Commentary The year is 1924. The writer Josef has recently lost his wife. On the way back to his studio he starts to make up the plot of his new novel, consisting of a series of absurd actions which all mimic late nineteenth century Gothic horror novels. Josef tells the ultimate story with a sense of surreal madness and sublime irony; the arrogant Spanish nobleman who is led astray by an unfathomably evil Jesuit. Morgue attendants with an inclination for necrophilia, blood-thirsty monks and nuns, miracles and remarkably intricate family relations. Passionate love in a pastoral environment, beer-swigging cave monsters, counterfeiters and apparently dead people. The different plots blend in with the writer's own life at a furious speed and turns into a surreal narrative of a kind we are not normally spoilt with. A type of narrative used in the early days of cinema. The screenplay is based on the life and work of the Czech artist and mystic Josef Vachal. Vachal was a writer, printer and graphic artist; he composed the text directly in the case and illustrated his books with his own expressionistic woodcuts. The book ''Krvavy roman'' (Bloody novel) on which the film is based was printed in 17 copies only. The film is a loving pastiche in black and white of the masters of early cinema; Melies, Griffith and German expressionism. It is packed with period camera technique, quaintly realistic backdrops and it also tells the story, in an original way, of how the first tentative attempts at sound-film was made. Horror Story is the director Jaroslav Brabec's debut. He has previously worked as a cinematographer for a number of prominent Czech directors, among them Vera Chytilova. FREDRIK LANGE JAROSLAV

Title
Horror Story
Director
Jaroslav Brabec
Country
Czech Republic
Length
105 min
Festival
1994
Section
Competition
Language
Czech
Production year
1993
Original title
KRVAVY ROMAN
Cast
Ondrej Pavelka, Klara Jirskova, Raoul Schranil, Jakub Saic
Producer
Lucie Hertlová, Viktor Mayer
Script
Jaroslav Brabec
Music
Jirí Sust

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