Kurutta ippêji (1926)

Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa [Other horror films: N/A]

I’m a decently consistent guy, or at least I feel like I am. I’m not a fan of experimental films, and never really have been. Kurutta ippêji, better known as A Page of Madness, is certainly experimental, and despite perhaps being an important film, I find it a struggle to get into, and personally just can’t recommend whatsoever.

When it comes to silent films, I have a decent track record of enjoying many of them, and even the ones that are a bit light on traditional horror elements (such as Pikovaya dama), I can give a good shake. There are some experimental silent films I have struggled with – the two that come to mind are La chute de la maison Usher and Schatten – Eine nächtliche Halluzination. I could sort of get into Warning Shadows, because at least I could follow the story, but The Fall of the House of Usher wasn’t easy for me.

And unfortunately, this Japanese film is worse. Part of the problem is that the film doesn’t use intertitles. The aforementioned Warning Shadows didn’t either, but that story was easier to follow, whereas A Page of Madness, while somewhat simple in plot, just felt muddled and confused. To be sure, it was apparently not uncommon for Japanese silent films to eschew the use of intertitles (in Japan, there would have been live narration provided in the theaters by a benshi, or storyteller), but that doesn’t make modern-day consumption of this movie any easier.

Does the film occasionally have striking visuals and interesting use of avant-garde style? Very much so. Even more, Masuo Inoue gave what I imagine to be quite a good performance, despite the fact I didn’t really follow along with the story.

If I’m being honest, though, this was one of the hardest movies I’ve tried to sit through in the last couple of months. It’s perhaps not fair, but it’s true. A Page for Madness is only around an hour and ten minutes, but it felt like three hours, and when I say I almost dozed off at one point, I’m simply relaying facts, not trying to be cruel.

A Page for Madness is worth seeing if you want to see a classic piece of avant-garde, experimental cinema from Asia. I’ve always had a difficult time with experimental films, though – I despise Eraserhead, and always have – and though I’ve seen this Japanese film once and I don’t remember having that bad a time with it, this time around, I just couldn’t do it, fair or not.


Der Hund von Baskerville (1929)

Directed by Richard Oswald [Other horror films: Der Hund von Baskerville, 3. Teil – Das unheimliche Zimmer (1916), Der Hund von Baskerville, 4. Teil (1916), Nächte des Grauens (1917), Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray (1917), Unheimliche Geschichten (1919), Nachtgestalten (1920), Cagliostro – Liebe un Leben eines großen Abenteurers (1929), Unheimliche Geschichten (1932)]

Though this came out 15 years after the 1914 adaptation, I think it’s arguably on equal grounding. Certainly this version of The Hound of the Baskervilles improves on some levels than the earlier silent movie, but at the same time, I think a few things were holding it back from making more of an impact.

One thing I did appreciate was a more traditional version of the story, and by that, I mean the version of the story I’m accustomed to. Here they brought in some elements that were missing from the 1914 version, including Watson and Holmes appearing and then disappearing for a good portion of the story (this classic element of the plot couldn’t have happened in the 1914 version, as, in unique fashion, Holmes actually went to investigate the case without first being summoned by Henry Baskerville, so the classic, “I can’t leave London, but take Watson with you,” line was absent).

Worth mentioning is that while Watson did appear in the 1914 version, he was such a non-entity that he wasn’t even credited.

It’s not that this addition instantly make the movie better, by any means, but it certainly was nice to see, as I was wondering at what point that sub-plot would make it into the movies.

What really gives this film a different and potentially more powerful aura is the strong atmosphere, especially in the opening sequence with the elder Baskerville being terrified of the howls coming from the stormy night, and the group of friends around him mostly laughing the superstitions off. The storm is great, the tension is great, and the film kicks off with such a fantastic atmosphere. I can also add that the black-and-white looked quite crisp, and helped in that endeavor (and yes – while the 1914 version was tinted, this version is in black-and-white).

It should also be said that this version isn’t complete – some sequences are missing, and to get around that, this reconstruction summarizes the missing moments while giving us stills of the characters introduced during those scenes (such as Fritz Rasp’s Stapleton and Betty Bird’s Beryl). Some might be bothered by the missing scenes, and I hope they turn up at some point, but I thought they did a pretty good job working with what they had, and it was certainly more watchable and engaging than the TCM restoration of London After Midnight, so there’s that.

If that’s one last issue I have, it’s that I didn’t care all that much for Carlyle Blackwell, who played Sherlock Holmes (at least in comparison to the 1914’s Alwin Neuß). It’s not that Blackwell gave a particularly poor performance – he most certainly didn’t – but he was younger and a bit more handsome than I usually expect from a Sherlock Holmes, and while far from perfect, I did think the 1914 rendition done by Neuß was better.

No complaints about the rest of the cast, though – playing Stapleton, Fritz Rasp brought a quality quiet insanity with him that wasn’t really in the 1914’s Friedrich Kühne’s version. Obviously Rasp and Kühne were going for different things – Kühne a traditional, mustache-twirling fiend and Rasp a mentally-unstable psychopath – but both had solid respective performances, and here, I thought Rasp did great.

As Henry Baskerville, Livio Pavanelli did decently, though he wasn’t anything special. Playing his love interest was Betty Bird, who did get more character than Baskerville’s love interest in the 1914 version (and that character, Lyons, does appear here, though in a different way), was likewise just okay. The butler Barrymore (Andreas Van Horn in the 1914 movie), played by Valy Arnheim, lost a bit of story that he previously had, but also gained a little something with the added escaped convict on the moors subplot, and Arnheim did well with that.

And lastly, playing Watson, George Seroff was pretty strong throughout most of the film, though his character gets overshadowed by Holmes (as one can naturally expect) by the end, and so he doesn’t leave all that much of an impact.

The conclusion presented here is quite a bit more action-packed than what we got 15 years ago, and it’s all a decent amount of fun (albeit I couldn’t help but notice Watson, as it seems he always is, is treated a bit like a doddering fool at times), and the use of shadows and other film techniques such as flashbacks, slow camera-swivels and close-ups make this film far more technical than what the 1914 version managed (though with a difference of 15 years, one would certainly hope that’s the case).

When all is said and done, Holmes said it best: “Supernatural dogs do not leave footprints,” and while this movie was enjoyable to watch, I can’t say that it’s the pillar of silent horror despite having many strong elements present.


La chute de la maison Usher (1928)

Directed by Jean Epstein [Other horror films: L’auberge rouge (1923)]

This is one of the few remaining silent horror films that I needed to see, and the reason why I hadn’t seen it up until this point was that this French movie (known as The Fall of the House of Usher, based off an Edgar Allan Poe story) is easy to find in it’s native language, but not so much in English.

After finally seeing it – well, let me get something really important out of the way first.

I am delighted that I got to see a version which I could actually read the inter-titles to, but this print was beyond rough. It wasn’t tinted, which wasn’t a big deal (I didn’t even notice until halfway through the movie), but it was extraordinarily blurry, and the English translations weren’t captioned at the bottom, as usual, but superimposed over the existing French inter-titles, which, while functional, was not aesthetically pleasing whatsoever. In fact, it may be one of the roughest silent prints I’ve seen, and you’re reading a guy who sat through Malombra.

Adding to that, the plot here isn’t always clear-cut, and the dubious nature of the print makes quite a bit of this even more difficult to fully grasp. Luckily, while I’ve not read the story in some time, I have seen the 1960 Corman version of the Poe classic, and thus got a bit more out of this than I would have gotten had I gone in not knowing how the story went.

Certainly there are some captivating uses of cinematography here, perhaps the one that comes to mind quickest the seemingly first-person view from the ground to indicate – – – something, I suppose. I didn’t exactly follow that part, but that’s the nature of some 80 year old films.

Even had the print been better, a decent amount of this film felt off. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was experimental, but I do think they didn’t want to go a more traditional route as far as story structure was concerned. As such, no one performance really stuck out to me (Jean Debucourt would be the only one to come close, and he didn’t come that close), and overall, while I would definitely like to give this movie another go with a cleaner print, I had to say that this silent film didn’t really impress me.

Kudos to it being the oldest French horror film I’ve seen, though, so that’s cool. Otherwise, though, even as a fan of silent horror, this didn’t do that much for me at all.


Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)

Directed by F.W. Murnau [Other horror films: Satanas (1920), Der Bucklige und die Tänzerin (1920), Der Januskopf (1920), Schloß Vogelöd (1921) Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage (1926)]

I can’t say for sure, but this may be only the third time I’ve seen this German classic. There’s not a specific reason for this, aside from maybe the fact the print I own on DVD is a bit rough (thanks Mill Creek), but it’s also true that while I enjoy some ideas and aspects about Nosferatu, I’ve never really loved it as a whole.

Throwing in the whole plague sub-plot was a nifty idea, I think. Especially given that I’m writing this while many are still on moderate lock-down due to Covid-19, the diseases’ impact on the characters (while somewhat negligible as far as the story is concerned, and does more to help with the ominous atmosphere, to be honest) brought a bit of reality to the film. That scene in which bodies are being taken out through the narrow streets in particular was an effective one.

Count Orlac himself (played by none other than Max Schreck) didn’t have that much in the way of character, but definitely made his presence known. He was awkward as fuck, but everyone has their vices, and hey, I don’t have a castle in the land of phantoms, thieves, and ghosts, so maybe he’s doing something right. Schreck was great here, be him creeping up stairs or standing ramrod straight in a split second (both highly effective scenes).

I couldn’t help but feel for both Gustav von Wangenheim (who was also in Schattan – Eine nächtliche Halluzination) and Greta Schröder, as both of their characters went through the wringer. I felt legitimately dismayed as Schröder’s unhappiness at being away so long from her husband, and I enjoyed both of their performances, though I do think the ending maybe could have been extrapolated on a bit.

The print I watched this time around was pretty nice (it was on TCM, so could you imagine anything but?), with a nice tint, solid score, and all-around pleasant presentation. I just wished the inter-titles had been in German as opposed to English, but that’s a personal preference which has no impact on my enjoyment.

Overall, I don’t doubt at all that Nosferatu is a classic, and rightfully so. The effects were pretty good for the time, and some scenes, like I said, still increase suspense to this very day. It’s just never been a personal favorite of mine (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was always more my vibe).


Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage (1926)

Directed by F.W. Murnau [Other horror films: Satanas (1920), Der Bucklige und die Tänzerin (1920), Der Januskopf (1920), Schloß Vogelöd (1921) Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)]

Obliviously much more a drama than a horror, Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage still has enough dark elements in it for it to clearly count as horror, which I’m grateful for, because otherwise, I’d probably never have seen this beautiful-looking movie.

The story here is one, of course, of a morality tale, in which Mephisto makes a wager with an angel that he can corrupt Faust, and the angel’s all like “Brah, men are too good to corrupt, I take your wager and if I lose, the world is yours.” And of course, through the tragedy and misery, the grace of God reigns supreme, and because of love, Mephisto’s wager fails.

Now, I can do without all of the religious bullshit, but I admit that I love how some movies back then had the cojones to work within such a strongly fantastical story. Morality tales were the basis of horror films (just look at 1913’s Der Student von Prag), and stories that took place primarily in Hell have too been done (Italy’s 1925 Maciste all’inferno), so a movie like this that deals with a theological wager between two high entities is certainly welcomed. And you know that, if a newer movie did this, it would just look ridiculous, but here, it doesn’t look too shabby at all.

The pleasure of watching silent films is seeing exactly how much they were able to do with the limitations they had, and there are plenty of scenes in this film that really look great, and in fact far more impressive than modern-day special effects. While I do wish the latter half of the story had had more carnage in it (aside from that provided by the religious bigots who were going to burn a woman to death for killing her child, but the only reason that child died was because the religious bigots considered the woman a ‘whore’ and thus she had no support system – just another reason to stand against religious beliefs, I feel), I cannot deny that the special effects here all look stupendous.

Emil Jannings (Die Augen der Mumie Ma and Das Wachsfigurenkabinett) was solid as Mephisto, though there were a few light-hearted scenes surrounding him and a woman who was chasing after him (played by Yvette Guilbert) that I could have done without. As Faust, Gösta Ekman had an expressive and expansive range, and came across very impressively. And as for Camilla Horn – well, let me put it this way: I’m not usually one to find women from older movies attractive, but her – hubba hubba. I mean, she was one smokin’ piece, as the kids say, and her performance too, once the story turned more tragic, was certainly admirable.

Valentin, played by William Dieterle (the aforementioned Das Washsfigurenkabinett being his only other venture into horror) was a solid character, big and strong, until he went after his sister’s lover (after saying, basically, that she should put herself out more) and then calling her a ‘whore’ and also calling for her death. So basically, fuck this guy.

So with a fine cast, amazing special effects, and an interesting set-up, Faust is definitely one of those German classics that people like me sometimes like to bring up. It’s a damn fine piece of cinema, and while it’s not a personal favorite from the silent era for me personally, it’s still very much worth seeing.


The Unknown (1927)

Directed by Tod Browning [Other horror films: London After Midnight (1927), Dracula (1931), Freaks (1932), Mark of the Vampire (1935), The Devil-Doll (1936)]

The Unknown is one of those silent classics that often gets labeled horror when in reality, I feel that’s a harder case to make. I see enough horror here to keep referring to this as such, but it’s definitely much lighter on outright horror than many other silent horror films at the time were.

Plot-wise, it’s a somewhat interesting love story, and of course Lon Chaney has a fantastically expressive face, but aside from the somewhat thrilling conclusion, I don’t think The Unknown necessarily has a whole lot going for it. I mean, of course, there’s a pretty nice psychological feeling here, and there’s a few scenes that are pretty good, but at only 50 minutes, I don’t know it this has ever made an amazing impression on me.

I’ve seen The Unknown quite a few times, and it’s probably one of the silent horror movies I’ve seen the most (the short runtime being one possible reason), but it’s never been one that blew me away. It’s above average, without a doubt (if only because of the strong performances of both Chaney and Joan Crawford), but when it comes to silent horror, I want a bit more than what The Unknown has to offer, and this is far from my go-to, and farther from my recommendations to those delving into silent horror cinema.


The Bells (1926)

The Bells

Directed by James Young [Other horror films: N/A]

I’ve seen this once before many years back, and was rather bored by it. This time around, I was in a better state of mind to enjoy it, though I can’t deny it’s moderately derivative, as this movie doesn’t have much that The Avenging Conscience didn’t bring forth 12 years prior.

Plenty of solid performances can be found here: Lionel Barrymore (this was his first voyage into the horror genre – he later appeared in such classics as Mark of the Vampire and The Devil-Doll) does well here as the innkeeper. He’s a good man put under immense stress, and snaps. It’s easy to both feel pity for his characterization and to abhor his acts. Great with this role, Barrymore pulls it all together. Gustav von Seyffertitz (who we later see in the 1930 classic The Bat Whispers) does well here as a rather unlikable, but ultimately harmless, money-hungry individual.

The innkeeper’s daughter and her soldier lover (played by Lola Todd and Eddie Phillips, respectfully) make a pretty cute couple, though they end up not really being all that relevant to the plot (despite Phillips’ character being charged with finding the murderer). Of perhaps most interest, Boris Karloff makes a few appearances here. Most known for playing the Frankenstein monster in the 1931 classic, he’s been in various horror films from the 1930’s to the early 1970’s. In his first horror role, he plays a mesmerist (taking more than a few cues from Caligari) who, despite his relatively short screen-time, does make quite an impression.

As aforementioned, though, the rough story here can be found earlier in The Avenging Conscience: or, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’, and a few other murder melodramas, where one’s conscience effectively haunts the main character after they commit the ever-sinful act of murder. Despite this, though, I actually thought this film was put together more cohesively than The Avenging Conscience. It certainly looks better, and given it came out ten years later, it does feel a bit more fresh, insofar as cinematography goes.

Many find this just too derivative and perhaps even stale to stand out as a classic of silent cinema. They’re right, in part – The Bells shouldn’t be seen as a classic (especially the version I watched, which had a six-and-a-half minute piece of music looped through the whole hour and ten minute film). However, I think there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had from the solid performances and some of the scenes (including a quick ax to the back, leaving drops of blood on the snow, or the epic dream sequence near the end).

I fully admit I was bored when I first saw this. Luckily, it broke past previous my previous views of the film, and ended up being, while not the best horror film of the 1920’s (or even 1926), a pretty solid watch.


The Last Warning (1928)

The Last Warning

Directed by Paul Leni [Other horror films: Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (1924), The Cat and the Canary (1927), The Man Who Laughs (1928)]

Much like Paul Leni’s previous mystery/horror, The Cat and the Canary, The Last Warning takes a moderately cliché plot (even for the time) and dresses it up in a way that makes the movie a special and enjoyable treat.

While this film contains some comedic portions (just as The Cat and the Canary did), I feel it’s noticeably toned down, and for most of the film, I think the plot’s played pretty straight. Which is only a positive, as this mystery, boasting no less than something like ten possible suspects, has a lot of potential from the beginning, and too much comedy would bring it down. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

As aforementioned, the cast of this film is rather large, all the more to make the mystery identity of the killer more fun to figure out. It wasn’t uncommon to see five, six, as much as ten or eleven, characters all in a single shot. Of course, trying to keep track of everyone throughout the film is close to impossible, but it still helped out the feeling of pandemonium, especially toward the end (during a deeply enjoyable chase sequence).

Laura La Plante (who also starred in The Cat and the Canary) didn’t get as much screen-time as you might hope, but still played her character sympathetically (which, given how unlikable she was at the beginning, was sort of necessary). Her love interest, played by John Boles (who later appeared in Frankenstein), was quite competent in his role. As most of the cast members were. In fact, all of the follow actors and actresses stood out positively as their roles: Montagu Love, Margaret Livingston, Roy D’Arcy, Burr McIntosh, Mack Swain, Bert Roach, and Carrie Daumery. Perhaps, out of all these names, the true standouts are Love, Livingston, and McIntosh.

Perhaps one of the reasons I like this film as much as I do (when I first saw it years back, I was quite happy, and luckily this rewatch hasn’t changed that) is because of the large amount of suspects. True, given the film is only an hour and 17 minutes, there’s not enough time to flesh out every single character and potential motivation (which, while in theory would be welcomed, it more likely than not would come out dull), but still, it’s the thought that counts. The mystery was fun, more fun than many old dark house flicks (since this film takes place in a dilapidated theater house, the setting made it even more unique), and certainly still comes across as strong.

The most common print for this movie is far from perfect, with a very scratchy feel, and general lack of great preservation, but at the same time, in this case, I think it helps give the movie additional character. It does help, though, that the score is mostly solid, without any real issues.

The Last Warning is a favorite of mine from the silent era, and sadly, I think it’s mostly overlooked. The Cat and the Canary and Waxworks are both far more widely-known Leni films, and how many other silent flicks are more well-known than this one? From Nosferatu to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, from The Phantom of the Opera to The Bat, The Last Warning has sort of been overlooked (not as badly as 1926’s Midnight Faces, sure, but The Last Warning is, at least, a Leni movie), which is a great shame. Leni died in 1929 due to blood poisoning, and did fantastic things for the genre, and his final movie is no less a great addition to horror.


The Man Who Laughs (1928)

man laugh

Directed by Paul Leni [Other horror films: Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (1924), The Cat and the Canary (1927), The Last Warning (1928)]

Directed by Paul Leni, The Man Who Laughs is a masterfully moody, occasionally tragic, piece of melodrama, with a few spices of horror thrown in.

The historical nature of the plot did the movie well, as the set pieces and costumes all looked rather authentic. The brooding nature of the story was well-done too, helped by the score, which, while not perfect, felt as though it could have been the score when first this movie came out, over ninety years ago.

It’s the actors who should get the most accolades, though; Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin, Brandon Hurst, Cesare Gravina, and George Siegmann all make this movie a film well worth watching.

Veidt, by this point, may need no introduction. He was in a plethora of silent horror classics, including Furcht (or Fear, from 1917), Unheimliche Geschichten (Eerie Tales, 1919), Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920), Orlacs Hände (The Hands of Orlac, 1924), Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (Waxworks, 1924), Der Student von Prag (The Student of Prague, 1926), and The Last Performance (from 1929). That’s not even counting the unfortunately-lost Der Januskopf (The Head of Janus, 1920), which was an unauthorized version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (much like Nosferatu was to Dracula).

Conrad Veidt got around, and it’s clear, from this movie, to see how. He possessed an extraordinarily emotional range, and his character, the tragic figure of Gwynplaine, was very well-acted. Throughout the film, Veidt’s performance is truly a treat to watch.

Philbin wasn’t in all that many films, but she did co-star in the 1925 Phantom of the Opera, with Lon Chaney, and again, with Veidt, in the 1929 The Last Performance. Here, she plays a beautiful blind woman, named Dea, who is deeply in love with Gwynplaine, despite never having seen his disfigured face. Playing her role convincingly, Philbin stood out strong.

Brandon Hurst, who had small roles in various early horror flicks (such as 1932’s Murders in the Rue Morgue, 1923’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1920’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and 1932’s White Zombie) gets credit for playing one of the slimiest silent characters with his portrayal of Barkilphedro. Sinister, yet suave, Hurst did well in showing the sleaziness of his character throughout the whole of the film, and from his very first scene, you can’t help but hold Barkilphedro in abhorrence.

Gravina isn’t much known outside of this movie. He had a few uncredited roles in classics like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera (1923 and 1925), and mainly dabbled in early Italian shorts. Here, he doesn’t get a whole lot of screen-time, but during one scene in particular, his performance broke my heart. Such sad, moving scenes generally aren’t what I’d expect from silent films, but that one just killed me.

Siegmann, who I spoke about also in my review for The Cat and the Canary, isn’t that big a name insofar as horror is concerned, though he did appear in the 1909 short The Sealed Room and 1914’s The Avenging Conscience. Here, he played Dr. Hardquanonne, a rather sadistic individual who disfigured Gwynplaine. I wish that he got more screen-time than he did, because like Hurst, he was a dark force to be reckoned with, but still, this being his final role before his early death, Siegmann did quite well.

The cast of this movie is amazing, and the film, as a whole, is an atmospheric, moody piece of art. While it would be unfair to call it a horror film in the purest definition, The Man Who Laughs is a dark classic, and while the ending is not nearly as tragic as one might expect, there are plenty of sad scenes throughout. I didn’t really appreciate this when I first saw it, and even now, it makes a better drama film than a horror film, without a doubt, but even so, this Leni classic is one that any movie fan should look out for.


The Cat and the Canary (1927)

Cat and the Canary

Directed by Paul Leni [Other horror films: Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (1924), The Man Who Laughs (1928), The Last Warning (1928)]

A classic of silent cinema for a reason, The Cat and the Canary is a wonderfully-made dark house horror-comedy mix that stands up to this day.

Directed by Paul Leni (Waxworks, The Man Who Laughs, and The Last Warning being his greatest additions to horror besides this), The Cat and the Canary is a very well-done and atmospheric movie, which certainly feels as though it possesses the artistic flair of Leni’s previous Waxworks. The comedy isn’t too pervasive (though one gag does run a little long), and it’s even moderately welcomed at times (the line “I thought I had an appointment, now I’m sure of it” still got a kick out of me).

This silent flick has a lot of flair to it. The inter-titles are cleverly used to indicate mood (shaky text when one is scared, all caps when someone shouts, etc.), and the setting of an old, dark mansion was fun. As was the plot – who doesn’t like a good will-reading, old, dark house mystery, and a killer known as The Cat? Toward the end, when everyone was running around doing their own things, it amazed me how much action a silent movie was able to emulate. And I do mean silent. The print I happened to see this time around had no score, but unlike most silent films, that didn’t really seem to take anything away from the movie. It was still suspenseful when suspense was called for, so it worked out well.

The cast was pretty solid throughout. Laura La Plante (who is also in Leni’s 1928 The Last Warning) did fantastic as the main woman, who everyone thought was going insane. Creighton Hale (who starred also in Seven Footprints to Satan, 1929), who started off a comic relief character, slowly became the hero of the film, and held his own against the killer toward the end of the movie is a show of bravery. Though Tully Marshall wasn’t onscreen for that long a period of time, he also stood out positively.

Martha Mattox, who played a grim housekeeper to great effect, was another solid performance. Mattox, coincidentally, appeared in a couple of early 30’s films I really liked (Murder by the Clock from 1931 and The Monster Walks from 1932) before her early death at 53 in 1933. George Siegmann, like Marshall, only appeared a handful of times, but was also pretty solid. Siegmann, like many of the others I’ve mentioned, has a history with silent horror, not only appearing in Leni’s next movie, The Man Who Laughs from 1928, but also appeared back in 1914’s The Avenging Conscience. As it turns out, Siegmann died in 1928, so The Man Who Laughs would be his final movie.

Lastly, playing a seemingly-sinister doctor, Lucien Littlefield did fantastic. Unfortunately, he only appears toward the tail-end of the film, but it’s still solid enough to stand out.

The Cat and the Canary is a silent horror flick with style, and while I admit I didn’t care for it much the first time I saw it (many years ago, when I was something like 14 or 15), it certainly comes across a far more enjoyable movie now, and is a highlight of the 1920’s.