Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Secrets of the Heart

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading List? The idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured books, (and I still do), that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would be reading or interested in reading.

It started with one review, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

Secrets of the Heart (The Ravensmoore Chronicles #1) by Jillian Kent

This book is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers.

Madeline Whittington is the daughter of the deceased Earl of Richfield. She has been deeply depressed and heartbroken since her father’s passing, along with her siblings’ passing, and has just ended a year-long period of mourning. Her best friend, Hallie, Lady Gilling, a widow, is trying to get her out and about but Madeline is still suffering.

Life is grey…

Devlin Greyson, is also suffering, but not deaths but from people bullying him and not wanting to befriend him because of his new title, Earl of Ravensmore. As the second son, Devlin had never planned to be the Earl, but instead wanted to pursue his dream of being a doctor. After his brother passed, he received the title, and to the chagrin of the ton he has decided to forgo what is expected and continue his doctoral studies.

Madeline is feeling lost and spends her days meandering the property by walking or on horseback. She is deeply troubled when she discovers a a mute girl on her property that looks as if she has been suffering from terrible things, she decides to help her-hiding and feeding “Brown Eyes”. This gives her something new to devote her attention to as home is not so pleasant with her mother’s new beau, Lord Vale. Lord Vale claims to be her late father’s friend, but Madeline doesn’t know him or trust him and she has a bad feeling about him. He is just too slimy and creepy.

Madeline continues in this despondent way, not going to any parties or events as she doesn’t want to be involved with what the ton likes. The grief she encountered from the loss of her family coupled with seeing the heartbreak her mother faced, she never wants to be married, but then what is left for her? What should she do with her life?

Hallie doesn’t mind her friend wanting to do something else, but is worried over her despondency and hoping to spark some light in her, she has invites her to join the latest hunt. Although Madeline is not into hunting, she agrees to go as she enjoys horseback riding. During the hunt Madeline gets injured and Devlin is introduced and looks in on her as she has injured her arm, but Madeline is not having it. She wants zero to do with Devlin as he killed her father.

Relax, Devlin is not a murderer, but he was the physician-in-training who was unable to help as her father arrived too far gone.  Devlin instantly falls for Madeleine, but is unable to start any relationship with her as she hates the very sight of him. She’d rather be concussed and lying on a field with a broken arm than receive any help from him. In fact she only gets treatment because of the insistence of her friends.

Wow!

So this wouldn’t be a gothic novel if it didn’t have a creepy building and the creepy building in this one is Ashcroft Asylum. The Asylum is located behind Madeline’s home and guess which creepy dude is in on board and in charge of a lot of asylum decisions? Lord Vale.

One day when Lord Vale is visiting the Countess, Madeline’s mother, he talks about a missing mute murderess, a child. Madeleine figures out it is “Brown Eyes”, but doesn’t believe him as the girl is so nice. Madeleine does all she can, but unfortunately the little girl is discovered and sent back to the creepy Asylum.

Creepy…

Ashcroft Asylum continues its creepy grasp as it holds dread for Devlin as well. His mother went insane and his father sent her away to the asylum where she passed away. Devlin does all he can to stay far away from it, and the fear of mental illness has a strong grip on him.

One day he can no longer avoid it as his school gets a call that the asylum is in need of medical assistance and his instructor volunteers Devlin. When Devlin looks at the wounded inmates, he feels very suspicious of the “self-inflected” wounds, they have but without any concrete proof nothing can be done. Fearing that there is something not right going on in the facility, he decides to tell his instructor and have him check up on it.

Hmm…

Hallie and Madeline run into Devlin and his fellow trainee Melton repeatedly, with Hallie and Melton being very interested in each other, but Madeline doing all she can to get rid of Devlin. Devlin honors her requests as a suitor, but as a doctor he feels he must check up on her health after the horseback riding incident, and then a later carriage accident. On one such visit to see that her arm is healing properly, the two go horseback riding (Madeline’s insistence) and when they return they discover Madeleine’s mother is gone!

She has eloped with Lord Vale to Gretna Greene.

They run after them, but are too late. They have been married and Madeline has a wicked stepfather. Madeline becomes so angry at it all, that when Devlin goes to check on her mental and physical state he discovers she has a gun, one she had wanted to use to keep Vale from marrying her mother. Devlin comforts her and helps her return home, but his visits stop as he will be busy with the upcoming tests to complete his training, leaving her alone in her thoughts.

Vale and her mother return and Vale slimily slips into every part of their lives, taking over. He even volunteers Madeline to help at the asylum, teaching two young boys who are awaiting transport. In doing so Madeline starts to see what really goes on in the asylum: uncleanliness, lack of food being given to the inmates, etc. Vale “listens” and agrees to consider her requests of going through the head of the Asylum’s practices and having  doctor check the inmates, but his compliance seems very out of character and as benefactor, does he really not know what is going on?

Hmm…

Madeleine finds herself attracted to Devlin, and turning to her with her problems, but she still doesn’t want to be with him if he is a doctor. She insists Devlin tell her what happened with her father, and when he reveals the truth, he wasn’t too far gone it turned out that her father didn’t like how tight the tourniquet was and when the doctors were busy with other patients, he loosened it and bleed to death.

From The Wolf Man (1941)

Madeleine is furious at this statement and refuses to believe him. She tells Devlin she never wants to see him again and refuses letters, calls,  etc. all contact from him.

Of him

Madeline continues to fall into depression and melancholia.

Life is grey…from Anna Karenina (1948)

Then Madeleine’s mother grows very sick wasting away. Madeleine immediately grows suspicious of Vale and tries to get her away and send for Devlin. When Vale uncovers this, he sends her packing to the asylum.

In the asylum she encounters the horrors of the asylum:

The Wolfman (2010)

She also finds out the deep secrets that lie in the asylum and has to fall victim to the horrors of the asylum, Will she get out, or be stuck in the dreaded place forever?

Hmm…

Will her mother be saved, or will she die by the plotting of the dastardly Vale?

Hmmm…

And what terrible secrets does the asylum hold?

Hmm…

So this was a really interesting book as it talked a lot about grief and depression, and showed realistic reactions to it. I used to work with grieving people and we see parents and children hating doctors after their loved ones died, depression, isolation, wanting to not be involved romantically because of fear, pushing away from new people, starting a new relationship (the mother), etc. It’s actually nice to read about her being lost and confused but trying to journey through.

The conditions of the asylum were truly terrifying. And the way that people could so easily be thrown in one, made me think of The Woman in White. (An amazing book, you should definitely check out!).

This is of course a romance, so the end was a bit quickly resolved in a happy way but I still enjoyed it. I thought it was cute and mysterious.

This is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers as the character of Madeliene reminds me of Marianne Dashwood. Like Madeleine, Marianne has just encountered the death of her father and her whole world changed. With the estate entailed she and her sister lose their house, some of the furnishings, friendships, position in society, and have to move to a place rented to them out of the kindness of their hearts. Like Madeleine she is a whirlwind of passion and emotion, and also like Madeliene rejects a suitor adamantly. Madeline rejects Devlin believing him to have killed her father ad hating all doctors in general, while Marianne thinks Colonel Brandon is too old and not passionate-yet they both end up with those guys who patiently love them from afar.

As I said a good book to read.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Cat Burglar Black

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Homespun Bride

For more Gothic Fiction, go to The Poison Diaries

For more stories with asylums, go to Trapped in a Mansion in the Middle of Nowhere with a Psycho: The Cat and the Canary (1939)

An Insane Doctor, A Hysterical Herbalist, and Murder in a Magician’s Mansion + A Possible Persuasion Reference?

Ready for any case

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow and ideally connecting it to Jane Austen.

Mystery, you say?

In January, I wasn’t sure what to do when I received a goblin in my mailbox.

It turned out to be a a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

Ah, mysterious

So the last package seemed to be saying that there is something wrong with 27 East Heath Road

Haunted house!

The architect, Henry Griggs, had been going crazy trying to finish building the house, after his wife died-using all his money. He even felt as if something was there making him continue, something altering his plans, something controlling him.

The house was almost complete, but Griggs has descended into some kind of madness.

“The madness in the walls must not escape…I fear I shall be gone altogether…I fear harm may come to her [Lizzy]  if she is not sent to safety.”

He ends up putting his daughter in an orphanage and Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Or is it?!

This package contained a lot of items and goes on a bit:

  • 1 Deed
  • 1 Letter from Dr. Jack S. Aigner
  • 4 Small Memorandum/ Doctor’s notes from Dr. William Elliot
  • Arsenic Druggist Note
  • A Page from Baldwin’s Physician’s Guide
  • 1 Large Memorandum/ Doctor’s notes from Dr. William Elliot
  • Dr. Elliott’s Tincture Receipt
  • 1 Poster for The Great Goodyear
  • 1 Great Goodyear flip book that showcases two of his illusions
  • Garden Diary of Héléne Ashworth
  • Elise Face Cosmetiques Label
  • Newspaper Clipping
  • A page from Charles Dickens’ The Chimes

So first of all, I saw Dr. Walter Elliott on the letters:

And as a Jane Austen fan my mind went:

This is 1888, I am going to believe this is Mr. Elliot’s great or great-great grandson, named after Sir Walter. I mean I don’t know if he married Mrs. Clay, but I do know that eventually he would have to secure his family line and inheritance.

So Dr. Walter Elliot, descendent of Mr. Elliot, has purchased 27 East Heath Road and everything inside the building for £420 sterling. I think he will regret this…

So Dr. Elliot has a conservatory and grows herbs but according to his former instructor Dr. Jack S. Aigner, Dr. Elliot is sensitive, insecure of whether or not he is a good doctor, creates different tonics and medicines; AND medicates/tests himself. Uh, oh. Oh no, that does not sound good.

Dr. Aiger mentions the room he is using to treat patients and that it holds a mirror, but it is placed strange on the wrong wall. It should be behind the patient, not in front, but it will be good if he wants to try self-hypnosis. There is a young girl he is trying to help that is an interesting case. Hmm…could it be Elizabeth Griggs?

Then we have Dr. Elliot’s notes on the patient, although not all of them. He mysteriously chose to remove the notes in his patient from September 1889-October 1891, us picking it up in October 1891.

His patient is interesting…she wants to be in the room alone and when he stepped out as she said she heard footfalls in hallway, she moved the flowers in the office, why?

She likes the tincture he gave her, which pleases him as he is really getting the use out of his conservatory.

The next notes are from February 1889, and we are given that the name is on Beth Siggers 15 years old. The DOB is inked out, but we know it is 1874. Could this be Elizabeth Griggs? Just her name changed so the Doctor doesn’t connect it to the architect if the house?

Hmm…

Beth comes to see Dr. Elliot because she is suffering headaches and shortness of breath, but when she came in she would not sit, instead touching and knocking into everything-walls, tables, the mirror, etc. Searching…but for what? He thinks she faked the illness but why? He gives her some tincture and she leaves.

Weird…

March 1889

Beth continues to return to the Doctor’s office, but every time she has a different ailment. Obviously she is suffering from a mental issue rather than a physical ones, but what and why?

She returns another time and says she left her bag behind, but when he finds her he sees she isn’t in the reception area but on the main staircase as she got “turned around”. Strange behavior, the doctor prescribes tonic.

Hmmm…

April 1889

She seems much better, although she is fixated on the mirror. The doctor looked at it and thought he saw a face in it, but that is just nonsense. He gives her 1/2 bottle of tonic.

She returns later complaining the tonic is too strong, and Dr. Elliot watered it down and 1/2 the dose-1/4 tonic. It’s strange, he notices the hallway door is ajar. That keeps happening every time Beth comes to his office.

Spooky…

May 1889

Beth returns, upset and acting strange: pulse elevated and pupils dilated. Dr. Elliot thinks it is just “spring fever” and gives previous mixture and dosage.

Hmm…strange

June 1889

Beth has been by again and Dr. Eliot thinks he saw a figure in the mirror, again. He has always hated the way the mirror was fixed in the wall. He searches, but there is nothing there. Dr. Elliot begins to worry that maybe the tincture he took and tested on himself might be giving him hallucinations.

July 1889

Dr. Elliot has decided to no longer see Beth. He tells her and later that evening he discovers she has hid in the parlour…weird why? She begs him to let her come back and he agrees for one more time.

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!! Something is wrong with this girl-you need to get way from her.

January 1892

Dr. Elliot feels watched and puzzles over the patient. Maybe he should stop seeing her, nothing seems to be changing.

YES!!! STOP SEEING HER SOMETHING ISN’T RIGHT!! But of course he won’t listen. He will continue and things are going to go wrong.

February 1892

Things are getting worse. After Beth comes poking on walls, knocking here and there, looking in corners, seeing things that aren’t there, Dr. Elliot too starts to feel as if there are spirits, ghosts, or something in the house. He tries to talk himself out of it but wonders.

He continues his experiments and taking the tincture. Oh no Dr. Elliot, don’t test on yourself!

In another set of letters from February 1892 to Jack, Dr. Elliot mentions a page with ciphers from Baldwin’s Physcian’s Guide. The page is included with these lines underlined:

“…what can be gained from inclusive speculation on the subject?”

“…physiognomy is mere judgement, assumption, and, in some cases, coincidence.”

On the back is an image that looks out of the Grimm texts and has some strange ciphers on it.

In his letter he has figured out what two of the symbols mean, an E & R.

Meanwhile, Griggs’ daughter, Beth, continues to see the doctor and every visit something odd happens. The flowers espechially always seem to be moved.

Beth keeps talking about something she sees under hypnosis so Dr. Elliot decides to test it and takes extra tincture.

Don’t Do it!!! Stop!!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

There is a receipt for his tincture and on the back it says:

“You’ve got the right bottle, doctor.” With a bunch of symbols.

DON’T DO IT!!!!!

Dr. Elliot gets some cramps but about 30 mins in, he sees a figure in the mirror, or looking to come out of the mirror…

He leans toward the mirror and the figure was gone. He searched the house for it and found the dispensary unlocked, even though he always locks it.

He decides to increase the dose and do it again, adding to his letter later-he does and it says:

“I see it! It comes…”

And that is the end of Dr. Elliot. I’m assuming he died. Poor guy, you shouldn’t have tested on yourself-you shouldn’t have delved into the unknown, espechially on your own.

You’re crazy!
Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

There is no more correspondence, we then switch to the second half of the package.

Time to get on the case!

The next item in the package is the garden diary of Héléne Ashworth.

June 1892

The house has been sold to the Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear, and his muse, assistant, and wife Héléne Ashworth. The name sounds familiar, but I’m not sure why.

Where have I read or seen that name before?

Their friend, Lilibeth, let them know about 27 East Heath Road becoming available after the doctor died. It seems he accidentally took too much of his medicine, although some whisper it was a suicide.

Claude loves the room with the mirror in it, as it can help him to practice his tricks and Héléne loves having the conservatory as she is a gardener. She has taken inventory about the plants and discovered hemlock. Hemlock? Why would a doctor need that?

Strange…

Claude jokes about ghosts in the walls as the house does make noise, but Héléne is not afraid. She loves her new house.

Ghosts?

July 1893

Héléne’s garden is doing well except for the calla lilies and forget-me-nots she planted. Instead the hyacinth, lavender, and dragonwort are doing extremely well-even though she did not plant them. There is no way Claude did so where did they come from?

At 27 East Heath Road.

Héléne believes in the language of flowers and these ones that mysteriously appeared mean constancy, devotion, and twice twisted. Hmm…maybe it means something twice twisted in the house? Devoted to it?

Hmm…

Let’s see-hemlock was poisonous, are these too? Let me look…yes, hyacinth bulbs are poisonous and touching them causes skin irritation. So lavender is used in food and perfumes so it is okay to take, but it can cause constipation, headache, and skin irritation in some people. Dragonwort is used to stop bleeding. So again, doesn’t seem too bad.

Hmmm…

There are a lot of strange herbs Héléne doesn’t know growing as well. She also discovers two more letters of the cipher-M & Y.

Another entry:

Claude is doing extremely well and even gets to perform at the famous Egyptian Hall. Héléne is so excited to perform, but Claude wants her to quit now that they are married. Hmmm…

Meanwhile, Héléne feels watched in the house. She wants to mention it to her husband, but decides not to worry him before a big show. On a sad note all the Calla lilies died, just like their hopes for a baby.

May 1895

Héléne is no longer allowed to perform, Claude thinking that is what caused them to have a miscarriage. Try as she might the yellow hyacinth (jealousy) keeps growing, and Héléne is convinced there is a curse on this house-a curse keeping a cild from being born, her nice and kind flowers from growing, and the hyacinth strong.

Later entry:

Héléne finds more and more deadly plants-nightshade and monkshood. She also sees the gruesome figure from her nightmares. She tries to tell her husband but he doesn’t listen, saying the illusions have turned her head.

June 1895

Claude has refused two engagements and is very upset. He is convinced spies are coming into the halls and watching/copying his ideas. He continues to practice in the room with the mirror and won’t let anyone into it, not even Héléne.

Héléne is very hurt and upset as she and Claude grow farther and farther apart. Sometimes Héléne pus on the old costumes and performs in front of the plants-wishing she could still be on the stage.

Lilibet has grown worried about Héléne and has taken up spiritualism and becoming a very famous medium. Lilibet and Héléne have known each other since girlhood and Héléne decides to throw a get together and help Lilibet. I’m starting to think Lilibet is Elizabeth “Beth” Griggs. Maybe Héléne was in the orphanage? I’ll check. The records say she is, ah “…the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life” (A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) is Elizabeth Griggs.

And it is “…our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” (A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Mystery, you say?

September 1895

Liliibet otherwise known as Mrs. Alizbeta Divak has asked Hélene to join in. Helene has created the character Madame Solandra, wears black bombazine, and pale makeup that comes from the Elise makeup company. There is a label from Elise Cosmetiques and it has a message on the back:

“YOU THINK TO HIDE YOURSELF FROM ME?”

Followed by the ciphers.

Claude does not approve of spiritualism, Helene has to hide it from him.

November 1896

They held the seance but things did not go as planned, A real spirit came from the mirror shouting at them “interlopers! Be gone!”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

When Héléne did the automatic writing it was if someone else was controlling her. Helene faints and when she awakens, it is Lilibet giving her smelling salts.

Oh no, the smelling salts were poisoned with the Doctor’s medicine.

Nooo

Lilibet preetends it didn’t happen, but Héléne knows it was real. She however feels very sick.

December 1896

Helene is still sick and supposed to be in bed, but has found a strange hidden doorway and secret hidden rooms in the house  But is it real? She is fading in and out and unsure.

But no! She found it! She has found a secret door in the conservatory, as soon as she is stronger she will investigate it!

Time to get on the case!

January 1897

Helene’s passage is a strange one. She believes the phantom is walking the house and Claude has all but disappeared. Is there a spirit in her home? A man? Or is her husband gaslighting her?

Gaslight (1944)

And all her flowers were ripped up? Why would the phantom want to do that?Why put dirt on her hands after?

Claude is yelling and locking Helene in her room refusing Lilibet to come in. But she has found a way out. She will follow the wallpaper and escape that way…

That is the last entry in the journal.

This felt a lot like The Yellow Wallpaper, the short story where the lady goes mad and her husband locks her up (or did her husband lock her up and then she went mad?)

Hmmm…is there a phantom or just an evil husband?

Gaslight (1944)

Next we have a newspaper clipping “Murder at the Mad Magician’s Mansion”. 

The wife of The Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear, has been found dead in her home, found by her husband when he returned from performing.

Héléne’s face was frozen in terror and the inquest found that she had been poisoned-even though she was alone in the house and it was locked up tight. But by who? And how?

Of course authorities looked at the husband first, but it was impossible for him to slip away as he was performing and his every moment had witnesses.

Hmmm…

Her body was strangely found, it looked as if she was trying to crawl out of a small under-stairs cupboard with her face frozen, and hair turned white.

It appears Claude has lost his mind at his wife’s death. He warns people of a gruesome phantom moving in his house, warning people to stay far away.

After two incidents, one of him claiming a police constable to be a monster, he was relocated to the Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

Aw, that’s sad.

And last a page ripped out of Charles Dicken’s The Chimes with the following words underlined:

“Monsters uncouth and wild, arise in premature, imperfect resurrection; the several parts and shapes of different things are joined and mixed by chance..”

“Haunt and hunt him…”

“Bleak his slumbers…”

“he saw this WITH Goblin sight…”

“…saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but waking also…”

There are more marks of the secret language written in the margin.

Hmmm…

I have been working on decoding it, and I think I’ve figures out a few letters based on what they gave me and just common sense of filling in the blanks, but there are some I am just not sure of.

Hmm…

So I am getting a Phantom of the Opera vibe from this (I love The Phantom of the Opera)

So in the original story of The Phantom of the Opera, one of Erik’s (the phantom’s) many talents was architecture and he builds the opera house-creating his secret home and all the passages, using the mirror as a door to bring Christine to his lair.

I think Henry Griggs is alive! And living in the house he built, probably a secret passage in the mirror. I’m just not sure if he is killing people because he us possessed by something or because he thinks if he does he will have his house back. I’ll have to wait and see.

Hmmm…

A lot of stuff came in this package and I did my best to try and put it all in one picture:

For more from The Mysterious Package Company, go to A Goblin in My Mailbox

For more insane doctors, go to Mr. Hyde Versus the Werewolf: Dr. Jekyll Versus the Werewolf (1972)

For more Persuasion, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more mysteries, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

For more ghosts, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

Cesare, I Am Calling You. I, Dr. Caligari, Your Master. Awaken for a Moment From Your Dark Night.: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

“Cesare, I am calling you. I, Dr. Caligari, your master. Awaken for a moment from your dark night.”

So during my very first Horrorfest I reviewed the remake of this film.

This was back before I had established the “rules” of Horrorfest, one being always review the original film first.

It was an amaaaaaazing adaption! It used the original backgrounds from this movie and was full of talented actors, I highly recommend it. It is probably one of the best remakes I have ever seen.

Wow

And you know me, I’m not a remake person.

Well, every year since then I have thought I need to review the original, and with me being in my seven year of blogging (Horrorfest VIII), it is time to actually review the original 1920 version.

So this film was influenced by the life experiences of Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Janowitz served as an officer in WWI and was very embittered by his experiences. Mayer feigned illness to try and get out of service, as he was a pacifist-and spent a lot of time in an asylum and under intense examinations. In fact, Dr. Caligari is based off a doctor that Janowitz was forced to talk to (and really didn’t like).

The two met through an actor friend of theirs and the inspiration to write the film came through Janowitz’s friend Gilda Langer. Mayer was in love with Langer, and she became the basis for the “Jane” character (the one that is in the love triangle with the two best friends.)

One day Gilda took Janowitz to a fortune teller who predicted that Janowitz would survive the war but Gilda would die. When Gilda died unexpectedly in 1920, that experience influenced the scene when Cesar predicts Alan’s death.

Spooky…

There are conflicting stories regarding who exactly wrote, planned, directed, filmed, etc-did what, something that will most likely never be settled. When this film first came ouot there were actually protests regarding the film when it showed in LA as Germany was still not very popular in 1920. People were still upset over World War I

This style of film and the background artwork reminds me of the Bauhaus movement, with its style and a bit of Metropolis. Dr. Caligari is supposed to represent the German government being in control and dictating others, while Cesare the solider-those who have been conditioned to kill. The rest of the characters are the people being lulled, hypnotized, and controlled.

The set is beautiful-painted, angles, and nothing is quite right giving the film a demented and creepy space. This disjointed feeling really adds to the question, is the main character telling the truth? Or are they insane.

So it is hard to review this film as I reviewed the amazing remake that actually copied every scene perfectly-but I’ll try.

The film starts at the end when the main character, Francis, is speaking to an old man about his fiancé. This one feels creepier than the remake as the music is completely eerie and the actors have to overact as this is a silent film. Everyone eyes bug out and they just freak you out. Serious chills!

So Francis starts sharing how his fiancé has been through such a strange event that she will never be the same again. She walks every night in a trance, and does not speak anymore. Francis starts to recount his story…

We go back in time to a city and place that we don’t know where it belongs. The backgrounds are amazing and slanted.

A man comes to the main hall to get a permit for his carnival. He calls himself Dr. Caligari, and speaks of having a psychic who can reveal all’s future. The clerk is in a BAD mood, and is extra rude to Dr. Caligari and forces him to pay an exuberant amount of money. Caligari does and walks away, but all does not seem to bode well for this clerk.

The next day he is dead. Murdered.

Then we are introduced to Alan, who is stopping by to visit his friend Francis and is begging him to partake in some kind of adventure. We learn that Alan has been combating depression and has been holing himself away these past months, even having to visit an asylum. He however, is feeling much better and convinces Francis to see the fair with him, “for old times sake”.

On the way they meet up with Jane Stern, a girl they are both madly in love with.  Both are eager to get an answer from her as to who her choice will be, but she manages to slip away and into the night. The friends say good-bye and to the fair.

They stop at the fair and see the psychic Cesare. Cesare is a “living dead” man who can foretell all. He lives in a coffin, only being released every once in a while, Cesare is really creepy-the faces he makes.

Francis wants to leave, but Alan is rooted to the floor. When Dr. Caligari calls on him to ask a question, Alan is compelled to answer. He is physically incapable of leaving or turning away. He asks Cesare his question, but all does not go well.

Alan: How long shall I live?                                                                                  Cesare: The time is short. You die at dawn!”

Francis quickly grabs Alan out of the tent and fearing a relapse in his friend, reassures him that Cesare’s tricks are stupid and do not mean a thing.

The next day Alan is dead. Murdered.

This horrible tragedy leads Francis on a path of reality so intermingled with insanity that one can hardly tell the fact from fiction. Francis is so sure that Dr Caligari killed his friend, that he becomes obsessed with finding proof. Is he trying to stop a mad killer? Or has he experienced such trauma he has reconstructed reality?

Hmmm…

So while the remake tries to leave you guessing whether it is real or not, whether he is crazy or if he knows the truth and is silenced. In this they make it clear that he is being treated in a hospital. That was a bit of a disappointment, but the film seriously deserves a watch. Those eyes, they are haunting.

Spooky…

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To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, go to A Tale So Strange It Must Be True: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2005)

For more silent films, go to In Their Proper Place: Metropolis (1927)

For more characters on the brink of insanity, go to Go Ahead and Shoot…As Far As Killing Me, Well, I Don’t Think You’re That Good a Shot: Possessed (1947)

 

The Mad Killer: Dial 1119 (1950)

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Recently escaped from the hospital for the criminally insane…the Mad Killer, Gunther Wyckoff

So one of the librarians was processing a group of donated DVDs, and I just happened to spot Film Noir Classic Collection, Volume 5. It had eight films on it: Cornered (1945), Deadline at Dawn (1946), Desperate (1947), Armored Car Robbery (1950), Backfire (1950), Dial 1119 (1950), The Phenix City Story (1955), and Crime in the Streets (1956). 

After I mentioned it would be a good film to watch, they let me be the first one to check it out. Some of the films were good and some were okay. That happens in a collection.

Oh well

Oh well

I thought this movie was really exceptional and all because of Marshall Thompson, who plays Gunther Wyckoff. He was phenomenal in playing his part. He was able to be cold, calculating, creepy; but then have moments of appearing almost innocent and a troubled boy. Not as good as Anthony Perkins in Psycho, but close.

keanu Whoa

I haven’t found a lot of pictures so this will mostly contain ones from other films and reviews. But I don’t let that stop me, let’s begin our review.

DeanSupernaturalLetsGetStarted

The film starts off with gruntled newspaperman, Harrison “Harry” D. Barnes. Harry is tired of being paid so little and working his whole life to only be in the exact same place as he started. He tells his pal that he is quitting and heads off to the Oasis bar to drink up his troubles. Because of his early departure, he misses an important announcement that Gunther Wyckoff has escaped from his institution.

OMG gasp

Elsewhere in Terminal City, Helen is leaving to go on vacation with a friend of hers. She lives with her mother, taking care of her as she has a weak heart, but is sorely in need of a break. She heads out but instead of meeting up with a her girl friend, she instead is meeting Earl at the Oasis Bar. Earl is a married salesman and the two are planning to go away for the weekend.

Mmhm great gatsby

Meanwhile, Gunther Wyckoff is headed to Terminal City. Three years ago he murdered a woman, was found to be insane, and instead of being executed, resided in the institution. But now he is out.

OhNOthisisgonnabebad

Next to him is a women traveling as well to Terminal City ands she notices that something is off about Wyckoff. Like most psychopaths he has no “normal” ways of interacting with other people.

Something about you just doesn't seem right.

Something about you just doesn’t seem right.

At the front of the bus, the driver has a gun for protection. They all take a five minute break to stretch and use the bathroom, and when they return to their traveling, the woman notices the gun is missing; and that the man next to her was the only one to remain on the bus during the break.

This is bad

This is bad

They reach Terminal City, the woman stays as long as she can and warns the driver in their native tongue about what has happened. After she leaves the driver approaches Wyckoff, and tells him to return the gun and clip. Wyckoff shoots him.

0dial_1119cshootgun

Wyckoff is extremely creepy and scary as he is so emotionless, cold, and calculated. He doesn’t freak out, break a sweat, or worry; just demolishes what is in his way.

Gilmore girls creep

Wyckoff heads out to Dr. John E. Faron, police psychologist. When no one answers his knock, he decides to go to the nearby bar to wait. The Oasis Bar.

dun-dun-duuuun

In the bar we have Harry, Helen, and Earl; as mentioned before. Also there is Chuckles the extremely pessimistic, sarcastic, and grumpy bartender/owner. His assistant/waiter Skip is the exact opposite, pleasant, kind, and optimistic. Today he is extremely worried and frantic as his wife is about to have a baby and he doesn’t want to miss a thing. In fact he didn’t even want to come to work, but his wife made him go as the baby won’t be coming for a while. She’s going to regret that decision.

ouch Hermione

There is also Freddy, a bar floozy who is drunk all day and night on anything she can get and hits on any young guy that moves.

Laura what I want No good

All are talking while Wyckoff waits. Freddy tries to hit on a big, strong, young man; but when he leaves She turns toward Skip. Skip keeps calling to see if the baby has come yet, but no luck. Helen is trying to justify what she is doing as she is lonely and unsure about if she really wants to go away with a married man. Earl is trying to get Helen drunk so she can “relax” and “settle down.” Harry gets the call about the dead bus driver, but as he has “quit” his job, he decides not to go. Too bad.

This is bad

This is bad

Meanwhile as the newsmen and police are going crazy as they are worried about Wyckoff killing again and searching for him. They locate the woman who was sitting next to him to get confirmation, and when they do flash his picture on TV.

Ringu Watch TV

Chuckles is the only one who notices the TV news flash, and knows it is Wyckoff in his bar. He looks at his gun under the bar and heads down “cleaning” to grab it. But at the last minute he changes his mind and tells Skip to take over, while he “heads in the back to get Vermouth”. Big Mistake.

gameofthronesterriblemistakerob

He goes to the phone, but doesn’t count on Wyckoff being paranoid and very suspicious. He follows Chuckles and shoots him.

0dial_1119cshootgun

Body count is at two already.

#2

#2

Afterwards, he shuts down the bar and gets the rest of the people together, they are now his hostages.

This is bad

This is bad

A couple of people walking by hear a scream from Helen, and tell the police. When an officer goes to investigate, Wyckoff shoots him in the leg.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lieutenant “Whitey” Tallman heads out to handle the situation. They set up barriers on the street and try to figure a way in.

suspicious Hmm

Wyckoff calls the police and tells them he wants Dr. Faron in 25 minuetes or he will kill everyone in the bar.

Ahhh!

Ahhh!

Lt. Whitey is very upset over all this. He was the arresting officer, he worked hard to get Wyckoff convicted for his crimes; and to have him sent to a hospital instead and be out in three years is extremely upsetting. He is furious with Dr. Faron who was the one who provided the evidence and testimony that sent him free to the hospital rather than prison and the death penalty. He has no intention in trying to get Dr. Faron involved, but in finding another way to free the hostages.

I-got-this-reaction-gif

Dr. Faron is out walking when he comes upon the huge crowd of police, newspapermen, and bystanders. He finds out that he is needed ad goes to Lt. Whitey, but Whitey doesn’t want him involved at all.

Tom-Hanks-Saying-Really

Meanwhile the group inside is trying to figure out what to do. They recognize that the gun he has holds eight rounds, two of which have been used on killing Chuckles and shooting the policeman (the earlier third one hit the bus driver but they don’t know about it). They believe him to have six (really five) left; but then he pulls out another clip and puts it in. They discuss charging at him, but think that it is not a good idea and will get them all killed.

I don't know what to do

Outside the police have come up with an idea to sneak a smaller policeman into the air conditioning to shoot at Wyckoff. Which is a bit strange to go about it.

meettheRobinsonsPlannotthoughtthrough

Dr. Faron wants to go in and speak to Wyckoff, as he believes that he won’t harm him ad that he will be able to shock him out of his delusions ad bring him into reality. The Lt. says no.

You-serious?-Not-happening-babe!

Inside the bar Harry tries to get Wyckoff to let him go, as this is the story of the year; just like his previous exploits were. Wyckoff says no and starts going on about how the government is to blame for making him this way. They gave him a gun and uniform, trained him to kill,and expected him to come back into society. He is a killing machine because of them.

While that is going on, the police work hard to get through the air conditioning. But unbeknownst to them, Wyckoff has been looking at it all night, and when it turns off suddenly he notices, and shoots at it;

0dial_1119cshootgun

killing the policeman.

#3

#3

Freddy tries to seduce him, but no dice. Wyckoff sees right through her.

do-you-think-im-stupid-do-you-not-see-the-glasses

Wyckoff has them turn on the TV so that they can see what is happening outside. They see that the Dr is there but that the Lt. won’t let him in. Harry convinces him to let him call the newspaper, and that they will get the public going and force the police to let the doctor  in. Wyckoff lets him, but the newspaper ignores him, because of his earlier conversation, they think he is just drunk and going to mouth off.

really?

really?

Wyckoff s extremely angry and trying to determine what to do next. Outside the Lt. has decided to blow open the bar and cut the lights. While they are planning, Dr. Fanroe goes in to speak with Wyckodff.

I-got-this-reaction-gif

Dr. Fanroe tries to get Wyckoff to put down the gun down but he won’t listen. You see the only reason Wyckoff came to Terminal City was because he wants to kill Dr. Fanroe.

This is bad

This is bad

Wyckoff makes everyone sit at the bar while he deals with Dr. Fanroe. Freddy notices Chuckles’ gun under the counter.

Hmm...

Hmm…

Dr. Fanrie tries to bring Wyckoff back to reality, and here Thompson shines in his acting. We discover that Wyckoff was not a soldier. He always dreamed of being one and wanted to, but they wouldn’t let him as he didn’t pass the psych evaluation. He went crazy upset and killed.

0dial_1119cshootgunkiller

Wyckoff argues with Fanroe and kills him.

#4

#4

Afterwards he looks at his hostages trying to determine who is next. While doing so the phone rings. Skip afraid that it might be his wife, rushes at Wyckoff to knock him off balance. Meanwhile the cops have set the charge blown up the door and cut the lights. Wyvkoff picks up his gun and intends to shoot them all when before he can, Freddy shoots him.

Whattheheck

 

I have to admit I never saw that one coming. The drunk saving them all? Pretty cool ending as I never would have guessed that.

Oh geez

Oh geez

Afterwards the cops come in and the people all go their separate ways. Skip to the hospital to see his newly arrived eight pound baby. Helen goes home as she believes the whole thing was an intervention from God to keep her from sinning. Earl tries to pick up Freddy and she tuns him down flat, heading to a different bar. Harry calls the desk and starts to relate the story of all that occurred. The mad killer is dead.

TheEnd_Title_2

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To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)

For the previous post, go to How To Survive A Horror Film

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For more film-noir, go to I Do Think You Are Confused Mrs. Bowman: Dangerous Crossing (1953)

For more “mad killers”, go to We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: Psycho (1960)