How Dr. Caligari Came About

 


Films always seem that bit more interesting when you can link them back to real life events. I am sure that a film being based on true events is one of the attractions within horror; it is that bit more scary when you know that the scenes unfolding actually happened. Perhaps this is because a fear of the same happening to you is created, or perhaps it is because you have a sudden realisation that the world is more f*cked up than you choose to accept. Either way, it is a definite ‘pro’ in regards to the techniques employed in horror film.

With that in mind, it was not until recently, that I chose to do a bit of research in to the background of Robert Weine’s classic expressionism piece. Along my journey, I found out that Weine was never supposed to direct The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. Erich Pommer who purchased the original screenplay by Hanz Janowitz and Carl Mayer, originally wanted Fritz Lang to direct the production but this was not possible due to Lang’s busy schedule. Pommer crucially hired Hermann Warm to design the production, the expressionist art director made the film the greatest depiction of German expressionism ever made.

This was interesting enough to draw me in to a deeper discovery. I researched further and found out that The Cabinet of Dr Caligari was in fact based on true events and the inspiration for the film was interesting to say the least.

Late one night, Janowitz was travelling home through a seedy area of Hamburg where a fair had made a stop. He suddenly heard laughter and his attention was drawn to a woman who was disappearing in to some bushes along a path. Janowitz, trying not to draw any attention to himself, stuck around for a short while; it is then that he saw a man emerge from the same bush alone. The man walked away and that was the end of that. Well, at least until the next morning. The following morning, the newspapers were plastered with a story that told of a woman murdered in the very same area that Janowitz had been the night before. The events stayed with Janowitz for a long time and you could say that the images haunted him. Eventually, he shared the events with fellow writer, Carl Meyer; the two set about writing a screenplay based on the events that night.

So we had our somnambulist, but what about our hypnotist?

At some point throughout the writing process, Meyer shared a piece of his past that would fill in the gaps. The event from Meyer’s past involved an unsettling experience with a strange psychiatrist who wore spectacles. Sound familiar?

The two writers spliced together their past experiences and through Hermann Warm and Robert Weine’s direction, the story became what it is today. Watching the film sent chills down my spine anyway. It is a solid mix of artistic Beauty and a creepy story and seemingly a mix that was destined to disturb me to the core.

Knowing that it is loosely based on actual people and that the creepy fair actually existed disturb me further and make me appreciate this film even more.

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Mike Reiss and His Secrets of The Simpsons: Review

  

  

I know, I know, this is a horror based blog but I just need to share my feelings on last nights show for the writer in me.

Mike Reiss is one of the 23 writers on The Simpsons and the creator of Queer Duck. He politely declined to acknowledge his co-creator credit for Teen Angel – We all love it really..

  
As with Silent Hill Live, I was sceptical about travelling in to an area with a less than average reputation, but upon arrival, I was taken back by the venue and this was a huge surprise. Not because of the stories I have heard, but because I used to live around the corner from this beautiful, church-run hall and never bothered to check it out. If you had told me that Crytal Palace had an International film festival last week I would have literally rolled on the floor with laughter. Some say that ignorance is bliss, but on this occasion, it is most certainly not.

The festival is run by the nicest people that you will ever meet and that is no exaggeration. There couldn’t be a friendlier bunch of people out there and the atmosphere inside was most definitely a contrast to outside the doors of the Stanley Hall. The venue, by the way, was the first building to have electricity in Croydon. 

  
I got there 45 minutes before showtime and took my seat in the front row; I was excited. Mike Reiss was already there and this is the part that I love the most; he hung around in the crowd talking to everyone and even let someone interview him for their website. Mike, ever smiling, is the personification of happiness. He was genuinely happy to be there and I wondered if a man who is responsible for some of the funniest gags on television would be anything the same in person. 

Mike answered that right away when he took to the stage. He started by telling us that a comedy writer and comedian are very different, and within seconds, contradicted himself. Firing away with a joke about how it was like phone sex and real sex; only to tell us that one was a long, drawn out, boring experience, that ended with a soulless feeling and the other cost him £20 for 4 minutes. The crowd were fully engaged and the rest of the show didn’t disappoint. 

  
Mike regaled us with past stories about his experiences, a journey in to the ideas behind his own show – Queer Duck, a scene from The Critic – the show that didn’t do to well, and a lengthy Q&A session.

Considering that I did not know what to expect, this show was phenomenal. A genuine guy with lots of stories and a whole lot of time for the people. Mike stayed afterwards and spoke to every single attendee who had formed in a queue. He signed things and took photos and answered any questions that anyone had. I couldn’t recommend one of his talks enough.

  
The session was a huge inspiration to me and Mike Reiss is one of the biggest reasons that I will continue to pursue a career as a screenwriter. A big thanks is due to him and the people that put together the festival which is still on for another week. 

10/10

Writing Horror

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When it comes to writing horror for the screen it can be easy to get lost in, well.. everything. It is a far more complex process than one would give credit for and it always helps to have some tips.

This is a nice article that will stress how NOT to write your screenplay and it is worth taking on board what Lucy has to say if you intend to take this path. A lot of it is down to common sense really but if you are just starting out then there are some key pointers not to be missed.

Horror Screenwriting Tips – Link

Enjoy!