If you've never heard of Fury of the Demon (La Rage du Démon), you're not alone. The silent French film, which may or may not exist, was allegedly made in 1897, and is rumored to be among the most overwhelming cinematic experiences ever. If mythology is to be believed, it exists in the rarefied company of cursed horror movies (and movies that drive people insane). It's a legendary picture, discussed only in hushed tones by those who haven't, and may never, see it. Much like similarly legendary London at Midnight, Fury of the Demon is a lost movie, and one that may only exist in the crazed minds of those subject to a curse created by a shadowy cult figure named Victor Sicarius.
Rumors of Fury of the Demon's existence picked up traction in the 2010s. It's the subject of a film of the same name, Fury of the Demon, which screened at festivals in 2016 and was released in theaters in 2017, and which may be little more than an exercise in myth making. Such is the nature of cinema - it makes myths about everything, even itself.
There have been many movies that made viewers sick, but, if the tales spun about Fury of the Demon are to be believed, none have had the profound impact of the short, which may or may not have been made by Georges Méliès. The 2017 film Fury of the Demon claims the original picture was screened on three infamous occasions; at each of these screenings, it's rumored to have made audience members lash out violently. While art has been known to spark a riot or two every now and again, it usually isn't the work of demonic forces. Fury of the Demon, on the other hand, is rumored to have deep ties to the occult, and the alleged curse on it can drive the viewer insane.
If all of this weren't enough, the movie about Fury of the Demon is also shrouded in mystery. It's purportedly a dense, mesmerizing film, yet runs only 60 minutes, despite the 100+ years of history covered. Reviewers remain confused as to why it's so short, and suggest it feels much longer than it runs (in a good way).
According to those who claim to have attended one of three rumored public screenings of Fury of the Demon, the film drives its audience to insanity, making them commit acts of violence. Subjects interviewed in the 2017 film Fury of the Demon tell of the theater devolving into a scene like a prison riot.
Says a man identified as Randy Wellington, an alleged colleague of Edgar A. Wallace, who purportedly arranged the 2012 screening of the film, "I've never seen anything like it. We weren't expecting the reaction to be so violent. People were screaming, they were shouting, they were trying to kill each other."
Film critic Phillipe Rouyer, another alleged attendee of the rumored 2012 screening, said
I don't even know how I managed to get out [of the theater]. It's all a blur in my head. I can't figure out what happened.
Perhaps the most ominous warning comes from a woman identified as psychologist Marie-Helene Dache, who claimed, "Everybody was affected by this hateful craze, which spread like a virus."
If you called Georges Méliès one of the fathers of cinema, no one would argue with you. The guy created A Trip to The Moon. In fact, it's believed Méliès made around 520 films between 1896 and 1912, during the process of which he pioneered several genres, including science fiction and horror, with shorts like The House of the Devil (1896), The Cave of the Demons (1898), and The Devil in a Convent (1900).
Many of Méliès's works are lost. The most delicious morsel of rumor swirling around Fury of the Demon is that it was directed by none other than Méliès, a man seen by many as a wizard of the cinema. How perfect would it be if one of countless undiscovered films by the great magus of movies was a work of unrivaled madness capable of driving its audience insane?
The 2017 film Fury of the Demon makes the case that the original picture is the work of Victor Sicarius, an enigmatic and violent protégé to Méliès. Sicarius allegedly had deep ties to the occult. But he is more a shadow than a man; there's no hard evidence of his existence, only rumors.
A piece on Fury of the Demon published by Screen Anarchy describes Sicarius as "a Faustian character who frequented underground saloons where the drinks were served on coffins, and was possibly responsible for the murder a girlfriend before disappearing himself."