Monday, March 13, 2017

Curse of the Crimson Altar in Eight Minutes and 8mm

Back in the day, before on-demand TV, downloads, DVDs, laser discs and even VHS, the only way most people could see movies at home (other than when they had TV showings, obviously) was to watch heavily condensed versions on Super 8 film.  These were sold commercially - I well remember the ads for them which used to run in newspapers - and, to view them, you'd obviously need to have a projector capable of showing 8mm films.  Which most people didn't.  Nevertheless, there must have been a reasonably healthy market for them, as a lot of titles were offered, ranging from ancient horror films, through Italian sword and sandal epics to relatively recent releases (digest versions of the Planet of the Apes movies, for instance, were available).  They were also surprisingly long-lived: digest versions of Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Close Encounters were all available.

These 8mm digests varied greatly in format, some used black and white prints, even when the original was in colour, some were silent, with subtitles. Some ran up to fifteen minutes, but most were around the eight to ten minute mark.  Some offered highlights of the complete film, others a complete sequence (both the Planet of the Apes and Star Wars digests I've seen present the climaxes of those films), but most presented a cut down version of a full feature.  Obviously, it involved some drastic editing to bring a ninety minute film down to eight minutes and retain any semblance of coherence.  Actually, most weren't coherent if you hadn't seen the original. A case in point being the condensed version of Tigon's Curse of the Crimson Altar which I've presented here.  To be fair, it wasn't a great movie in the first place, but the digest version is pretty much incomprehensible.  It opens about fifteen minutes into the movie proper and then proceeds to jump through several scenes at break neck speed before reaching an ending inexplicable based on what went before.  Overall, it's a surreal experience and, on that level, surprisingly entertaining. 



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