Tag Archives: silent horror films


Halloween month continues at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at two dozen of my favorite silent horror films.

The Crimson Stain MysteryTHE CRIMSON STAIN MYSTERY (1916) – This was a 16 chapter silent serial that contained multiple horrific elements. The fact that it is so little remembered these days makes it perfect for this list, given Balladeer’s Blog’s overall theme. A mad scientist calling himself the Crimson Stain experiments on human guinea pigs in an attempt to create an intellectually superior race. His experiments all fail, producing hideous, mutated monsters. The Crimson Stain organizes his misbegotten menagerie into a villainous organization and wages a campaign of terror on the world at large. A heroic detective leads the opposition against them and tries to learn the identity of the Crimson Stain. Chapters in this serial boasted wonderfully campy titles like The Brand of Satan, The Devil’s Symphony, Despoiling Brutes and The Human Tiger.  

THE MAN WITHOUT A SOUL (1916) – A man returns from the dead bereft of any trace of morality or humanity. He now views the people around him as victims and prey. 

THE GOLEM AND THE DANCER (1917) – In the very first known horror movie sequel Paul Wegener starred and directed himself once again as the clay monster called the Golem. In this enjoyably “meta” production decades before Scream or The Human Caterpillar II, Wegener played himself. Continue reading


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Halloween month continues at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at a neglected silent horror film.

Lon Chaney as the mad scientist Dr Ziska in The Monster.

Lon Chaney as the mad scientist Dr Ziska in The Monster.

THE MONSTER (1925) – The incomparable Lon Chaney, “the man of a thousand faces” starred as the mad scientist Dr Ziska in this horror film that is often neglected because of its annoyingly heavy use of comic relief moments. Dr Ziska is in the habit of engineering car accidents for various innocent motorists and their Model T’s. Then his lackeys abduct them and take them to the mad doctor’s sanitarium which is far removed from the nearest town or city. Continue reading


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The MagicianHalloween month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog! 

THE MAGICIAN (1926) – This early MGM movie was adapted from Somerset Maugham’s novel based on the notorious Aleister Crowley. Paul Wegener of The Golem fame portrays Oliver Haddo, the sinister title figure who discovers the secret of creating life through Black Magic. He and his dwarf assistant need to use blood from the hearts of female virgins as one of the ingredients, setting up the expected macabre goings-on.  

Balladeer's Blog

Balladeer’s Blog

WHY ISN’T THE MAGICIAN BETTER KNOWN?! This is a magnificent movie that modern audiences would probably embrace more than they do films like The Phantom of the Opera, Nosferatu and other classics beloved by me and my fellow silent film geeks. There is virtually no overacting or outrageous melodrama in The Magician, just VERY nicely handled horror and suspense. Continue reading


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The Red Spectre with the bottled souls of his victims.

The Red Spectre with the bottled souls of his victims.

THE RED SPECTRE (1907) – 9-10 minute Pathe production which features beautifully rendered red tinting. The central figure is a demon in the depths of Hell clad in a red cape plus skull makeup and skeletal central costume.  

The Red Spectre toys with the captive souls of various women until an angel shows up to end his evil deeds and do battle with him. The angel is played by a woman with very short hair so it may have been meant to be a little boy angel. Continue reading


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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 Continue reading


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http://cpshaw.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/manoir.jpgI’ve never made any secret out of the fact that I’m a hopeless silent movie geek. As we get closer to Halloween Balladeer’s Blog will examine the greatest silent horror films of all but for this little teaser I’ll take a look at the best silent horror shorts from 1896 to 1909.

THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (1896) – Unless an earlier example turns up this is the very first horror movie with a semblance of a story. This 3 minute film from THE Georges Melies features the Devil setting up housekeeping in a creepy mansion and conjuring up his infernal lackeys like witches, goblins and a living skeleton man to keep him company. Much as the early film world owes to Melies we all know if you’ve seen one of his flicks you’ve seen them all so this will be the last work by him that I cover for this list. His camera trickery and broad characters get old REALLY fast.

FAUST AND MEPHISTOPHELES (1898) – George A Smith, a British stage magician, presents this very brief depiction of Faust selling his soul to the devil named Mephistopheles.

THE MISER’S DOOM (1899) – Like an 1899 Twilight Zone episode this Walter Booth short features a clutching, grasping miser getting his comeuppance in the form of a fatal encounter with a woman’s ghost. 

THE FREAK BARBER (1905) – In a sort of “Extreme Sweeney Todd” story a mad barber decapitates his customers until the tables are turned and he himself gets his head chopped off in the finale. 3 minutes of weirdness.

THE THIRTEEN CLUB (1905) – A group of Continue reading


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