Horror Noir: A screening of vintage horror films

On the 15th of November, Gyaan Adab hosted a matinee triple feature of horror noir films. The films that were screened were The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922) and Carnival of Souls (1962).

All three are considered landmark films of the horror genre, and form the bedrock of many horror films that have followed in the subsequent decades.

Carnival of Souls is an American independent horror film written, produced, and directed by Herk Harvey. It was made in 1962, and has a large cult following

 Its plot follows Mary Henry, a young woman whose life is disturbed after a car accident. She relocates to a new city, where she isn’t really able to fit in, and becomes drawn to the pavilion of an abandoned carnival.

Considered an inspiration for numerous film-makers, Carnival of Souls was also heralded as being one of the best low-budget films ever to be made, with the crew consisting of only 6 people including the director himself.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 German silenthorror film, directed by Robert Wiene. Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, it tells the story of an insane hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) to commit murders. The original title cards were tinted in green, steely-blue and brown. While many modern prints of the film do not preserve the original lettering, the file used for the screening was an officially restored version, and put the emerald tones of the cards on full display.

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, or simply Nosferatu, is a 1922 German Expressionist horror film, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. Upon its initial release, Nosferatu was a raging success. Even though it was embroiled in a controversy with the Stoker estate, Nosferatu was already deeply buried in filmgoers’ consciousness, and the haunting visage of Max Schreck as the title bloodsucker has long stood as one of the most terrifying incarnations of Dracula.

Eager attendees settled into their coves, on chairs or comfortable floor seating with pillows and blankets for the long haul, blood red popcorn in hand. Breaks between the films yielded clusters of watchers discussing the plot of the film, or the vintage skills of filmmaking they portrayed. One member of the Gyaan Adab team, Luv Mahtani, really got into the spirit of the event, and masqueraded around the audience in a horrifyingly hilarious take on Salman Khan from Tere Naam. This set the tone for the light and banterous environment the event took on. 

The setting sun of the evening only enhanced the ambience of the screening, and the melancholic eerie music seemed to echo into the street like a haunting invitation. 

All in all, the audience left with smiles on their faces, with lips stained red from popcorn.