Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hairy Horrorthon Halloween Countdown! # 8 ...Seven Footprints to Satan!

Did someone say...SATAN!
The Church Lady is forever etched in my mind anytime the name of the Great Nemesis is mentioned. Today's entry is another Golden Age Gemora Gorilla - this time with man himself portraying the devilish ape. The text below is cannibalized from a post I made 6 (!) years ago but hey- I'm old and I gotz 2 kids!

I have added a few videos and the time where Gemora menaces the pasty faced 'hero'.

SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN was originally penned by Abraham Merrit in 1927, and was one of two works adapted to film (the other was BURN WITCH BURN!, filmed as THE DEVIL DOLL in 1936). Merritt had a modest literary output; his primary occupation was that of editor for THE ALL AMERICAN WEEKLY, a Randolph Hearst publication.

SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN Boni and Liveright New York 1928

Here is a brief, innocuous description of the film from IMDB – coming from the mind of   Benjamin Christensen I imagine that the last line in the summary is most relevant. I was introduced to Christensen’s landmark film HEXEN via the brutally surreal and random 30’s shocker, MANIAC. The titular character has moments of crippling hallucinations where images of demons and witches from the Danish docudrama are superimposed upon scenes of mental torment. It is abundantly clear that they are in class beyond this exploitation films’ original material.

A young man of society wants to make an expedition to Africa, but his fiancĂ©e asks him for help about one of her father’s guests shortly before his planed departure. Her suspects about that guest were serious, this man tries to steal one of her father’s rubin, and she and her fiancĂ© are kidnapped and brought to a house, where strange things happen. The whole thing becomes a nightmare under the direction of a mysterious Mr. Satan.

SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN (1929) poster repro

The voluminous pages of THE MISSING LINK website have this to say about the early Hollywood effort of the Great Dane:
Daredevil Jim Kirkham, complains when he feels that his life is too mundane, until he and his sweetheart find themselves prisoners in a haunted castle while searching for a gemstone stolen during a reception at her house. The castle is inhabited entirely by monsters, wild animals and screaming victims, but eventually the horrors are revealed to have been nothing more than an elaborate hoax to show him that mundane reality can be as bizarre as any adventure.
A thrilling parade of monsters in a startling symphony of light and shadow, invested with a darkly mocking wit.

That seems a more apt description! I have yet to see the film myself. It was long considered lost until a European version surfaced. Though it is minus the sound effects and synchronized music that accompanied the North American release, the surviving print has Italian intertitles, a recent score, and is available at Creepy Classics. Another item on a long list of gorilla suit must-haves.


Another rare still - note a youthful Angelo Rossito with the curled shoes, best known for his FREAKS role with horror buffs, also widely recognized for his appearance as the Master in the third MAD MAX installment.

 The cult film guru Michael J. Weldon of Psychotronic magazine (which sadly may be out of print for a spell while they rebound from some distribution problems) had these comments about the classic dark house film. Weldon’s distinctive obituary pages are unmatched in print or on the web – both the obscure and forgotten names of cult and underground film get their due recognition in a few lines of print. The quote below is indicative of Michael’s expansive knowledge and his top spot as the go-to Hollywood grave watcher.

SEVEN FOOTPRINTS is overloaded with impressive horror makeup faces, interesting characters and visual surprises. One brief (pre-code) scene shows a naked oriental woman (we only see part of her). Her hands are then bound above her head with leather straps while the gorilla holds her feet! A hairy faced man (William V. Mong) who I think is a werewolf and a bearded dwarf (young Angelo Rossitto) both help the hero. A witch woman in a sexy dress (Nora Cecil) and a club footed cripple with long hair (Sheldon Lewis, who was DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE in 1920) both threaten. Also with the director as Eve’s uncle and Loretta Young (an extra). The director, best known for his incredible WITCHCRAFT 2 THROUGH THE AGES (22), also made THE HAUNTED HOUSE (28) and HOUSE OF HORROR (29) in Hollywood, both also with Todd and Mong, before returning home to Denmark. Todd, famous for 30s comedy shorts, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in her car in 35. The Japanese Kamiyama Sojin (also in THE BAT - 26) died in 44 in a U.S. internment camp. Hale, from Ireland, retired after the 40s and lived into his 80s.

 Appears around 7:50

Appears around 5:40

Appears around 5:19

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