The Cabinet of Caligari (1962)

THE CABINET OF CALIGARI (1962)
Article #915 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-16-2003
Posting Date: 2-13-2004
Directed by Roger Kay
Featuring Dan O’Herlihy, Glynis Johns, Constance Ford

When a woman’s car gets a flat tire, she goes to an isolated house to get help, and then finds herself trapped inside with a mysterious doctor.

I’ve heard conflicting reports as to whether this movie was a remake of the classic 1919 Robert Wiene version, and for the most part it is not. It does, however, borrow at least one crucial element from the original, and therein lies the problem. The element that is borrowed is a plot point which is only effective if it comes as a surprise at a crucial moment in the story; however, I figured out that this plot point was coming almost five minutes into the movie, because it seemed to me to be the only logical explanation for the events that were happening. Unfortunately, knowing this plot point ahead of time short-circuits the movie in terms of suspense and horror, and as a result, I found the movie deeply uninvolving, despite the existence of strong Freudian elements and some memorable visual moments. A further problem was the casting of Glynis Johns in the lead role; her voice and facial expresssions were singularly ineffectual in helping her bring this role to life. As a result, the whole movie feels like a game, and one that wasn’t much fun. It actually might have helped, though, if they had retitled the movie and renamed one of the characters so that any connection between this one and the Wiene movie would have vanished; as it is, this movie utterly fails to surprise, and I can only consider it a disappointment.

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