Diary of a Madman (1963 film)

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Still from Diary of a Madman (1963 film)...

Diary of a Madman, AKA The Horla (1963)

Summary

"He upholds the law... except when he murders!" Based on "The Horla", a story by Guy de Maupassant. When Judge Simon Cordier goes to see Louis Girot, a prisoner he sentenced to death, the criminal insists he is not guilty and that he is inhabited by an evil spirit. Cordier dismisses Girot's claims, but he becomes unnerved when Girot lights himself on fire to supposedly end the demonic possession. After the visit, Cordier, beset by insomnia, begins to have odd visions and starts to wonder if Girot might have been telling the truth after all.

Details

  • Release Date: 1963
  • Country/Language: US, English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror, Mystery, Drama
  • Runtime: 1 hr 36 min
  • Starring: Vincent Price, Nancy Kovack, Chris Warfield
  • Director: Reginald Le Borg
  • Writer: Guy de Maupassant (stories), Robert E. Kent
  • Producer/Production Co: Robert E. Kent Productions
  • View Trailer: (link)
  • IMDb Page: (link)

Ratings

MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: PG (Violence and mild Adult Content)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • SS___ (Two Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; could be a very loose adaptation)

Though not based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, this film was based on a story that influenced "Lovecraftian" horror fiction, and the unexplained disembodied spirit, "the horla", is nearly as Lovecraftian a villain as anything seen in stories such as "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (fiction)".

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.

Reviews

Review Links:

  • Scott Ashlin at 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting (1.5/5 Stars) (link) - "Diary of a Madman’s most serious shortcoming is that it manages to seem extremely preachy without having any particular sermon in mind to preach."
  • Richard Scheib at The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review (3/5 Stars) (link) - "Even though the film predated The Exorcist (1973) and the like, it has an interesting view of possession... What also makes the story interesting is the level of moral ambiguity..."
  • H.P. Lovecraft, regarding the original story - "...Relating the advent in France of an invisible being who lives on water and milk, sways the minds of others, and seems to be the vanguard of a horde of extraterrestrial organisms arrived on earth to subjugate and overwhelm mankind, this tense narrative is perhaps without peer in its particular department...."

Synopsis

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

Based on "The Horla", a story by Guy de Maupassant. When Judge Simon Cordier goes to see Louis Girot, a prisoner he sentenced to death, the criminal insists he is not guilty and that he is inhabited by an evil spirit. Cordier dismisses Girot's claims, but he becomes unnerved when Girot lights himself on fire to supposedly end the demonic possession. After the visit, Cordier, beset by insomnia, begins to have odd visions and starts to wonder if Girot might have been telling the truth after all.


Notes

Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • The film-makers actually wanted to give the horla an unearthly, inhuman, and distorted voice, but the Studio declined, instead leaving us with an affably evil, human-sounding voice.


Associated Mythos Elements


Keeper Notes

External links, See Also