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Dir. Benjamin Christensen
Rogue Danish director Benjamin Christensen He would prove an influence on both Carl Dreyer and the German Expressionists with his extraordinary use of lighting and composition, and had made two of the most elaborate films of the pre-20s era, The Mysterious X (1914) and Night of Revenge (1915) before birthing his masterpiece, Haxan.
Still considered one of the most expensive films in Danish history, Haxan is something of a hybrid of mondo-documentary, fictionalized dramatization and even animation. Ostensibly meant to educate on the history of witchcraft, the film turns to bizarre recreations of ritual, sacrifice and torture complete with some of the most surreal setpieces and costuming decisions to hit the screen prior to the sexual revolution (which may explain the films celebrated re-release in1967 with a newly-added William Burroughs narration).
The director himself stars as the Devil, a nude impish thing with a wagging tongue a shocking image that would become a staple of horror film encyclopedias forever after.
Christensen moved to Hollywood in 1926, made a few more horror films, among them The Haunted House (1928) and Seven Footprints to Satan (1929) but was disillusioned by the Hollywood tendency to homogenize his disturbing imagery and fled back to Denmark shortly thereafter.