God Rock Radio #268 – American Silent Horror Cinema – The 1920’s

A companion to last season’s highly acclaimed and popular mini-series on the history of The Silent Scream (1894-1919) . Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia travels back to Hollywood Land in the bygone days of the roaring twenties and the time of the silent cinema’s maturity. First up , its Lon Chaney – who became a superstar by hiding his face and distorting his body in a cinematic spectacle of suffering. Blessed with a gift for pantomime and an aura of romantic agony he searched for ever more difficult and strange roles that would drive him way beyond the normal call of acting and cinema.  Then its director – Tod Browning , who would draw upon his youthful days working in the Carnival universe. He often focused on themes of sex-charged resentment and smoldering revenge melodramas that would push the grotesque to extremes achieving a perverse sexuality and dream like quality that rivaled any European filmmakers. Next up, its an in depth look at the Haunted House cycle of films, comedy chillers influenced by and adapted from Broadway plays. That used horror as a type of cinematic seasoning , while giving the opportunity for filmmakers to raise a few goosebumps and gasps from the audience. Jack examines everything from lost gems , to little known obscurities and genuine classics- oddly enough it was European immigrants who showed themselves to be the Masters of American Silent Horror cinema’s Gothic formulas and haunted house spoofs. Directors like – Paul Leni , who crafted superb expressionistic Gothic melodramas and comedic horrors and – Benjamin Christensen , who turned the haunted house chiller into a cinematic symphony of light and shadow. 

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