Horror in Silent Films.
A Filmography 1896-1929
by Roy Kinnard. McFarland & Co.
Review by Kenneth
Horror in Silent Films A
Filmography, 1896 1929 by Roy Kinnard was first published in a
library bound edition in 1995 by McFarland & Company, Jefferson, North Carolina, USA.
It has now been released as a paper bound McFarland Classic.
Mr. Kinnard brings the same care and attention to this volume demonstrated by his The
Lost World of Willis OBrien (1993) and Science
Fiction Serials (1998), both also published by McFarland & Company.
Mr. Kinnard argues that the horror film
didnt really exist before talking pictures. He states that movies like The Phantom of the Opera (1925) were marketed more
as colourful melodramas and that silent screen stars like Lon Chaney were not limited to
such roles as were later performers. He states that films like Nosferatu (1922) and The Golem
(1920) were presented in the United States anyway as special art
films. More often than not, strange happenings were explained away logically in the last
reel to dispel any belief in the supernatural.
However, the seeds of the horror film were sown long before Tod Brownings Dracula (1931) and James Whales Frankenstein (1931), stalked across the screen and
officially ushered in the genre. Mr. Kinnard emphasizes that many sound films now
considered classics owe their atmosphere and intensity to their silent precursors.
The author has compiled a chronology of
silent films with horrific scenes and/or plot elements into what is the most complete
listing I have ever seen. The films are listed year by year, and while there is more
information listed on some of the more famous films, all relevant available information is
listed for every entry.
Also included with a short bibliography are two indexes, one by film titles and the other
by names. Films are listed both by their original language titles and in English
translation. Photographs, some of which are the only record of the films existence,
liberally illustrate the text.
It has been known for years that much of
our early cinematic legacy has been lost due to the physical deterioration of the film
medium. That is the reason I feel that Mr. Kinnards book is an important step toward
preservation. It is an interesting and accessible a work for the scholar as well as for
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