The Silent Era

 

Iconic Classic – Nosferatu 1922

The silent era of horror films is a fascinating period of time. It established the deep psychological themes, characters and imagery which would be highly influential upon the upcoming genre.

A strong Gothic atmosphere was achieved with these films and they featured highly potent, disturbing scenes for the time. Many scenes and characters are still pretty chilling to this day, as if these early efforts managed to hit upon some deep-rooted, subconscious fears.

Early film makers experimented with many different techniques and themes as they explored the capabilities of an exciting new sensation called “moving pictures”. A photographic technique which had already been popular since the 1860’s was Spirit Photography. This was an attempt to capture images of ‘ghosts’ on film. It was a technique discovered accidentally through double exposure (exposing of a film twice to achieve an artificial, single image) and one which was used by spiritualists and mediums of the late 1880’s and early 1900’s.

Mumler_(Lincoln)

Understandably, Spirit Photography was a big influence on what early film makers would try to achieve.

Along with interest in the afterlife, the legends and folklore of Europe had a natural influence on early ‘horror’ films…as did classic works of fiction such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. These would be some of the very first stories put to film.

In 1895, a French magician by the name of George Méliès decided that this new medium of moving pictures would add a great new element to his stage shows. He shot footage of horse-drawn carriage and people passing by. The crude camera jammed as the passing traffic continued…eventually, he started cranking his camera again. Later when he projected the sequence, a new special effect had been achieved! A horse-drawn meat wagon had been somehow transformed into a hearse!

Méliès was fascinated by this discovery and spent the next ten years using this technique to produce footage of man morphing into ghost, devil and all sorts of fantastical being. More than anyone else from this era, he was responsible for bringing to life so many amazing wonders and to stir the public’s imagination of what could be achieved and expected in these fright features.

 

 

Below is a list of every Silent Horror Movie made from 1890 to the 1920’s – excluding films now lost.

 

 

 

1890’s 

  • Le Manoir du diable  (The Haunted Castle). 1896, France.
  • Une nuit terrible  (A Terrible Night). 1896, France.
  • Conjuring a Lady at Robert Houdin’s 1896, France.   
  • The Haunted Castle 1897, United Kingdom.
  • The Bewitched Inn 1897, France.
  • The X-Rays 1897, United Kingdom.
  • The Alchemist’s Hallucination 1897, France.
  • Photographing a Ghost 1898, United Kingdom.
  • The Accursed Cavern 1898, France. 
  • The Astronomer’s Dream  (A Trip to the Moon). 1898, France.                              120px-Bat_(PSF)           
  • The Cavalier’s Dream 1898, United States.
  • The Miser’s Doom 1899, United Kingdom.
  • Le Diable au couvent 1899, France.
  • Raising Spirits 1899, France.

1900’s

  • Faust and Marguerite 1900, United States.
  • Chinese Magic (Yellow Peril) 1900, United Kingdom.
  • Bluebeard 1901, France.
  • The Haunted Curiosity Shop 1901, United Kingdom.
  • Les Tresors de satan (The Treasures of Satan). 1902, France.
  • Le diable geant ou Le miracle de la madonne (The Devil and the Statue). 1902, France.
  • Le Monstre (The Monster). 1903, France.
  • Le Chaudron Infernal (The Infernal Boiling Pot). 1903, France.
  • Le Cake-walk infernal (The Infernal Cake Walk). 1903, France.
  • Le Diable Noir (The Black Imp). 1904, France.
  • La Maison hantee (The Haunted House). 1906, France.
  • Les Quatre  cents farces du diable (The 400 Tricks of the Devil) 1906, France
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1908, United States.
  • The Sealed Room 1909, United States.

1910’s 

  • Frankenstein 1910, United States.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1912, United States.
  • Le Systeme du Docteur Goudron et du Professeur Plume (The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether) 1912, France.
  • The Mask of Horror 1912, France.
  • The Spider’s Web 1912, United States.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1913, United States.
  • The Student of Prague 1913, Germany.
  • The Skull 1913, United States.
  • The Werewolf 1913, United States.
  • The Avenging Conscience 1914, United States.
  • Der Golem 1915, Germany.
  • The Haunting Fear 1915, United States.
  • Life Without Soul 1915, United States.
  • The Crimson Stain Mystery 1916, United States.
  • Haevens nat (Alternate title: Blind Justice) 1916, Denmark.
  • A Night of Horror 1916, Germany.
  • Fear 1917, Germany.
  • Der Golem und die Tanzerin (The Golem and the Dancing Girl) 1917, Germany.
  • Alraune 1918, Hungary/Austria.
  • The Beetle 1919, United Kingdom.
  • Unheimliche Geschichten (Uncanny Stories) 1919, Germany.

1920’s 

  • Anita 1920, Austria.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920, Germany.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1920, United States.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1920, United States.
  • Genuine 1920, Germany.
  • The Golem: How He Came into the World 1920, Germany.
  • The Head of Janus 1920, Germany.
  • Penalty 1920, United States.
  • Il Mostro di Frankenstein (The Monster of Frankenstein) 1920, Italy.
  • Der Muede Tod (Weary Death, aka; Destiny) 1921, Germany.
  • The Haunted Castle 1921, Germany.
  • Korkalen (The Phantom Carriage) 1921, Sweden.
  • A Blind Bargain 1922, United States.
  • The Ghost Breaker 1922, United States.
    Nosferatu!

    Count ‘Orlock’ – Nosferatu 1922

     

  • Haxan (The Witches) 1922, Sweden.
  • The Headless Horseman 1922, United States.                            
  • Nosferatu 1922, Germany.
  • One Exciting Night 1922, United States.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923, United States.
  • The Last Moment 1923, United States.
  • The Hands of Orlac 1924, Germany/Austria.
  • Waxworks 1924, Germany.
  • The Monster 1925, United States.
  • The Phantom of the Opera 1925, United States.
  • Wolfblood: A Tale of the Forest 1925, United States.
  • The Bat 1926, United States.
  • Faust – Eine deutsche Volkssage (Faust) 1926, Germany.
  • Maciste all’inferno (Maciste in Hell) 1926, Italy.
  • The Magician 1926, United States.
  • The Student of Prague 1926, Germany.
  • The Cat and the Canary 1927, United States.
  • The Gorilla 1927, United States.
  • London After Midnight 1927, United States.
  • The Spider’s Web 1927, United States.
  • The Unknown 1927, United States.
  • Alraune 1928, Germany.
  • The Ape 1928, United States.
  • The Fall of the House of Usher 1928, France.
  • The Fall of the House of Usher 1928, United States
  • The Terror 1928, United States.

 


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