Sunday, August 26, 2012

Silent Sundays: Haunted Spooks (1920)



“We must make the house too hot for them- drive them out- and the place is ours.”

            Haunted Spooks is nice short silent film running only twenty-five minutes long. More goes on in these twenty-five minutes than most hour long films!
            A girl’s (Mildred Davis) grandfather has just passed away and he leaves his plantation home to her on the condition that she is married and spends a night in the old house. The Girl is supposed to be only sixteen years old. She tells her lawyer she has “nothing but a Ford and a phonograph.” The Girl’s uncle was never really a schemer but he wants the house and turns into one.
            A boy (Harold Lloyd) is in love with a rich girl who constantly has rich men crawling all over her. At a party he literally fights off another guy for the girl. She tells the two men that whoever is the first to ask her father for her hand she will marry. The men run to the house trying to get to her father. The Boy lets the other guy go in guns blazing to the father while he sits back and watches things not so smoothly unfold. The Boy gets to the father eventually and the father says he can marry the daughter. Unfortunately when The Boy gets to the girl she is already with another man. Heartbroken The Boy then tries to kill himself in various ways: the first is with a  gun he picks up off the street but he cannot get himself to pull the trigger, second he tries to be hit by a tram car but the car veers away onto another track, third and fourth he tries to drown himself but on the first attempt the lake is too shallow and the second he winds up in a boat, finally he tries to be hit by a car but the car keeps moving away from him. The owner of the car happens to be The Girl’s lawyer. The Boy says something about how he just lost the love of his life and the lawyer immediately grabs him for The Girl.
            Boy and Girl get married. She has filled her old car up with some belongings which include a few chickens and ducks. The Boy being nice drives the car but the whole way there he is being poked at by the animals in the cage! To make things worse chickens that were wondering the road start flying in his face!
            When the newlyweds get to the house there is a big thunderstorm. The Uncle and his partner (never mentions if the woman is his wife or mistress or girlfriend) make up a story that the house is haunted. He tells his superstitious black servant that every few years ghosts come up out of their graves and haunt the house. The servant in turn goes and tells the other superstitious black servant that there are ghosts in the house and they all run. As soon as Boy and Girl walk in the house they see the “ghosts” wandering around the house. Frightened they run all over the place and hide wherever they can.
            Eventually the uncle and his partner are found out and kicked out. Thinking that the “ghosts” of have The Boy sees what looks like dismembered legs walking out of a room and his hair literally jumps on edge going straight into the air! The legs were only the little boy servant who got scared and hid in the pants.  Boy and Girl not even knowing each other’s name go off to bed in peace.
            I loved Haunted Spooks. Harold Lloyd was so funny in this. I was cracking up when he got scared of the pants and his hair stood straight up. If the story seems familiar to you in a way it is probably from either the 1927 or 1939 version of Cat and the Canary depending which one you have seen. I have seen the 1939 version with Paulette Goddard and Bob Hope. As soon as I read the plot of Haunted Spooks where the couple had to spend just one night in a haunted house I immediately thought of Cat and the Canary. I am sure the 1927 version was inspired by Haunted Spooks. Haunted Spooks is a very funny and very entertaining silent film. Actually I was honestly and literally laughing from the first credit to the very last scene. The opening credits are a panic giving a description of the Boy, Girl, and Uncle and funnily telling where the story takes place. Highly recommend seeing Haunted Spooks if you can find, Harold Lloyd and the plot are so funny.