Movie Fact #770 – June 2nd, 2015:

The 1920 German silent horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” is widely considered to be the first true horror film ever made. I mean before “horror” was even a designated genre. It didn’t seem like much on paper. Sets were constructed for less than $800, made of paper with shadows painted on the walls, and the leading actors were paid $30 a day. However it ultimately played at one Paris theater for seven years! It has been hailed as the ultimate influence on the genre. Even the advertisement was handled creepy and almost surreal.

Weeks before the initial release of the film, posters were put up in Berlin with the tag-line “Du mußt Caligari werden!” which translates into “You have to become Caligari!”. This was done without the slightest hint that they were promotion for the upcoming movie. However, I feel what truly makes the film memorable is the eerie nature of it’s inspiration.

Co-writer Hans Janowitz claims to have gotten the idea for the film when he was at a carnival one day where he saw a strange man lurking in the shadows. The next day, Janowitz heard that a girl was brutally murdered there and he went to her funeral. There…he saw the same strange man lurking around. Now he had no proof that the strange man was the murderer, but he fleshed the whole idea out into his film.

Whether that story was true and that strange man was the killer, whether the advertisement was eerie, or the sets brilliantly executed on a budget, it is this film that catapulted a genre and to this day that horror still haunts our very screens. That is a horror story that is very much true. Sleep tight.

Published in: on June 2, 2015 at 1:14 AM  Leave a Comment  

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