Monday, December 26, 2016

Day 53:Waxworks

I originally had the Todd Browning Dracula scheduled here but I had the opportunity to see some other classic horror last night. Waxworks is a 1924 anthology that is kind of horror but not really. In the frame story, a young poet is hired by the owner of the Waxworks to write stories based on his displays. As the poet falls for the owner's daughter, he works both himself and her into the stories as characters. Whenever I used to see this title on a list of greatest horror, I thought it was the kind of lame 1980s Waxwork movie being referenced. My friend, Max, bought me a book about essential horror and this version was written up in it. Now knowing what to look for, I found it pretty easily.

The first story is of the Caliph of Baghdad and his attempts to bang the wife of a local baker. While the Caliph is trying to get his swerve on, the baker has decided to sneak into the Caliph's bedroom and chop off his arm to steal his ring. A pretty good chase sequence is the center of this one and it all ends like a bad sitcom.

The second story is Ivan the Terrible, played by Conrad Veidt. He is obsessed with the idea that someone is going to assassinate him. He is also Superstitious, like SUPERstitious. He enjoys watching people die slowly of poison by watching an hourglass with their name on it. He believes that whoever's name gets written on the hourglass, dies. So, believing his chief poisoner to have too much power, he has him executed, but not before he hastily inscribes a giant hourglass with Ivan's name. The rest of the story has to do with a wedding and Ivan forcing the father of the bride to switch outfits. The wedding goes very poorly and Ivan ends up in a sort of ironic punishment hell by the end.

The third, and shortest, story is of (apparently) Jack the Ripper. The movie keeps calling him Spring-Heeled Jack, which is a different character altogether. Anyway, the poet has a nightmare about the Ripper statue coming to life and stalking him throughout the Waxworks.

This is another expressionistic film, like Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but directed by Paul Leni (who also directed the excellent Man Who Laughs). I admit, I fell asleep watching this so it isn't the most pulse pounding. It does have a few good creep moments to it, however.

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