Highly Anticipated Dead Still Delivers October 6th
The Booth Brothers’ new movie Dead Still focuses on the Victorian practice of taking mourning portraits. Main character Brandon Davis, played by Ben Browder, inherits the antique camera previously owned by his great-grandfather who took photographs of recently deceased people. Popular in America and Europe, postmortem photography were a form of memento mori.
Translated as “remember thy death,” memento mori is artwork capturing death, either literally or figuratively. Drawing, carvings, paintings, and eventually photography depicted dead people or the personification of death through symbols. Death is unavoidable. By remembering we ultimately die, we live.
Around 1840, wealthy families were able to hire photographers to capture the deaths of loved ones. Popular from 1840-1860, daguerreotypes provided developed images on thin sheets of silver-plated copper. Within the next two decades, advances in photographic development made personal photography affordable. By the 1860s, tintypes replaced daguerreotypes. Middle-class families were able to summon photographers to their homes to take mourning photographs. These pictures were often the only tangible reminders of their family members. These pictures were meant to be private and viewed only by the family.
Photographers portrayed the dead person as if still alive. These “postures of life” incorporated symbols of death. Roses held downward, flowers with stems broken, morning glories, pocket watches, and children’s toys were some of the items staged with the dead person. The photographer took photos close-up or full-length capturing either the profile or full-face of the dead person. Often the eyes were closed; however, some photographers painted “eyes” on top of the eyelids. The viewer was directly confronted with the dead person. Later, large floral arrangements were used to lessen the impact. Children and infants comprised the bulk of the work because of high mortality rates. Most of the surviving postmortem photographs are of infants and children.
The popularity of postmortem photography declined as morticians and funeral homes undertook more of the burial duties. However, small ethnic communities still partake in this practice.
The Booth Brothers purchased an antique camera and decided to make it the focal point of their next film. The camera is a gorgeous prop—and still operational. The camera sits atop a beautifully crafted stand. In the movie, the camera is passed down through a family and eventually being used for wedding portraits. However, members of bridal parties start dying soon after their photography was taken. Ultimately, Brandon’s son becomes trapped inside the camera taken to an alternate dimension. This area is home to “The Negative” and “The Hidden Mother.” Set your DVR and TiVo to record Dead Still, Monday, October 6th at 9 pm EST. Then tune in to Archer Paranormal Radio as the API Gals discuss the movie and their favorite Booth Brothers’ productions.