Monday, March 30, 2015

Picture, if You Will, An Ancient Egyptian Pendant. . .

The Egyptian Mystery, a short comedy produced by Edison in 1909, uses "stop trick" effects to create a supernatural tale that teeters precariously between comedy and horror.  The film has all the elements of a Twilight Zone episode.  A society matron learns that her new pendant, an artifact unearthed in an Egyptian tomb, has strange and dangerous powers.  She orders her cook to dispose of the pendant, but the cook gives the item as a gift to the iceman.  The iceman is so grateful that he hugs the cook, who promptly disappears in his arms.  Everything that the iceman touches vanishes into thin air.  At one point, he makes a park bench dematerialize, which causes a pair of lovers seated on the bench to crash to the ground.  He touches a streetcar, which leaves the passengers sitting alone on the bare ground.  Distraught, the iceman returns home and locks himself in his bedroom.  With the damage that he has done weighing on his mind, he reaches out a trembling hand to his reflection in a mirror.  As soon as his fingers make contact with his reflection, the iceman along with the pendant vanishes in a puff of smoke.

Myths about the Hope Diamond undoubtedly had a direct influence on this story.

Cursed jewelry has continued to be part of movie folklore.  Take, for instance, the dark medallion of The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). . .

or the dreaded opal necklace of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009).

Ever since W. W. Jacobs wrote "The Monkey's Paw," an entire horror genre has grown up around the eerie influence of cursed objects.

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