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Worth A Look: 37.5%
Just Average: 3.13%
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Sucks: 3.13%

2 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
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by Zarathustra

"Feels like the Edgar Allan Poe story Poe never wrote"
4 stars

This post-First World War German silent movie, directed by Robert Wiene, is considered a classic of Gothic horror. It's so old (made in 1919) that few people outside of film critics and movie buffs have seen it.

Evil Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) hypnotizes the somnambulist Cesare (Conrad Veidt), and forces him to commit murders in the night. Ordered to kill a beautiful girl (Lil Dagover), Cesare kidnaps her instead.

The characterizations are deliberately campy and often more comical than scary. The plot, of course, is quite silly, morbid and sadistic, in the same way that Edgar Allan Poe's stories are. Yet, like Poe's fiction, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI is strangely compelling: the acting style is dated yet entertaining, maybe because the performers know how "tasteless" and lurid this melodramatic material is.

Visual style matches nightmarish substance, which is probably why the movie endures with critics if not with audiences. The set design is very memorable. The disjointed, schizoid, fragmented interiors look like they were conceived by a designer as deranged as Caligari himself. Kafka's THE TRIAL should unfold in settings like these, and Wiene might have been the ideal director for a Kafka screen adaptation. And yet Kafka's writings were all published posthumously, too late to have influenced CALIGARI or any of its darkly surreal contemporaries.

It's dated and yet not dated. It feels like a period piece, yet the striking, creepy visuals make their presence felt. And despite being 80 years old, CALIGARI has a complicated flashback scheme as modern as PULP FICTION or THE USUAL SUSPECTS.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=4266&reviewer=213
originally posted: 05/28/00 05:24:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2015 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/07/16 mr.mike Wunnerful Wunnerful 5 stars
8/04/07 TANCP Love it. The remake was crap. Veidt and Wiene are great. A true gothic-horror classic. 5 stars
12/29/06 David Cohen Unfortunately we will never see anything like this in a movie again 5 stars
2/12/06 Magda brilliant!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/22/05 Man of No Name EXCELLENCE 5 stars
6/23/05 DM Surprisingly creepy and wonderful to look at. 5 stars
12/10/04 Saara Salmi genuinely scary ja beautifully made 5 stars
9/19/04 ben expressionistic movies rock!!! 4 stars
7/17/04 horror_blood What the hell is wrong with that place!? It looks like Dr. Suess's nightmare!!!! 5 stars
6/27/04 mel great sets and camera work;story was hard to follow 3 stars
7/23/03 Kyle Weird. 4 stars
6/07/03 earl hoffert that sleepy guy gives me the nightmares 5 stars
3/10/03 Charles Tatum Very creepy, love the sets! 5 stars
9/25/02 Kate It was grate with the gothic angles, it reminged me of a really dessurbed Dr. Susse 4 stars
1/27/02 ivana see this film. and if you think it's "total crap" then you're an idiot. 5 stars
1/07/02 Unicorn2382 a pretty interesting piece of film history. 4 stars
2/07/01 Diane Amazing movie; it really works on the viewer in a physiological way. 4 stars
1/28/01 Simon Vanhuffel This film is really worth a look. It's an old film but it's really worth watcing at!!! 4 stars
10/02/00 John Stack Too goofy to follow 1 stars
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  19-Mar-1921 (NR)
  DVD: 24-Sep-2002



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