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(1965), B/W, 86 minutes
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Presented by Young America Productions
Produced at Soundlab, Coral Gables, Fla.
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Manuel San Fernando


DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!




Oh my, this is a good one. Murray’s producer credit for this strange and beautiful film appears over an icon of Christ on the altar, so we feel we’re in for something highly unusual, and indeed we are.

SPIRITISM is not a horror film as much as an occult fantasy, an overwrought, phantasmic melodrama depicting a gutwrenching, ultimately tragic battle between good and evil, played out by a philosophically-torn middle-class family. The entire film is steeped in Catholic theology in crisis, with overzealous arguments for faith in God battling with seductive reasonings to call on evil spirits for help.

The occult group is portrayed as thoughtful, intelligent scientists, trying like hell to convince a superstitious (i.e. Christian) world that contacting dead people is a perfectly wonderful thing! The only mishap occurs when one woman decides that help is help, and that the evil spirits will do just as well as the good ones.

The endless discussions between family members as to the vailidty of using occult practices to advance one’s personal lot, in one way seems like harmless fun, but to the deeply religious Mexican culture of the time, may have seemed like high sacrilege.

The seance scenes are unbelievably odd, what with the medium’s wacky schizo trances, the materialization of creepy ghost-like spirits, and the inapproapriate lullaby music on the soundtrack. There are fascinating and effective scenes of good and evil spirits doing battle in the semi-dark, as our robed mortals watch in terror. The materialization of Satan segment, in particular, has dynamic cutting which makes it pretty friggin’ weird.

Most shocking however, is the appearance of the biblical Satan and Christ in a literal battle for souls. This naive but highly imaginative scene surely gives this film some kind of historical cinematic significance, and makes an indelible impact on the viewer.

And this most amazing film ends with a most amazing proclamation: “The incidents that we have just seen, could have been true, or false; lunacy, or witchcraft. There are many who are helplessly driven by a desire to explore forbidden phenomenon. If, with this picture, we are able to quealch that unhealthy curiosity in some, we will consider our job, well done!!!”


* (updated 02-14-06) Thanks to a terrific new book we just received, “Ghouls, Gimmicks and Gold” by Kevin Heffernan, (2004, Duke University Press), we have been able to update the U.S. television release date for this Murray horror title to 1965. The appendices to this study of the horror film in America, circa 1955-1968, include complete listings of syndication feature film packages from many distributors, including American International Television, who subleased the K. Gordon Murray film catalog under the title THRILLERS FROM ANOTHER WORLD. It seems that 1965 was the watershed year for genre film sold to television, with a veritable flood of titles released by both domestic and foreign distribs.

* (effective 05-01-03) After a very brief window of availability, this long-sought K. Gordon Murray title is once again out of print, due to international copyright issues. Used video tapes of this title may be found on online video dealers and auction sites. Stay tuned for further developments!

* This film is based on a short story called “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs, first published in Harper’s Magazine, September 1902.

-Rob Craig

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