Unboxing the Silents: The House of Mystery

The House of Mystery is one of the most exciting silent film releases to come along in ages. This serial has been knocking ’em dead on the film festival circuit for a while but this is the first time it has been available to the general public since its release over ninety years ago. And don’t let the word “serial” put you off. Instead, think of The House of Mystery as a very fine miniseries, the kind that sweeps award shows.


Available on DVD.

Please note that I am reviewing the technical aspects of the DVD release, not the serial itself. You can read my review of the serial here but let me just give you an in-a-nutshell breakdown.

The House of Mystery attempts one of the most difficult feats– creating a film that is equal parts art and entertainment– and it succeeds brilliantly. It pleases crowds and critics with equal success.

If you like artistic fare, you will be entranced. If you like adventure and entertainment, you will be satisfied. It has humor, romance, suspense and some very polished acting. There is quite literally something for everyone.

The serial was released on DVD by Flicker Alley and the Blackhawk Films® Collection. Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients and see if the presentation lives up to the content.

The Look

Lovely! As you can see, the film is in excellent shape for its age.

House of Mystery DVD (3)House of Mystery DVD (4)House of Mystery DVD (5)House of Mystery DVD (6)

Check out Flicker Alley’s trailer for the serial and feast your eyes and ears.

The Music

Arranging accompaniment for a series with a 6 1/2 hour length has to be a challenge but the piano score by Neil Brand is excellent. (As you can hear in the trailer.) It’s romantic, dramatic, intelligent and it contains all the right nods to French and Russian classical music. Fabulous stuff.

Packaging and Extras

The serial is divided onto three DVDs. It retains its French intertitles and gives the option of English subtitles.

The menu
The menu
The subtitles
The subtitles

The set comes in a standard-size DVD case with one of those flippy trays to accommodate the extra discs. It holds the discs securely and I had no trouble getting them out. (This may seem like a small point to you but I have had DVDs that seem like they are going to break in half before the case lets them go.)

Various packaging angles.
Various packaging angles.

The set comes with a booklet detailing the lives and careers of the cast and crew. There is also a slideshow of stills on the third disc that contains a combination of posed shots and behind-the-scenes images.

An enthusiastic bit of fisticuffs.
An enthusiastic bit of fisticuffs.


An emphatic yes! Other reviewers have been raving about this film and they are absolutely correct. This serial was a buried treasure and now its available to all.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this film at no cost to me. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. thecinematicpackrat

    This sounds interesting. Will check it out.

    I’m with you on the hard to get out DVDs. There is a certain DVD holder design out there that’s clear and plastic. They continue to use the design to this day despite it being horrendous. Yeah, it keeps the discs in (part one of its job), but if I can’t get the discs out, they do me little good. Part two of a DVD case is to easily be able to get the discs. My Wolfman DVD is actually cracked and can’t play on some players because of how hard it is to get the disc out. Others are developing similar physical characteristics. Sorry for the little rant, but I hate those kinds of DVD holders.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      I know what you mean. My DVD for Cinema Europe cracked when I was trying to pull it out of its case. I ended up buying one of those big DVD cases and transferring most of my collection into it.

      1. thecinematicpackrat

        I’ve thought about doing that, and I may do that someday for some of my DVDs, but I do like having them displayed in the cases. So, I’ve resisted, but I may have to soon if just to prevent having to buy some of them again to replace the broken discs.

  2. Michae Kuzmanovski

    So few DVDs/Blue-Rays come with any sort of booklet these days. I’m glad Flicker Alley has included them in their releases.

    Ease of getting the disc out of the holder really is important. I cracked my DVD of Safety Last because it was held in too tightly. Thankfully, Criterion replaced it for free.

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