Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|American Silent Horror Collection |
The Man Who Laughs/The Penalty/The Cat and the Canary/Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde/Kingdom of Shadows
Actor: Lon Chaney John Barrymore Conrad Veidt Mary Philbin Laura La Plante
Director: Paul Leni Wallace Worsley
Genres: Classics, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
4 Horror Gems from the silent era plus an original documentary. THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928) DIRECTED BY PAUL LENI STARRING CONRAD VEIDT & MARY PHILBIN - Paul Leni's adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel tells the sto... more »
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Great collection of silent horror films for a good price
calvinnme | 08/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just in time for Halloween Kino seems to be delivering a heavily discounted set of silent horror films. One is new to DVD, one is a new Kino DVD release, and the rest Kino has had around for some time at much higher individual prices than if you buy this collection. First some quibbling with the product details as currently displayed. The description I've seen says there are 5 discs, not 4. Also, I don't know where the run time of 70 minutes is coming from since each included movie is a feature-length film from the 1920's with the exception of "Kingdom of Shadows", which is a 1998 feature-length documentary about silent horror. Included is:
1. The Man Who Laughs (1928) - directed by Paul Leni. A boy, Gwynplaine, is punished for the deeds of his disobedient nobleman father by having a permanent smile carved into his face. He is left for dead, but survives. He rescues an orphaned infant girl, raises her, and becomes a clown. As the baby grows to adulthood, Gwynplaine's feelings toward her turn to love. However, he refuses to marry her because of his appearance. Meanwhile, a jester learns of Gwynplaine's true identity and informs the queen. Gwynplaine inspired the character of The Joker in the Batman comic series.
2. The Penalty (1920) - starring Lon Chaney. Chaney plays Blizzard, whose legs were needlessly amputated when he was a child. He overhears the doctors all agree to lie to cover up the mistake, and he grows up an embittered criminal out for revenge. The end takes a strange twist and is somewhat dissatisfying, but the first 80% of the film is great.
3. The Cat and the Canary (1927) - directed by Paul Leni. This is the Kino DVD debut of this film, and it will be available separately. A wealthy man's fortune is to go to the only heir left with his name - Annabelle - as long as she can be found to be sane. The person who is second in line is known only to the lawyer in possession of the will, who mysteriously disappears before he can make that person's name known. Numerous other events point to Annabelle perhaps being insane after all.
4. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) - starring John Barrymore. Later film adaptations may have been technically better, but Barrymore is the definitive Jekyll and Hyde through the strength of his range as an actor.
5. Kingdom of Shadows - a 1998 documentary narrated by Rod Steiger making its debut on DVD. Its subject is the development of horror cinema from the birth of film to the end of the silent era. The documentary includes some stunning imagery via film clips from Nosferatu, The Golem, Haxan, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Faust, and many others. The bad part of this documentary is the annoying narration. Steiger whispers and mumbles throughout and even does so during the playing of the film clips, which can be quite distracting."
American SIlent Horror Classics to brighten Halloween
Stephen H. Wood | South San Francisco, CA | 10/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kino International's AMERICAN SILENT HORROR COLLECTION contains four silent horror classics and a 2001 documentary. The very good documentary, KINGDOM OF SHADOWS, is narrated by Rod Steiger in a quietly soothing voice and charts the rise of the horror film from 1900-1928. It is rich in film clips.
The four silent features never looked nor sounded so good as they do here, many mastered from nitrate negatives. Lon Chaney's THE PENALTY (1920) has an eerie music score and rich color tinting. It a ghoulish number, with Chaney as a double amputee crime lord in 1920 San Francisco who seeks revenge on the surgeon who cut off his legs after an auto accident as a child! This gripping melodrama's bonus material includes a tour of Chaney's makeup kit, two original theatrical trailers for other movies, the 1914 Chaney one-reeler BY THE SUN'S RAYS, surviving footage from THE MIRACLE MAN (1919), and an essay by Chaney author and scholar Michael F. Blake, among other items.
John Barrymore's DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920) is the masterpiece of this elegant horror set. His magnificent performance really holds up, especially his scary Hyde. Memorable bonuses include a 1909 audio recording of a stage performance for "The Transformation Scene", the hilarious Stan Laurel parody DR. PYCKLE AND MR. PRIDE (1925), an excerpt from the rival 1920 Sheldon Lewis version, and more. Mastered from a 35mm sepia negative, Barrymore's film has a wonderful score by Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Orchestra. Watch this one on Halloween night with a loved one.
I adore Paul Leni's THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1927), which is the grandfather of all old dark house thrillers with a reading of a will on a rainy night. It is still one of the most enjoyable of the genre, especially in a sepia-tinted nitrate negative. Starring are Laura La Plante, Creighton Hale, Tully Marshall, Gertrude Astor, and Flora Finch. The Neil Brand music score has been orchestrated by Timothy Brock.
Lastly, we have another Leni film, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928), which is almost more of a romance than a horror film. Blind girl Mary Philbin loves the deformed Conrad Veidt, who had a permanent smile carved on his face as a child. So everyone in medieval France thinks he is mocking them. This is a very elaborate Universal production, filmed on the back lot with sets left over from THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923). Bonuses include a 20 minute behind-the-scenes documentary, Conrad Veidt and Greta Garbo home movies, a gallery of rare photos, and more. This has the original Movietone soundtrack, restored by Universal for this studio print DVD.
Kino's AMERICAN SILENT HORROR COLLECTION will brighten your home video collection if you are an adult who treats horror films seriously as something frightening and not gross or bloody. I highly recommend it to discriminating film scholars.
Silent film clasics
E. D. Deuss | Phoenix, AZ | 01/23/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Where to begin... Kino Video's "American Silent Horror Collection" is a good boxed set. Quality is pretty good, tho' a little spotty.
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", John Barrymore's 1920 version has decent quality, but the music sounds a little too electronic for my taste. Picture quality, good. Shown at a faster speed than normal.
"The Cat and the Canary" (1927) has a very good picture, and the music fairly fits the action. Agin, it runs a little fast.
"The Penalty", Lon Chaney's 1920 tour de force, has a very good picture, but a lousy music score. (Michael Polher wrote this, and in my humble opinion, has no idea of themes, or pacing, or melody. Better to put on a CD of your choice when watching this film.) This film seems to run at the proper speed, which enhances the quality of this film.
"The Man Who Laughs" (1928) suffers from being run at too fast a speed, due to the Movietone (sound on film) soundtrack. This is a tender story, with Conrad Veidt giving an over the top performance. But the faster projection speed of the film tends to diminish the tenderness of the subject. Film quality varies, but is fairly good even so.
The final item in this boxed set is "Kingdom of the Shadows" a 1998 documentary narrated by Rod Steiger. While the film clips and history of horror in cinema are very good, the narration is deadly -- too soft and not very dynamic. (If you have insomnia, this is the one for you!)
To sum up: this is a good collection to own, even with some shortcomings."