The world’s first horror movie doesn’t seem particularly scary these days, but in 1896, Le Manoir du Diable (released in the U.S. as The Haunted Castle) had the most cutting-edge special effects of its day. Made by famed French filmmaker Georges Méliès, whose films include the influential A Trip to the Moon, the short revolves around a bat that turns into the demon Mephistopheles. 

The soundtrack sounds like a weird little lullaby, somewhat taking away from the horror of it all—it actually makes pretty good work music, if I’m being honest. But there are some fun 19th century special effects, some of the first ever to appear on film. People appear and disappear in clouds of smoke, and bats suddenly take human forms! On the less frightening side, there are quite a few men in funny hats, and the demon pokes people in the butt—which is what really makes the film come together. (After all, nothing says “Happy Halloween!” like a pitchfork to the rear end.)

[h/t: Open Culture]

Banner image screenshot via YouTube