HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
12 Hour Shift
Filmmaker's House, The
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
Butt Boy
Dog of Flanders, The
Bushido Blade, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
   
 
  Cat and the Canary, The Murder Mansion
Year: 1927
Director: Paul Leni
Stars: Laura La Plante, Creighton Hale, Forrest Stanley, Tully Marshall, Gertrude Astor, Flora Finch, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Martha Mattox, George Siegmann, Lucien Littlefield
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Twenty years ago, the reclusive millionaire Cyrus West went to his grave, but he left instructions about his will that they were not to be read out to his money-grabbing family until now. He made his home in a sprawling mansion which gained a reputation for being haunted, one which only increased as time went by: was the spectre of Cyrus wandering its bleak corridors, unseen by anyone? The surviving relatives are about to find out, as although most of them only have a distant connection to one another, they are gathered this evening to finally hear how much they will be getting of the old man's fortune...

This celebrated silent told a tale that even in 1927 had been done to death, in theatre, books as well as the cinema, but nevertheless the original version of the hit stage play The Cat and the Canary was such a success on the big screen that it breathed new life into the genre as all the Hollywood studios and certain ones abroad found the basic plot of assembling a group of people, some of them suspicious, and terrorising them in an old dark house pretty lucrative. Just like the slasher boom of the late seventies and eighties, there were other horror movies being made, but if you were to go to see one at random it would most likely be fitting this template.

There were crossovers in terms of style, so you could have a mixture of ODH movie and mad scientist movie for example, but the concept of a remote location where all sorts of fiendish events manifested themselves was a very attractive one, and proved undeniably influential in the decades to come. You couldn't place that entirely at the feet of The Cat and the Canary, but it was a significant contributing factor, and much of this was down to the artfulness of its director Paul Leni. A German emigré, he didn't spend much time in Hollywood before his untimely death, but he assuredly made his mark in works noted for their innovative camerawork, of which this was the most famous.

The sense of a director taking a hoary old plot and sprucing it up with as much imagination as he could muster was well to the fore here, creating a silent movie which still had much to attract in the following century, with its roving shots, superimpositions of such images as laughing skulls and clock mechanisms striking midnight, or that old favourite, the dead body falling out of a door into the audience, or so it seemed, popularly parodied by Tex Avery in his classic spoof Who Killed Who? Except, of course, The Cat and the Canary was already a spoof, as you would notice when you caught sight of the hero, the anxiety-ridden Paul Jones, played by Irish actor Creighton Hale, sporting round, black-rimmed glasses to make him appear all the more alarmed.

Not that he needed much help in that department as Hale jittered his way through his scenes until he finally made good on his promise to protect the leading lady, Laura La Plante in the role of the actual, sole heiress Annabelle West. A well-liked star of the silent era, her career petered out after sound, leaving this as her most enduring legacy; Leni evidently knew he was on to a good thing with her acting as time and again he returns to closeups of the actress looking frightened, as if to cue the audience, though these were more giggly scares than outright terror. When Annabelle is informed at the reading that she is to inherit the whole fortune, she seems relieved though her relatives have misgivings, but the lawyer then goes on to say she will only inherit if proven sane, which seems to spark someone ensuring by the end of the night she will be anything but as secret panels open to reveal spider-like claws grasping, and news reaches them of an escaped lunatic in the area. Nowadays, this is as creaky as the conventions it was sending up, but no less entertaining for that.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2058 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: