Combustible Celluloid

German Horror Classics (1919-23)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Horror Expressionism

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy German Horror Classics on DVD

Kino's outstanding four-disc set includes four silent classics: Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) is a landmark of Expressionist cinema and contains many dazzling set pieces, but isn't exactly what you'd call gripping. The DVD contains a "condensation" of another Wiene film, Genuine: The Tale of a Vampire. The Golem (1920) plays as more of a history than a horror, but it contains some gorgeous cinematography (by Karl Freund) plus the novelty of having been directed by the golem himself, Paul Wegener. F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922) is a flat-out masterpiece and a must-see for both horror buffs and movie lovers. Kino's Nosferatu looks a bit better than Image's DVD from two years ago, but features different extras. Both discs come with two different soundtracks, and my favorite is the Silent Orchestra on the former disc. The former disc also contains a commentary track, but the new disc contains clips of three rare Murnau films. In essence, I would recommend owning both discs. Paul Leni's Waxworks (1923) stars future film director William Dieterle who gets a job writing text for a wax horror show. The film tells three stories: Harun al Raschid, Ivan the Terrible, and a very brief Jack the Ripper. Most of these titles are available elsewhere in inferior, public domain versions, so these Kino editions should be considered definitive.

Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Paul Wegener, Emil Jannings, William Dieterle
Written by: Hans Janowitz, Carl Mayer, Henrik Galeen, Paul Wegener
Directed by: Robert Wiene, F.W. Murnau, Paul Wegener, Paul Leni
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Silent
Running Time: 335 minutes
Date: October 24, 2002

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