Do you enjoy horror? Do you enjoy what used to be horror before we’d all collectively seen too much? Do you get cable in the US? Then you should check out Turner Classic Movies on Friday nights throughout October. Tonight’s focus is films from the Silent Era, including German Expressionist film, the works of Lon Chaney, and a Swiss-Danish documentary on the hysteria surrounding witchcraft. Early Saturday morning sees a shift to talkies featuring Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff.
At 8/7 Central: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922). An unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, F. W. Murnau’s contribution to German Expressionist film changes all the names but keeps the basic plot: a real estate agent (Gustav von Wangenheim) discovers ugly Count Orlock’s (Max Schreck) unearthly secret.
At 9:45/8:45 Central: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). Robert Wiene’s contribution to German Expressionism, also considered the pinnacle of the form. It tells the story of a hynotist (Werner Krauss) exhibiting a cabinet containing a man (Conrad Veidt) in a trance.
At 11:15/10:15 Central: The Unholy Three (1925). Directed by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney as a side-show ventriloquist who forms an underground trio with a strongman and a midget.
At 1AM/Midnight Central: The Phantom of the Opera (1925). Rupert Julien’s adaptation starring Lon Chaney as a mad, masked composer holding a singer (Mary Philbin) captive in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House grooming her for stardom.
At 2:45/1:45AM Central: Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922). Director Benjamin’s Christensen’s documentary on they hysteria surrounding superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases (including mental illness) inspired by his study of the 15th-century text the Malleus Maleficarum, used by Inquisitors to hunt those suspected of witchcraft.
4:45/3:45AM Central: The Penalty (1920). Samuel Goldwyn’s adaptation of the pulp novel of the same name by Gouverneur Morris. A deranged criminal (Lon Chaney) seeks revenge against the doctor who amputated his legs.
At 6:30/5:30AM: The Unknown (1927). Directed by Tod Browning, Lon Chaney stars as a fugitive posing as a circus performer who goes to extreme lengths to win the heart of his lovely assistant (Joan Crawford).
At 7:30/6:30AM: Mad Love (1935). Directed by Karl Freund and adapted from “The Hands of Orlac” by Maurice Renard, Peter Lorre stars as a surgeon who grafts the hands of a killer on to the pianist husband (Colin Clive) of an actress (Frances Drake) he loves.
At 9/8AM Central: Isle of the Dead (1945). One of producer Val Lewton’s B-pictures for RKO Studios, Boris Karloff stars as a Greek general in the 1912 Balkans who finds his wife’s grave has been robbed in the middle of a plague. Inspired by Swiss Symbolist Arnold Böcklin’s painting Isle of the Dead (1890).