
3) SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964) John Call, Pia Zadora, Leonard Hicks, Vincent Beck, Bill McCutcheon, Victor Stiles. So bad it's great. Martians travel into the void of outer space on a secret mission to Earth. Their mad scheme? Kidnap Santa Claus and bring him back to Mars! For what purpose? To engage his services for brightening the lives of deprived Martian kids, who really don't have a Santa-type character to give them presents once a year. Okay, so this isn't the greatest movie ever made, but it's still a fairly good family Christmas fantasy that's still liked by the young ones in the household. Film's highlight is 8-year-old Pia Zadora, who went on to win a Golden Globe award for acting many years later. Beautiful color, from 35mm.
3) PASSING OF THE THIRD FLOOR BACK (1935) Conrad Veidt, Anna Lee, Rene Rey, Frank Cellier, Beatrix Lehmann, John Turnbull, Ronald Ward. A terrific British fantasy. The setting is an old roominghouse filled with various people, all with different problems. They're lorded over by an evil mephisto-like slum lord. However, their lives are changed by the arrival of a Christ-like stranger who aids them with their problems and under whose influence they each begin to see changes for the better in their lives. The slumlord, though, yearns to keep them in misery and even tries to pressure one of his tennents into marriage. A beautiful story with a wonderful ending, and easily one of Veidt's very best films.
4) THE WANDERING JEW (1933) Conrad Veidt, Marie Ney, Basil Gill, Anne Grey, Dennis Hoey, Jack Livesey. This is a big, sprawling epic fantasy. Veidt plays a Jew who goes to Christ, asking him to cure his mistress’s illness. Christ tells him that when she returns to her real husband she will be cured. Refusing to let her, Veidt essentially condemns her to death. Then, when Christ is staggering toward his crucifixion, Veidt spits on him in contempt. Christ condemns him to wander the Earth until he returns. The rest of this captivating film details Veidt’s wanderings throughout the centuries, not being allowed to die until he becomes almost Christ-like himself. Amongst other things, he becomes a warrior, a merchant, and a doctor as he wanders across the world. Although the film deals greatly with Christianity (both positive and negative aspects) it is not really a religious film per se. There are many memorable moments. Veidt is great in his first English-speaking portrayal. Not to be missed!