Iran has had a long and interesting film industry. The first Iranian movie was a silent film in 1930 (Haji Agha) and the first sound film hit theatres in 1932 (Lor Girl). Once the industry got started the majority of Iranian films were dramas and comedies.
The 1950’s to the 1960’s saw a flood of commercial films. During this period the first horror films started to appear. After the revolution of 1979 the film industry was a mess. It eventually started up again although a lot of the older films were now banned due to religion and government policies. Still brilliant filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami emerged crafting some masterpieces of cinema. More recently the horror genre has emerged again with such films as Khabgahe Dokhtaran aka Girl’s Dormitory, a film about a haunted house where a bunch of school girls are forced to stay.
Today’s film from director Samouel Khachikian. A Party in Hell (1958) is about a miserable wealthy man who doesn’t really care about his kids. He’s going to marry off his daughter against her will and his relationship with his son has almost driven the boy to a breakdown. The man gets sick and dreams that he goes to hell. The whole sequence is very elaborate and while stagey looking it’s kind of impressive for the time. Naturally when the man wakes up he changes his tune about his life.
Samouel Khachikian also directed a couple of other horror themed films, The Midnight Terror (1961) and Delirium (1965). It’s kind of tough to find out about Iranian films, I think I need to start learning several languages. In Iran it seems that most of the modern horrors are more in the crime thriller genre rather than out and out horror films but there does seem to be more popping out on the screens everyday.
A Party in Hell