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American Silent Horror Collection (The Man Who Laughs/The Penalty/The Cat and the Canary/Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde/Kingdom of Shadows) (5pc)

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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(Oct 09, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

4 Horror Gems from the silent era plus an original documentary. THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928) DIRECTED BY PAUL LENI STARRING CONRAD VEIDT & MARY PHILBIN - Paul Leni's adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel tells the story of Gwynplaine (Conrad Veidt), a tortured man with a permanent smile carved on his face. Batman creator Bob Kane has cited Leni's film as inspiration for his classic villain The Joker. - DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920) DIRECTED BY J.S. ROBERTSON STARRING JOHN BARRYMORE - This first great American horror film follows the transformation of a prominent London physician, Dr. Jeckyll, into the murderous Mr. Hyde while he explores the dual nature of man. THE PENALTY (1920) DIRECTED BY WALTER WORSLEY STARRING LON CHANEY - In one of his most diabolical roles, Lon Chaney stars as a criminal mastermind who carries out a gruesome vengeance upon the doctor who amputated his legs. THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1927) DIRECTED BY PAUL LENI STARRING LAURA LA PLANTE - A decaying mansion and a stormy night are the archetypal setting for mystery and chaos when a pack of greedy relatives gather for the reading of a twenty-year-old will. But before the West fortune can be handed down, the family must endure a night in the cavernous manor. THE CAT is a milestone of the American horror film, thanks to the ingenuity of its director, Paul Leni. One of the first film artists imported from Germany by Hollywood, Leni invigorated this stage-bound genre with expressionist flair, transforming conventional material into a visual feast. Meticulously restored from original nitrate prints by Photoplay productions and a new score by Neil Brand. KINGDOM OF SHADOWS (1998) NARRATED BY ROD STEIGER DIRECTED BY BRET WOOD - The horror film, from the turn of the century to the end of the silent era, is explored in this haunting, sometimes shocking documentary...a danse macabre of religion, carnivals, sex, nightmares, monstrosity, and death. With scenes from 50 rare and classic films.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Lon Chaney John Barrymore Conrad Veidt Mary Philbin Laura La Plante
  • Directors: Paul Leni Wallace Worsley
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: KINO VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: October 9, 2007
  • Run Time: 426 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000V3IXAA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,344 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen H. Wood on October 31, 2007
Verified Purchase
Kino International's AMERICAN SILENT HORROR COLLECTION contains four silent horror classics and a 2001 documentary. The very good documentary, KINGDOM OF SHADOWS, is narrated by Rod Steiger in a quietly soothing voice and charts the rise of the horror film from 1900-1928. It is rich in film clips.

The four silent features never looked nor sounded so good as they do here, many mastered from nitrate negatives. Lon Chaney's THE PENALTY (1920) has an eerie music score and rich color tinting. It a ghoulish number, with Chaney as a double amputee crime lord in 1920 San Francisco who seeks revenge on the surgeon who cut off his legs after an auto accident as a child! This gripping melodrama's bonus material includes a tour of Chaney's makeup kit, two original theatrical trailers for other movies, the 1914 Chaney one-reeler BY THE SUN'S RAYS, surviving footage from THE MIRACLE MAN (1919), and an essay by Chaney author and scholar Michael F. Blake, among other items.

John Barrymore's DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920) is the masterpiece of this elegant horror set. His magnificent performance really holds up, especially his scary Hyde. Memorable bonuses include a 1909 audio recording of a stage performance for "The Transformation Scene", the hilarious Stan Laurel parody DR. PYCKLE AND MR. PRIDE (1925), an excerpt from the rival 1920 Sheldon Lewis version, and more. Mastered from a 35mm sepia negative, Barrymore's film has a wonderful score by Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Orchestra. Watch this one on Halloween night with a loved one.

I adore Paul Leni's THE CAT AND THE CANARY (1927), which is the grandfather of all old dark house thrillers with a reading of a will on a rainy night.
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Where to begin... Kino Video's "American Silent Horror Collection" is a good boxed set. Quality is pretty good, tho' a little spotty.

"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", John Barrymore's 1920 version has decent quality, but the music sounds a little too electronic for my taste. Picture quality, good. Shown at a faster speed than normal.

"The Cat and the Canary" (1927) has a very good picture, and the music fairly fits the action. Agin, it runs a little fast.

"The Penalty", Lon Chaney's 1920 tour de force, has a very good picture, but a lousy music score. (Michael Polher wrote this, and in my humble opinion, has no idea of themes, or pacing, or melody. Better to put on a CD of your choice when watching this film.) This film seems to run at the proper speed, which enhances the quality of this film.

"The Man Who Laughs" (1928) suffers from being run at too fast a speed, due to the Movietone (sound on film) soundtrack. This is a tender story, with Conrad Veidt giving an over the top performance. But the faster projection speed of the film tends to diminish the tenderness of the subject. Film quality varies, but is fairly good even so.

The final item in this boxed set is "Kingdom of the Shadows" a 1998 documentary narrated by Rod Steiger. While the film clips and history of horror in cinema are very good, the narration is deadly -- too soft and not very dynamic. (If you have insomnia, this is the one for you!)

To sum up: this is a good collection to own, even with some shortcomings.
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Just in time for Halloween Kino seems to be delivering a heavily discounted set of silent horror films. One is new to DVD, one is a new Kino DVD release, and the rest Kino has had around for some time at much higher individual prices than if you buy this collection. First some quibbling with the product details as currently displayed. The description I've seen says there are 5 discs, not 4. Also, I don't know where the run time of 70 minutes is coming from since each included movie is a feature-length film from the 1920's with the exception of "Kingdom of Shadows", which is a 1998 feature-length documentary about silent horror. Included is:

1. The Man Who Laughs (1928) - directed by Paul Leni. A boy, Gwynplaine, is punished for the deeds of his disobedient nobleman father by having a permanent smile carved into his face. He is left for dead, but survives. He rescues an orphaned infant girl, raises her, and becomes a clown. As the baby grows to adulthood, Gwynplaine's feelings toward her turn to love. However, he refuses to marry her because of his appearance. Meanwhile, a jester learns of Gwynplaine's true identity and informs the queen. Gwynplaine inspired the character of The Joker in the Batman comic series.

2. The Penalty (1920) - starring Lon Chaney. Chaney plays Blizzard, whose legs were needlessly amputated when he was a child. He overhears the doctors all agree to lie to cover up the mistake, and he grows up an embittered criminal out for revenge. The end takes a strange twist and is somewhat dissatisfying, but the first 80% of the film is great.

3. The Cat and the Canary (1927) - directed by Paul Leni. This is the Kino DVD debut of this film, and it will be available separately.
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