“Though horse and carriage are always the same, the driver is not. The last soul to die each year – the one who passes over at the stroke of midnight – is destined to be Death’s driver for the following year.” Sounds like a good gig except they left out the “one night is like 100 years” part. Join this episode’s Grue-Crew – Whitney Collazo, Chad Hunt, Jeff Mohr, and listener guest host Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff – as they travel to Sweden for a silent ride in The Phantom Carriage (1921).
Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 85 – The Phantom Carriage (1921)
On New Year’s Eve, the driver of a ghostly carriage forces a drunken man to reflect on his selfish, wasted life.IMDb
- Director: Victor Sjöström
- Writer: Victor Sjöström; Selma Lagerlöf [based on the novel Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness! (Körkarlen; 1912) by the Nobel prize-winning Swedish author]
- Cinematography by: Julius Jaenzon (as J. Julius)
- Editorial Department: Eugen Hellman – color timer: negative cutter (as Eugén Hellmann)
- Victor Sjöström as David Holm
- Hilda Borgström as Anna Holm
- Tore Svennberg as Georges
- Astrid Holm as Edit
- Concordia Selander as Edit’s Mother
- Lisa Lundholm as Maria
- Einar Axelsson as David’s Brother
- Nils Aréhn as Prison Chaplain
- Tor Weijden as Gustafsson
- Simon Lindstrand as David’s Companion
- Nils Elffors as David’s Companion
- John Ekman as Police Constable
Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Carriage is a groundbreaking silent film for both its narrative structure and its multiple exposure visual effects. This episode’s Grue-Crew marveled at the depth of the character development. They’re also wowed by the effective use of up to four-layered multiple exposures. The film also incorporates social problems of the times – alcoholism and tuberculosis – that resonate with ills of the current times. Of course, the crew discusses the legendary scene that inspired the “Heeere’s Johnny” scene in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980).
The Grue-Crew universally regard The Phantom Carriage as a remarkable film. It is currently available to stream on the Criterion Channel and on physical media as a Criterion Blu-ray disk.
Chad, Whitney, and Jeff give a big Grue-Crew thank you to Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff for her insightful contributions to this episode … and for reading the book!
Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era records a new episode every two weeks. The next episode in their very flexible schedule, chosen by their next super-secret guest host, will be Onibaba (1964), a Japanese film written and directed by Kaneto Shindô, loosely based on a Shin Buddhist parable.
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To each of you from each of us, “Thank you so much for listening!”