The Haunted Castle (1921)
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Before plumbing the depths of horror and despair with such films as Faust and The Last Laugh, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau tested the waters with this moody drama of a storm-bound manor and the grim mystery that lurks within. A hunting party is interrupted by the arrival of a notorious Count (Lothar Mehnert), who is believed to have murdered his brother. The uninvited guest sets in motion an elaborate plot to resurrect the ghosts of the past and bring to light the dark secret that lies at the center of his brother s death. The foreboding atmosphere and psychological complexity inspired Murnau to delve deeper into the horror genre, which he did the following year, with the immortal vampire tale Nosferatu (1922).
- Gallery of set design paintings by Robert Herlth
- Excerpts of Rudolf Stratz s novel
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Top customer reviews
As far as the movies of Murnau are concerned, this is definitely a minor offering but that has to do with the material not the director. Murnau is honing his skills here which would burst forth in his next film, the legendary NOSFERATU (1922). The sets are elaborate with just a touch of Expressionism. The performances though are very Expressionistic and might be too much for someone unfamiliar with German silent film technique. The plot loosely reminds me of Jean Renoir's RULES OF THE GAME though not as refined.
THE HAUNTED CASTLE (not a horror film but a psychological study) is not the ideal place to start if you want to see what Murnau was capable of. Try NOSFERATU, THE LAST LAUGH, or FAUST for that but it is a great way to see how beautiful a silent film could be, even for one that's not a classic. In fact its lesser status may be why it has survived in such good shape since it wasn't popular enough for the prints to get worn out.
While not on par with Murnau's more well-known films, such as Nosferatu, Faust, or The Last Laugh, this one is still worth watching. The restoration is excellent with only a few scratches here and there, and as always, Kino has done a superb job in the transfer. The special features are minimal, consisting of some passages from the original novel and a few photos of set design paintings.
If you are building a collection of Murnau films or German expressionism films (this barely qualifies as one), then you need to have a copy of this.
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