Last week Balladeer’s Blog examined the greatest silent horror film shorts from 1896 to 1909. This time around I’m presenting even more Halloween season fun with a look at early cinema’s horror treats from 1910 to 1915.

FRANKENSTEIN (1910) – The Edison Company’s 1910 version of the Mary Shelley classic ran just 16 minutes and featured a very unique creation scene. In a high-tech chamber Dr Frankenstein caused organs and body parts to form around, and attach themselves to, a skeleton. The monster slowly took shape as the anatomy was filled in around the skeletal frame, like Freddy Kreueger when revived in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 or the creepy guy in the first Hellraiser movie. This flick ended with the Frankenstein Monster (Charles Ogle) being killed by catching sight of its own reflection in the mirror.

THE BRIDE OF THE HAUNTED CASTLE (1910) – A woman is sealed in a haunted castle to be the bride of a living skeleton. 15 minutes long.

THE DETACHABLE MAN (1910) – This 7 minute Pathe film features a man with the macabre ability to detach and reattach his various limbs… No, I don’t know if he could detach that, too.

MUSEUM SPOOKS (1910) – At night in a creepy museum the figures in the paintings emerge from their frames and cavort around the halls until sunup. 6 minutes in length.

THE QUEEN OF SPADES (1910) – Deutsche Bioscop produced this German film. It was a 15 minute adaptation of the Pushkin story about an officer in the Imperial Russian Army who enlists the help of an elderly woman’s ghost to help him win when gambling at cards. The officer winds up in Hell for coming up with such a petty favor to ask of an actual ghost. (I’m kidding!)

DEATH (1911) – A 5 minute short that presented the Grim Reaper wandering the streets of a night- darkened city looking for the latest people designated to die.

DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE (1911) – Yet another adaptation of the famous story. This one ran 15 minutes and starred James Cruze.

NOTRE DAME DE PARIS (1911) – Pathe production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. At 45 minutes this was the longest screen version to date. Henri Krauss and Stacia Napierkowska starred. 

THE WITCH OF SEVILLE (1911) – Whoever wears the enchanted hat of a dead witch becomes haunted by a legion of ghosts.

ANDALUSIAN SUPERSTITION (1912) – A spooky cavern contains large bottles that house hideous monstrosities called homonculi. Is releasing them a good idea? This 13 minute flick answered that question.

FEATHERTOP (1912) – American Standard turned out this 15 minute short that was the latest cinematic adaptation of the Nathaniel Hawthorne story about a witch who brings a scarecrow named Feathertop to life to do her bidding. She uses him in a plot against the townspeople she hates.

THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW (1912) American Standard strikes again with a 12 minute version of the Washington Irving story about the Headless Horseman.

A SPIDER IN THE BRAIN (1912) – An X-ray machine is used to track down a large spider that has burrowed its way into a man’s brain. 

THE SYSTEM OF DR TARR AND PROFESSOR FEATHER (1912) – 15 minute presentation of the Edgar Allan Poe story about violent inmates taking over an insane asylum, with some masquerading as the institution’s doctors.

THE VENGEANCE OF EGYPT (1912) – A mummy is disinterred in 1799 during Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign. A ring on the mummy’s finger is stolen and over the years brings horror and death to each person who possesses it. At last an Egyptologist returns the ring to the mummy at which point the mummy’s eyes gleam with satisfaction. 45 minutes.

BALAOO (1913) – 45 minute Eclair production based on a story by Gaston Leroux, author of the novel The Phantom of the Opera. A mad scientist uses an ape-man monster to commit murders.

DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE (1913) – This British production ran 30 minutes and was the first FULL LENGTH color horror film. Two projectors were used simultaneously to provide the color, so the system was never adapted by more than a few movie theaters.

ISLAND OF TERROR (1913) – A Kliene/ Urbanora production from France. A mad scientist conducts unspeakable experiments on animals in an attempt to “humanize” them. Based on The Island of Dr Moreau by H.G. Wells. 

THE WEREWOLF (1913) – Henry MacRae produced this first known film version of a werewolf story. Making it stand out even more is the fact that the story is based on Native American legends of wolf-men. A medicine man named Watuma is capable of transforming himself into a wolf. The special effects for the transformations are just quick dissolves, no gradual metamorphosis is shown.

THE GOLEM (1914) – In 1914 Prague, a Rabbi revives the clay monster called the Golem from the sleep it has been in since the 1500’s, when the original tale of the Golem was set. The Golem once again avenges the Jewish community on their governmental oppressors, but when it falls in love with a human woman it abandons its mission of vengeance bringing tragic results.  Paul Wegener portrayed the Golem, a role he would once again play in 1917 and 1920. 80 minutes long. 

THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY (1914) – Spirits of the recently dead possess the bodies of the living in this 12 minute tale.

THE WHITE WOLF (1914) – Another early werewolf flick and it, too, used the Native American versions of lycanthropy. A white wolf terrorizing the community is really a Native American medicine man.

THE BLACK CROOK (1915) – To try to avoid Hell, a crook promises to deliver one soul a year to Satan if he lets him live. 60 minutes.

CALL FROM THE DEAD (1915) – The corpse of a murder victim returns from the dead to slay the murderer in this 15 minute Thanheuser flick.

A CRY IN THE NIGHT (1915) – 20 minutes. A mad scientist controls a winged gorilla and uses him to kill his enemies . James Russell played the monster, called The Thing in the credits.

Balladeer's Blog

Balladeer’s Blog

THE DEVIL’S PROFESSION (1915) – A mad scientist injects wealthy people with a drug that drives them insane. So THAT explains it! 55 minutes long.

THE DUST OF EGYPT (1915) – The mummy of the Egyptian Princess Amenset, played by Edith Storey, returns to life with the usual mummy story complications arising. 88 minutes.

LIFE WITHOUT SOUL (1915) – In this hour-long adaptation of Frankenstein, the title doctor invents a “serum of life” with which he creates a large monster. The creature is conscienceless and views humans as prey. This version of the story was a financial flop.

I’ll post the final part in a few days!



© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Filed under Halloween Season

40 responses to “THE BEST SILENT HORROR FILM SHORTS PART 2: 1910 – 1915

  1. Bottled monsters, living skeletons and all the rest! You may make me a silent movie fan!

  2. The winged ape story sounds very interesting!

  3. Amazing to see what they were doing in silent films!

  4. Pingback: Hank

  5. These silent horror shorts would be great set to Marilyn Manson music!

  6. It’s interesing 2 c how many mummy stories there were back then.

    • I agree, especially since this was still before all the publicity over the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. In addition to all the mummy movies I listed this time and last time there were plenty more comedy shorts featuring real mummies or people dressed up as mummies.

  7. How do you feel about the other 1920 version of Dr Jekyll and Mr hyde?

  8. kewl how u opened and closed with a Frankenstien movie

  9. Enjoyable reading! The 1910 Frankenstein was disappointing on youtube but these others sound good.

  10. Nice info about that 1914 Golem picture.

  11. Wonderful way 2 learn about that one with the cave and the bottled creatures.


  13. catherineoakley

    Hi Balladeer! I’m keen to track down more info on ‘A Spider in the Brain’ if possible – can you tell me what your sources are for these? Many thanks!

    • I’ll double check on that one. I use multiple sources so I’ll need to burrow back into those books to see where it can be obtained. I’ll post what I find back here.

  14. These different silent horror films actualy sound intersting

  15. I’m curious how you selected these as “best” when most of the ones you chose no longer exist. I’ve seen the remaining fragments of BALAOO and the Edison FRANKENSTEIN of course, but I’m pretty sure everything else is a lost film.

  16. Casey

    Spot on with these excellent summaries! The ones in the glass bottles are creepy.

  17. Harry

    These sound great!

  18. Van the Man

    I agree! Wish we had more footage than just that museum roll that goes around with barely a few dozen feet of film on some of these!

  19. Kimburlee

    Hormonculi are spooky!

  20. Magdalene Francis

    I love your assessment of cinema.

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