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  1. #1
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    Silent Horror Films - Anyone a fan?

    As one may imagine, I love horror through-and-through. Like most horror fans, I'm not tied down to a single sub genre or time-frame, which makes finding interesting movies both easier and, well, more interesting.

    Silent horror films are something that I don't see discussed much on the forums I've been on in the past, and wanted to see who else here might be a fan. I was just going to go over a few of my favorite silent horror films, and see if anyone bites.


    Der Student von Prag (1913) - One of the first full-length horror films, this German movie about a man and his doppelganger isn't perfect. The story is decently interesting, and the performances good, but really, this movie should be seen for what it represents more so than the content.

    Pikovaya dama (1916) - This is a Russian film prior to the formation of the USSR, which is interesting enough. The story, to me, drags a bit toward the middle of the movie, but it stands out when thinking of the silent horror films I've seen.

    Unheimliche Geschichten (1919) - To my knowledge, this is the oldest-existing anthology horror film. While it contains some decent stories, many of the others fall flat (though does a better job at the horror aspect than 1924's Das Wachsfigurenkabinett). Still, a decently solid early German film.

    Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (1920) - This movie, if you find the right print, it utterly beautiful. The set pieces are fantastic, and the story (oppressed Jews create a Golem that goes on a rampage) is top-notch. Though it suffers from both over-acting and potential anti-Semitism, this is one I recommend to those who haven't seen it.

    Schloß Vogelöd (1921) - Though counted more often as mystery than horror, this movie is a fun romp, not too-far removed from The Cat and the Canary (1927) or The Bat Whispers (1930). Plus, the setting of the castle, while cheap at times, does strike me as pretty cool.

    Häxan (1922) - This movie is more well-known, and for good reason. Split into seven parts, Haxan is half-documentary, half-original story, about the history of witchcraft. It's a bit difficult to explain in full, but if you're a silent horror fan, and have not seen this one yet, I'd recommend looking into it.

    Schatten - Eine nächtliche Halluzination (1923) - This one is more a point of interest than an actual good film. Unlike any other movie I've seen, this focuses primarily on shadows, with no text to back it up (or if originally there was some, it's gone from most prints). It has a very ominous feel to it, and while the story itself may not be amazing, the feel of the film is pretty top-notch.

    Maciste all’inferno (1925) - One of the oldest Italian horror films I'm aware of, Maciste all'inferno is a fun story of the Devil attempting to corrupt a man's mortality. Though more based in fantasy, the depictions of Hell are pretty frantic and terrifying. Plus, the color and tints used make the movie more effective. A lesser-known gem.

    Midnight Faces (1926) - Midnight Faces is quite similar to The Bat (from the same year) and the Cat and the Canary. While I recommend both those films also, Midnight Faces is a bit more muddled in obscurity, potentially because the film's so short (less than an hour). The story is not wholly original, and some portions are a bit too steeped in comedy, but I think it's a fine movie.

    The Magician (1926) - I'll be honest, it's been a few years since I've seen this, but I noticed that I rated it highly on IMDb. From what I remember, it was a short but sweet romp, with a fun plot. Other than that, I've nothing to say.

    Seven Footprints to Satan (1929) - The ending notwithstanding, this movie is a fantastic and wacky story worth seeing. A man is kidnapped before he can travel abroad, and taken to a house where strange and fantastic things happen. The ending was a bit of a let-down, but overall, this is a solid film.

    The Last Warning (1929) - The last film directed by Paul Leni (also directed the aforementioned Das Wachsfigurenkabinett and The Man Who Laughs), this movie has the spirit of a slasher that came fifty years too early. In it, a producer tries to reopen a theater five years after a cast member of a play was killed. Getting together the original cast, they plan to stage a production of the same play, when people start getting killed. With the spirit of a slasher film, The Last Warning is a fantastic movie. You can sometimes find it on YouTube, and if you can, I highly recommend it. Dang fine film.


    Anyway, while I didn't discuss The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922), Körkarlen (1921), or Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920), I recommend those movies also, especially if you're maybe a beginner when it comes to the silent classics.

    I hope this thread is located in the right location, and hope the topic hasn't been over-discussed.

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  2. #2
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    My silent horror film repertoire is seriously lacking. I'll bookmark your rec's for future viewing...

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    Sure thing. They can be difficult to get into for some people, but I find them rewarding. Let me know what you think if and when you find the time to see any of these.

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    hey Jigsaw, I do like silent movies but don't think they are automatically better than talkies. Some are rather slow and can drag. And there are some I'm not really impressed with. While visually good and atmospheric Murnau's movies can't really charm me that much. I have seen Schloß Vogelöd, Nosferatu and Faust of him. Der Golem is not from him but it fits a bit in the same mold IMO.
    Have not seen all the ones you mentioned. From the ones you have elaborated on I think Häxan is the best even though it's more of a docu than an actual movie.

    Among my favorites are:
    Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
    The Hands of Orlac
    The Phantom of the Opera
    The Hunchback of the Notre Dame
    The Cat and the Canary
    The Man Who Laughs

    And while not really horror I do think The Bat, The Penalty and Sparrows are very good with some real dark elements.
    There is also a silent version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde which is worth a watch I think and The Unknown (1927).

    edit: is your avatar from Mr. Sardonicus?

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    Last edited by Johan_Wondering_on_Waves; 02-04-2017 at 05:07 PM.

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    As with many other boards silent films have been discussed, but haven't gone into any great depth on them, and even if they had been, having new blood to the forum could also bring new insights to these and many other films. Looking through your list there are several I've never heard of, and I will start looking for them. Many I have seen before, but it's been such a long time that it may be time to revisit to all of them.

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    Like, so many people out there were trying to track this down. And it just...got delivered on a tweet. What the hell.






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    Oh, I didn't mean to imply that I thought silent movies were better - I think both silent films and talkies can be fantastic. In fact, most of my favorite horror movies are from the 1970's and 1980's.

    I've not actually seen the Hands of Orlac yet. I've been meaning to, it's just one of those movies that I keep letting slip out of my grasps. Heard mostly positive things, though.

    Not having heard of Sparrows, it looks to be a delightfully dark, potentially ominous movie. I'll give it a go when I can.

    I've seen the Barrymore Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), but not the Lewis version from the same year (it seems far harder to locate). Truth be told, while the Barrymore version is a fine movie, I was never that interested in the story as a whole. Not my cup of tea, I suppose. I agree, though; The Unknown is another good movie, and always reminds me of Freaks (1932) due to the circus similarity.

    And yes, the avatar's Mr. Sardonicus. I rather love William Castle movies, and while Mr. Sardonicus wasn't his best, I thought it was a top-notch movie. Also makes for a good avatar. :p

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    Quote Originally Posted by Necromancer View Post
    As with many other boards silent films have been discussed, but haven't gone into any great depth on them, and even if they had been, having new blood to the forum could also bring new insights to these and many other films. Looking through your list there are several I've never heard of, and I will start looking for them. Many I have seen before, but it's been such a long time that it may be time to revisit to all of them.
    Indeed, that's true. I did list some that were a bit out there, to be sure, but I stand by my recommendations of them, if silent films are your type of thing.

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  8. #8
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    As you can tell by my username, I'm a big fan of the original Nosferatu (the best vampire film ever made). I haven't seen many silent films, though. The Man Who Laughs is really good. I've also seen The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and one Alfred Hitchcock did called Blackmail. Can't forget Metropolis, either, even though it's not a horror film but it influenced so many films after it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CountOrlok View Post
    As you can tell by my username, I'm a big fan of the original Nosferatu (the best vampire film ever made). I haven't seen many silent films, though. The Man Who Laughs is really good. I've also seen The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and one Alfred Hitchcock did called Blackmail. Can't forget Metropolis, either, even though it's not a horror film but it influenced so many films after it.
    Nosferatu's a great movie, as long as you can find a good print of it. :p

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    Quote Originally Posted by JigsawX View Post
    I've not actually seen the Hands of Orlac yet. I've been meaning to, it's just one of those movies that I keep letting slip out of my grasps. Heard mostly positive things, though.
    Well don't know if you have seen Mad Love (1934) but that is another version of the novel. I do prefer the silent movie though.


    Quote Originally Posted by JigsawX View Post
    I've seen the Barrymore Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), but not the Lewis version from the same year (it seems far harder to locate). Truth be told, while the Barrymore version is a fine movie, I was never that interested in the story as a whole. Not my cup of tea, I suppose. I agree, though; The Unknown is another good movie, and always reminds me of Freaks (1932) due to the circus similarity.
    Agree about Unknown and Freaks. I think the dwarf from the Unknown also stars in Freaks. I wasn't aware there were 2 silent versions of Dr. jekyll in the same year. I'm not sure which version I have seen actually. I remember a rather freaky spider scene.


    Quote Originally Posted by JigsawX View Post
    And yes, the avatar's Mr. Sardonicus. I rather love William Castle movies, and while Mr. Sardonicus wasn't his best, I thought it was a top-notch movie. Also makes for a good avatar. :p
    I really like Mr. Sardonicus too, not many movies about ghouls in the true sense of the word (a graverobber). There is the Body Snatcher too but it's rather different. I really love Castle's movie Homicidal a lot too.

    Quote Originally Posted by CountOrlok View Post
    Alfred Hitchcock did called Blackmail.
    that reminds me of another silent Hitch directed "The Lodger". It's also more of a thriller but I loved it.

    Quote Originally Posted by CountOrlok View Post
    Can't forget Metropolis, either, even though it's not a horror film but it influenced so many films after it.
    Essential to watch I think when you like sci-fi. The effects still amaze me now. And the story still has a strong message.

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    Last edited by Johan_Wondering_on_Waves; 02-04-2017 at 06:54 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johan_Wondering_on_Waves View Post
    Well don't know if you have seen Mad Love (1934) but that is another version of the novel. I do prefer the silent movie though.
    Have indeed seen Mad Love. Personally, I think it's one of Lorre's best (though not to say he wasn't fun in Beast with Five Fingers).


    Quote Originally Posted by Johan_Wondering_on_Waves View Post
    I really like Mr. Sardonicus too, not many movies about ghouls in the true sense of the word (a graverobber). There is the Body Snatcher too but it's rather different. I really love Castle's movie Homicidal a lot too.
    Too true. I liked The Body Snatcher (and also 1960's The Flesh and the Fiends, with both Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasence). Also one from 1985 called The Doctor and the Devils. But you're right, it's a sadly barren sub-genre of horror.

    Onto Castle, though, indeed, Homicidal is a great movie (even if it is partially a Psycho rip-off). I mean, the guy directed House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, and 13 Ghosts, so he's a real legend. Even some of his more forgotten flicks like Strait-Jacket (1964) and Macabre (1958, I think) are good.

    Actually, out of all I've seen from Castle, the only one I didn't like was The Old Dark House remake, from 1963, I think. A bit too comedic and offbeat for me.

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  12. #12
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    Fantastic list and great topic. Most of my favorites are the German expressionist films like Calagari and The Gole. Murnau's Nosferatu and Faust are both visually amazing as well. I'm going to have to seek out many from that list of yours.

    I wasn't a huge fan of Haxan, it seemed to drag for me.

    Another I'd like to add on is Edison's Frankenstein (1910) It's a short movie but has great special effects and an killer character design. I'm actually in the middle of a book about the making of it right now.

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    "Fools believe bullshit without evaluation. Fools believe bullshit without reason, because they like the story or they want to fit in. Fools believe bullshit that has no scientific basis, or in some cases, directly conflicts with scientific knowledge. But foolishness can be cured. We have all been fools at one time or another, and intelligent people learn from their foolish mistakes and try not to make them again." - Dave Silverman

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    Interesting, I've long-heard of the 1910 Frankenstein, and have flipped through it a few times, but truth be told, most shorts were never my thing.

    Sounds like a fun and informative book, though.

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JigsawX View Post
    Interesting, I've long-heard of the 1910 Frankenstein, and have flipped through it a few times, but truth be told, most shorts were never my thing.

    Sounds like a fun and informative book, though.
    https://www.amazon.com/Edisons-Frank...s+frankenstein

    The beginning of the book about Edison's film company is probably the most interesting part.

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    "Fools believe bullshit without evaluation. Fools believe bullshit without reason, because they like the story or they want to fit in. Fools believe bullshit that has no scientific basis, or in some cases, directly conflicts with scientific knowledge. But foolishness can be cured. We have all been fools at one time or another, and intelligent people learn from their foolish mistakes and try not to make them again." - Dave Silverman

    All You Need is Blood - The Official UHM Horror Podcast

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    Quote Originally Posted by strtfghtr View Post
    https://www.amazon.com/Edisons-Frank...s+frankenstein

    The beginning of the book about Edison's film company is probably the most interesting part.
    I'll bookmark that and give it a look when I'm able - thanks for sharing.

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