The Devil's Photographer: William Mortensen and Hollywood (feat. "West of Zanzibar")

Co-presented by FERAL HOUSE

Live musical score by regular Cinefamily accompanist Cliff Retallick. The evening includes an intro and book signing by author Larry Lytle and an exhibition of previously unseen William Mortenson prints/artifacts on the back patio!

To celebrate the rediscovery of the transgressive and groundbreaking photographer William Mortenson through the release of two new Feral House books (Command to Look and American Grotesque), it’s an evening honoring the strange legacy of the artist Ansel Adams called “The Antichrist,” along with a special 35mm screening of the creepy-crazy Lon Chaney gem West of Zanzibar. With young actress Fay Wray (King Kong) under his wing, Mortensen began his career shooting portraits of leading screen stars, and collaborating with directors Cecil B. DeMille and Tod Browning. Using radical photo techniques that prefigure the digital age, Mortensen created wild images of the occult, horror, beasts and human monstrosities, along with sensuous nudes and character studies. The unholy trinity of Chaney, Browning and Mortenson combined their visions of the grotesque to create the Pre-Code West of Zanzibar, one of the most bizarre silent features ever filmed: a wild-spirited, deliciously convoluted jungle revenge picture, with Chaney as a legless man with a twenty-year settle to score.
West of Zanzibar Dir. Tod Browning, 1928, 35mm, 65 min.