The Cat and the Canary

The Cat and the Canary

DVD - 2005
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The potential heirs to a large fortune gather at their benefactor's mansion twenty years after his death but the reading of his will is interrupted by a series of disturbing events.
Publisher: Chatsworth, CA : Image Entertainment, 2005
Description: 1 videodisc (85 min.) : si., col. tinted ; 4 3/4 in
Branch Call Number: DVD Cata

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Derringer
May 07, 2018

If you are looking for genuine "scary" with this vintage fright flick, then, I say - "Forget it!"

Now 90 years old - You really gotta cut this piece of silent-era cinema some serious slack and, then, it still doesn't hold up very well. It was all pretty predictable and yes, even, downright silly a lot of the time.

I really resent users (like the one below) who spew out spoilers without any care that they are, in fact, ruining any potential surprises for all other viewers.

n
Nursebob
Dec 05, 2014

It’s a dark and stormy night when the greedy relatives of deceased millionaire Cyrus West gather at his gloomy mansion for the reading of the will—twenty years after his death as per his wishes. But the eccentric old tycoon never really liked his immediate family, knowing that they only saw dollar signs whenever they looked at him, so besides a will he also left a few cryptic letters with his lawyer designed to cast suspicion and unease in their ranks. To his chosen heir however, he also included one ominous proviso: if you are judged to be mentally incompetent the entire fortune will go to another as yet unnamed member of the West clan. Cue a night of intrigue, mayhem, and murder made all the more harrowing by the arrival of a guard claiming an escaped lunatic may be hiding on the estate. Unlike Radley Metzger’s horrid 1978 adaptation (also reviewed here) director Paul Leni creates a beautifully gothic setting of creepy hallways, cobwebbed rooms, and hidden passageways. Using tinted film stock that goes from midnight blue to radiant orange as well as some clever effects, he pays homage to the original stage play with his talented troupe of silent actors emoting amongst elaborate backdrops of billowing drapes and candlelit parlours; a crazy escape attempt on the back of a horse-drawn milk cart was especially well done. And true to the German expressionist school Leni also throws in a few surreal visuals, most notably the exterior shots of West’s mansion rising organically from the surrounding countryside like a haunted castle. Shot through with suspense and unexpected humour, this delightfully spooky classic from the silent film era still manages to hold its own.

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