Paul (Golem) Wegener's first talkie is a glorious horror comic that plays like Great Moments of Expressionist Fantasy. Poe and RL Stevenson are so much grist to its pulp-fiction mill: it knocks off a creditable Black Cat in the first ten minutes, and then races through a waxwork chamber of horrors and an insane asylum to put Charenton in the shade, before climaxing breathlessly in The Suicide Club. Villainous Wegener storms through mass murder, incitement to murder, alchemy, sedation, a guillotining, and even a den of sci-fi gadgetry on the way; the amusingly stolid hero never knows what hit him. Incredibly, the film has virtually no reputation.
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