3.5 / 5 Mar '11
Directed by: Paul Leni, Leo Birinsky
Written by: Henrik Galeen
Actors include: Emil Jannings, Conrad Veidt, Werner Krauss
Length: 83 minutes
Visually this is a stunning movie, the sets are divine and ever so detailed, and the costumes are perfection. The film is hand painted in various colors that switch between scenes and add a degree of interest to the picture. It's probably the first horror anthology that I've come across. The story that ties the three segments together is about a museum with wax figures that needs someone to write back stories for them. So this fella creates stories of what happened to each of the three figures. The first one is the longest (and the least entertaining), is about a Sultan who falls for the Baker's wife, but the Baker isn't exactly going to go away quietly. The second story is about Ivan the terrible, it was quite interesting thanks to Conrad Veidt's excellent acting. Ivan likes to watch people die from poison, he has an hourglass that represents the time they have left that he adores watching. When he orders the execution of the Chemist who makes the poisons things get a little difficult. The last story is only like 5 minutes long, and it's about Jack the Ripper (or rather Spring Heeled Jack as they call him). The last tale feels like they weren't even trying which is too bad because definitely interesting films have been made from this story. Pretty neat in some ways but the actual stories themselves are what is wrong with this one. Still worth a watching for early film fans, it's impressive to see what they accomplished visually.
Availability: On DVD