Summer is winding down and not a moment too soon! I could use a few dark and stormy nights. To that end, here are six creepy silent films to set the mood for a night of rain, lightning and… murder.
As usual, this list is limited to films I have already reviewed on the site. I’m not saying they are artistic triumphs (though some can claim that title) but rather that they set the mood beautifully. I hope you enjoy!
Let’s start with something light. Harold Lloyd plays a nice kid who wants to get married. When he and Mildred Davis tie the knot, he gets more than he bargained for. She is heiress to a fortune but her uncle wants to scare her off with… ghosts! And yes, it does indeed get dark and stormy.
This topic wouldn’t be complete without some British moors in the mix. This is a grim story of a barber who falls for a manicurist but she won’t date him even after he slits her fiance’s throat. What can you do with such people? He breaks jail and heads for… the cottage on Dartmoor! (Dun! Dun! Dun!) Yes, dark and stormy.
The only surviving silent film of stage legend George M. Cohan, this was a hackneyed chestnut when it was first released. Still, it’s great fun to see Hedda Hopper’s corpse being dragged hither and yon.
Read my review here. I also cover the talkie remake, House of the Long Shadows, which starred Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, John Carradine and… Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Lon Chaney as a mad scientist? Yup! This film is hardly a masterpiece but it’s a fun way to spend an evening. Chaney’s role is fairly small, I hope to allay any disappointment by telling you this in advance. It’s silly but I like the atmosphere.
Roland West was one the pioneers of the Old Dark House genre and this is his most famous film. It suffers from the anti-charisma of Jack Pickford as the romantic lead but there are plenty of great character actors to make up for it. Plus, proto-batsignal!
This is one of my favorite silent films to just watch and enjoy, it seems to get better with every rewatch. Stylish Germanic direction from Paul Leni + a charismatic Hollywood cast? The perfect blend! Moody, silly, zany and quirky, this picture is just a blast from beginning to end. Without a doubt, the ultimate silent horror-comedy. See it!