Three men are participating in a séance, a Medium (Vincenzo Gatti), Allan (Lav Kamenarovic) and a student (Gianni Hoepli) while a doctor (Carlo Bissi) looks on. Through the use of automatic writing a spirit from beyond sends Allan a warning. “Your friend Valdemar is near death. Save him applying your hypnotic sleep.”
Allan’s friend, Valdemar (Gino Eprisi) is indeed dying. Allan, the doctor and the student rush to his side. Valdemar is being attended by a Nun (Iberia Bollain). She lets the three men into Valdemar’s room. Allan puts Valdemar into a hypnotic trance while the student takes notes and the doctor looks on. Allan verifies that Valdemar is under a hypnotic sleep. Valdemar responds that he is asleep but is about to die.
Valdemar remains in his hypnotic state for months. Allan, the student and the doctor check on Valdemar often to make sure the hypnotic sleep is still in effect. Finally, after months of being asleep Allan attempts to bring Valdemar out of his trance. The results are horrifying.
“Il Caso Valdemar” was released in 1936 and was directed by Gianni Hoepli and Ubaldo Magnaghi. It is a silent Italian horror short and only about twelve minutes long. It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s 1845 story “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”. The film is also believed to be the first “gore film”.
Not much is known about the movie. Neither director has much in the way of a resume when it comes to filmmaking. Director Hoepli also plays the student in the movie. The short is believed to be a sort of art film. The special effects are good considering when the film was made, and the obvious low budget involved. The main draw of the film is the gross ending. Special makeup effects were done by Antonio Marini. “Il Caso Valdemar” was his first film. He went on to do a bunch of movies, including several sword and sandal films.
The film is wobbly and in bad shape. That’s not surprising since it is very old and rather obscure but at only twelve minutes it is an interesting take on the Valdemar story and a peek into Italian cinematic art. The movie does have some interesting camera angles that add a touch of noir horror to the film.
When Poe released his story, he led people to believe that it was true. Eventually Poe admitted that the story was a hoax.