Watch ‘The House of the Devil’, the first horror film ever made and released in 1896
George Méliès, a French illusionist and film director, is widely credited as the pioneer of the earliest known technical and narrative developments in the formation of cinema.
Méliès, well-known for his use of special effects, created Le Manoir du diable or The House of the Devil, the 1896 French short silent film which is technically considered to be the first horror film ever created.
Running for three minutes, the film was also considered highly ambitious for its time and pioneered longer format films. Interestingly, because the plot includes the transformation of a human turning into a bat, many historians have also considered the short film to be the first vampire film in history.
Slight confusion around the film has steadily grown over the years after the named was changed to The Haunted Castle for its US release and, in Britain, Méliès’ work is known as The Devil’s Castle. On top of that, a remake was made just one year later and was given the title of Le Château hanté, which due to similar titles, often causes confusion with the original.
Méliès’ film, however, was released by his own studio, but it remains unknown whether the film was either released at the end of the year 1896 or at the beginning of 1897 — despite that, the project remains the first horror film regardless.
Filmed outside in the garden of Méliès’s property in Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis, the film was presumed lost until 1988, when a copy was found in the New Zealand Film Archive.