011: Silent Horror

In this At the Flicks Short, Jeff returns to his favourite movie genre, Horror. He investigates Cinemas origins and silent era for early influences.

In this At the Flicks Short, Jeff returns to his favourite movie genre, Horror. He goes back to the very beginning of Cinema to look at the origins of the horror movie in the silent era.

Below are a number of YouTube videos from the silent era that Jeff mentions in this Short.

The Very first Horror: Le Manoir Du Diable (1897)

The very first horror film – Le Manoir Du Diable by Georges Melies, made in 1896. It goes under various titles, the literal translation is The House Of The Devil, whereas in America it was called the Haunted Castle and in the UK, The Devil’s Castle. What limited plot it had for its brief running time involved the devil almost jokingly tormenting a pair of cavaliers. In fact at one point the devil turns into a bat, technically making this the first vampire movie – and don’t forget this was the year before the novel Dracula was published. Amazingly the film still exists. 

Le Squelette Joyeux (1897)

The Lumiere Brothers, also French founding fathers of cinema made such fantasy films as Le Squelette Joyeux (1897), translated as the Merry Skeleton. This is only 40 seconds long and shows a dancing skeleton falling apart and putting itself back together again. 

Frankenstein (1910)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1912)

The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari (1920)

The version is a fantastic restored one, with the colour tinting added back in. Well worth an hour of anyone’s time.

Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu has all the elements of German expressionism, as can be seen in the sets and the lighting. The lead character, Count Orlok as played by Max Shreck is an unforgettable monster of evil. The ending is also one of the greats of horror cinema. This film has great depth, reflecting the time in which it was made. The sequences of rats bringing plague across the German town when Orlok arrives, brings back the horror of the Spanish Flu of 1918.

Lon Chaney: The First Horror Movie Star

Mr Chaney started as a theatre actor before going to film. Back in the early days of silent cinema, there were no make up artists – instead many of the actors who came from the theatre brought their tradition of doing their own stage makeup. Lon Chaney, it turns out, was one of the early greats of makeup effects. His greatest performances were as The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and The Phantom Of The Opera.

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1923)