For this, our final Silent Sunday, I am once more digging into the history of German cinema for a delightful treat from 1920. This is The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
I could go into depth about how this film is a surrealist nightmare that delves into insanity and still causes discomfort with its startling visuals. If you have never seen this film and consider yourself a film connoisseur, you will be glad to watch this. German cinema gave us the horror film, and this is a prime example of how and why. With no real “monster” to speak of this film delivers a deep seated terror that few modern films can surpass.
Click on the cover below to obtain a copy and read below for the official synopsis.
Synopsis: In 1920, one brilliant movie jolted the postwar masses and catapulted the movement known as German Expressionism into film history. That movie was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a plunge into the mind of insanity that severs all ties with the rational world. Director Robert Wiene and a visionary team of designers crafted a nightmare realm in which light, shadow and substance are abstracted, a world in which a demented doctor and a carnival sleepwalker perpetrate a series of ghastly murders in a small community. This authoritative edition of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 4K restoration scanned from the (mostly) preserved camera negative at the German Federal Film Archive.
I realize that I did an entire week of classics, but today’s film deserves a mention at any time. Even if you have never seen this film, you are very aware of the monster, in fact, I would bet that you know it as the definitive version. Today, I bring to you Frankenstein. Universal started their monster legacy with Dracula with Frankenstein closely on its heels. Most copies of the original version have the filmed opening by Edward Van Sloan, wherein he warns the audience. This was done because during the original screening, people fainted in their seats.
This film is easily a classic and deserves its iconic status. We have already covered The Bride of Frankenstein here. While the sequel is an amazing piece of cinema, it is a different beast than the original. In this first film, we see the driven doctor wanting so badly to play with the forces of life itself. After his success, he is ashamed of the violent nature of his creation and chains the creature. Boris Karloff’s performance as the monster, the pitiable beast shunned by its maker, is what you should watch this for. From his earliest moments, seeking sunshine and warmth, to his last frightened frames within a windmill, Karloff brings a sense of pathos to a monster that is more than just a horrible exterior.
Click below to pick up the entire Legacy collection featuring all 8 films of the original series. The official synopsis is listed below the cover.
Synopsis: Boris Karloff is the screen’s most memorable creature in the story of Dr. Frankenstein, who tampers with life and death when he pieces together salvaged body parts to create a human monster.
On this the second of our Monster Mondays, during classics week, I thought I would tackle a different sort of monster than the often thought of creature feature. I’m going very old school with this one, in fact, I’m going to a film that is actually a sequel in a six film series. Yes, you heard that right, a six-film series from back in the day. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Bride of Frankenstein.
Plans for this film were started immediately following the release of the 1931 Frankenstein, although this iconic lady would not see the silver screen until 1935. Colin Clive and Boris Karloff would return to play Doctor Frankenstein and his shambling monstrosity. Once again the make-up was done by famous monster maker Jack Pierce (who created the iconic look of the monster, his bride, and the Wolf Man). Borrowing from a subplot from the original novel, Bride is one of the few sequels that is considered an equal or to have surpassed the original. I would give this film a watch to see Karloff’s performance as the original monster.
Fans of Young Frankenstein will recognize several of the set pieces and scenes, as having been spoofed by Mel Brooks. Today, I’m not just linking to this film, but an entire Universal Monster’s set, because these are must haves for horror fans and fans of classic cinema. Not to mention it also comes with Frankenstein if you’ve not seen it. The Bride is also the only monster not in the first film in the series that is considered to be one of the Universal Monsters as you can see by her inclusion on the cover below. Click the image below to pick it up and read below for the synopsis of the Bride.
Synopsis: In one of the most popular horror films of all time, The Bride of Frankenstein, Boris Karloff reprises his role as the silver screen’s most misunderstood monster who now longs for a mate. Continuing exactly where the original left off, the critically acclaimed sequel introduces Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) as a deranged scientist who forces Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) to help him create a companion for the monster. Once again directed by James Whale and adapted from Mary Shelley’s classic novel, the sequel features outstanding makeup and special effects, instantly making the Bride of Frankenstein (Elsa Lanchester) one of the most recognizable monsters of all time.