In the screening rooms


The  warehouse that became The Alchemist Hall was a storage area for an old government agency that had left behind crates of old movies and books.  The boxes were dusty and the some of the movies were damaged and beyond repair but in the end the time spent watching them and deciding which should be shown first was time well wasted.

The idea of a museum is to have displays or screening rooms that  allow visitors to pick the movie they want to watch when they want to watch it and so it is in The Strange Museum. Here are the first movies to be seen categorized ... because I like to catergorize.



Exploitation Movies
Exploitation filmmakers hoped to capitalize on the taboo subjects of venereal disease, sex before marriage, lesbianism, etc. while skirting the Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 which forbade a film from containing such content. Films like this would tour the United States for years - mostly being shown in rundown, skid row theaters. This film has been re-edited and re-titled ("Human Wreckage", "They Must Be Told", "Trial Marriage", "About Trial Marriage") many times to attract the same audience to film, to take advantage of a taboo subject which may have gotten press recently or to appease local censors who disapproved of the film's content.

Also, if you are interested in the rich, uniquely American history of exploitation films, there are two excellent books on the subject:

"Forbidden Fruit - The Golden Age of the Exploitation Film", Felicia Feaster and Bret Wood, Midnight Marquee Press, 1999.

"Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! A History of Exploitation Films, 1919 - 1959" Eric Schaefer, Duke University Press, 1999

Reefer Madness (1938)
Considered THE archetypal sensationalized anti-drug movie, but it's really an exploitation film made to capitalize on the hot taboo subject of marijuana use.
1 hour 08 mins
Sex Madness (1938)
This is a typical sex exploitation film from the early 1930s - complete with wild parties, sex out of wedlock, lesbianism, etc. A chorus girl's exposure to the "casting couch" also exposes her to syphilis.

51 mins 57 secs
The Cocaine Fiends (1935)
Drug dealer on the run from the law meets an innocent young girl and her brother, and turns them into "cocaine fiends."

1 hour 2 mins

What To Do In A Zombie Attack

A series of 1950 short films on how to survive a Zombie Holocaust.

15 mins 31 secs
Maniac (1934)
Notorious film from early exploitation king Dwain Esper, who brought us such classic early titles as "Sex Madness," "Narcotic," "Reefer Madness," "How To Undress In Front Of Your Husband," and "Marihuana."
50 mins 54 secs


Feature Film

Mambo (1954)

Silvana Mangano plays a young, poor Venetian woman, Giovanna Masetti. She is struggling with an difficult life as a shop assistant when one day a young count Enrico sees her in the glass shop where she works. She gets invited to the masquerade ball with the help of her unscrupulous boyfriend Mario's dirty deal with the count - the glorious evening does not turn out well, not at all. One bright moment to this disastrous evening is Giovanna's meeting up with a troupe of MAMBO dancers in particular the troupe leader, Toni Salerno (Shelley Winters).
1 hour 33 mins 

Dishonoured Lady (1947)

Madeleine Damien is the fashion editor of a slick Manhattan magazine by day and a lively party girl by night. Unfortunately, the pressures of her job, including kowtowing to a hefty advertiser, and her bad luck with men are driving her to a breakdown. She seeks the help of a psychiatrist, and under his orders, quits her job and moves into a smaller flat under a new identity. She becomes interested in painting and a handsome neighbor. He soon finds out about her past when an ex-suitor implicates her in a murder.
1 hour 24 mins 

The Man Who Knew To Much (1934)

While travelling in Switzerland, the child of a well-off couple is kidnapped. She is held to ensure that her father does not reveal what he knows about a planned assassination. Since they can't talk to the authorities, the parents plan to begin the search for their daughter on their own.

This is the original, British-made movie from 1934 and is now in the public domain. After coming to the United States, Alfred Hitchcock produced a remake of this movie in 1956 starring James (Jimmy) Stewart and Doris Day.
1 hour 15 mins 
Suddenly (1954)
"Three gunmen, who have been hired to assassinate the President, hold a family hostage while waiting for their target. Interesting B film which focuses on psychopathic killer well-portrayed against type by Frank Sinatra."
1 hour 15 mins 
The Stranger (1946)
 Set Connecticut after World War II, The Stranger is a cat and mouse game between Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), a member of the Allied War Crimes Commission and Franz Kindler (Orson Welles), a Nazi who has assumed the false identity of Dr. Charles Rankin.
To complete his new intelligentsia disguise, Kindler marries Mary Longstreet, daughter of a Supreme Court justice.
1 hour 35 mins 


Sci Fi/Horror

   Carnival Of Souls (1962)

 Atmospheric 60s B-horror film with a cult following.

Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around with two friends but everything goes wrong when challenged to a drag race and their car gets forced off of a bridge. The car sinks into the murky depths, and all three women are assumed drowned. Some time later Mary emerges unscathed from the river. She tries to start a new life by becoming a church organist but Mary finds herself haunted by a ghostly figure that instills fear and dread into her.
1 hour 22 mins 
Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
In this classic yet still creepy horror film, strangers hold up in a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse and battle constant attacks from dead locals who have been brought back to life by mysterious radiation.
1 hour 35 mins 
Phantom From Space (1953)
An alien being lands in Santa Monica. Killing two people who attacked him due to the menacing appearance of his spacesuit, the creature takes it off while being pursued by government authorities, revealing himself to be invisible
1 hour 12 mins 
Last Man On Earth (1964)
 Based on the chilling Richard Matheson science fiction Classic "I am Legend" and later remade as "The Omega Man" starring Charlton Heston. This classic features Vincent Price as scientist Robert Morgan in a post apocalyptic nightmare world. The world has been consumed by a ravenous plague that has transformed humanity into a race of bloodthirsty vampires. Only Morgan proves immune, and becomes the solitary vampire slayer.
1 hour 26 mins 
Idaho Transfer (1973)
 A crew of young researchers escape into the future to avoid the shutdown of their project. They find that some type of 'eco-crisis' disaster has de-populated the area around their lab (in rural Idaho) and, by implication, the nation or maybe the world. Stranded in the barren future, in their travels they encounter an abandoned freight train possibly full of corpses (maybe, it isn't very clear). One of them travels further into the future and meets a family in a futuristic automobile, implying that that humankind has recovered from the disaster (or have they?)
1 hour 25 mins 


Film Noir
Beat The Devil (1953)
 This movie has not become a cult classic for nothing. Among its other merits, it is one of the few films where a film noir is mixed with a comedy.

'Beat the Devil' is a fine piece of work by Houston, Capote, and Bogie. Its totally enjoyable. Good pacing, snappy dialogue, plenty of atmosphere and unusual locales. The plot has a half-dozen twists and surprises--and more than a few chuckles are to be had, at the wild antics of the outlandish cast of characters.

1 hour 40 mins 
Panic In The Streets (1950)
One night in the New Orleans slums, vicious hoodlum Blackie (Jack Palance) and his friends kill an illegal immigrant who won too much in a card game. Next morning, Dr. Clint Reed (Richard Widmark-this time not seen pushing little old ladies in wheelchairs down the stairs) of the Public Health Service confirms the dead man had pneumonic plague...
Detour (1945)
 In a classic poverty-row noir, the protagonist struggles helplessly in the grip of inexorable fate.
This was the first poverty-row film chosen by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry, in 1992. Don't miss it.
1 hour 8 minutes
Scarlet Street (1945)
 "Sultry woman's boyfriend has her hook middle-aged clerk for his money, leading first to ironic and then tragic complications.
Second of a pair of closely related middle class nightmares directed by Fritz Lang. (Remake of Jean Renoir's 1931 French film, La Chienne.)" - noir expert Spencer Selby
1 hour 42 minutes
He Walked By Night (1948)
Gripping film noir crime drama about a manhunt for a ruthless killer who plays a deadly cat and mouse game with the police.
Starring Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Whit Bissell, and Jack Webb, this movie was the basis for "Dragnet". Watch for Whit Bissell, the unsung but solid bit player who has appeared in hundreds of films and TV shows
1 hour 18 minutes


Cartoons and Animation
Minnie The Moocher (1932)
Minnie gets caught up with a pot headed coke sniffin junkie who teaches her how to "kick the gong" ( mainline heroin ).
Cab Calloway has a topnotch band and the kids are the winners here. They get a glimpse into a culture totally taboo and get to hear some of the finest jazzmen alive. Although they would not realize it for another twenty years.

Make Mine Freedom (1948)
This Cold War-era cartoon uses humor to tout the dangers of Communism and the benefits of capitalism.

9 mins 30 secs  
Betty Boop - Judge For A Day (1935)
 Betty is the cleaner a the local courthouse. On the bus ride to work one day, she grows tired of all the liberties her fellow citizens take. She falls asleep and dreams about what she'd do if she were the judge. Among her decrees: a thoughtless smoker learns about second-hand smoke the hard way, and an obnoxious celebrity impersonator is rewarded by having his ears blasted with imitations of Tarzan and the Shadow.
7 mins 33 secs  
Superman - The Mechanical Monsters (1941)
 A mad scientist unleashes robots to rob banks and loot museums. Superman saves the day.
Animation by Steve Muffati and George Germanetti. Music by Sammy Timberg. Produced in 1941.
10 mins 14 secs  
Popeye - Ancient Fistory (1952)
A Cinderella like tale in which Olive is the princess and Popeye is the prince. Bluto is the shopowner brute who bullies Olive, only to get taught a lesson by a buff, spinach-eating Prince Popeye.
Animation by Al Eugster and William B. Pattengill, story by Irving Spector, scenics by Robert Connavale, and music by Winston Sharples.
6 mins 59 secs  


Ephemeral Film
VD Is For Everybody (1969)
VD -- is for everybody
Not just for the few
Anyone can share VD
With someone nice as you

VD -- is for everybody
Darlin' have no doubt
That anyone can get VD
That's what it's all about

Sing along now ....
1 min 01 sec
Rural Civil Defence (1965)
Public service announcements by the U.S. Civil Defense office inform farmers what to do in case of nuclear attack using marionettes.

10 mins 30 secs
Beginning Responsibility - Lunchroom Manners (1959)
The rude, clumsy puppet Mr. Bungle shows kids how to behave in the school cafeteria - the assumption being that kids actually want to behave during lunch. This film has a cult following since it appeared on a Pee Wee Herman HBO special.

9 mins 31 secs
Joy Of Living With Fragrance
Shows what the magic of fragrance can do for every woman. Gives her added confidence, a heightened personality and a uniqueness that is all her own. Tells where exotic scents come from and offers suggestions on the selection and application of various perfumes and colognes.

13 mins 19 secs
Age Of Turmoil (1953)
Activities of six adolescents are recorded during one afternoon and evening. Different home situations, ordinary growing pains, e.g., loafing, criticizing, daydreaming are dealt with.

18 mins 36 secs
Modern Guide To Health (1947)
Animation short promoting general health awareness. British NHS in 1947. Public health. Public Health Campaign Films. Post War era. Humorous cartoon treatment of general health problems: correct posture; the value of exercise and fresh air; the importance of suitable clothes; how to avoid insomnia.

8 mins 46 secs