The Cat and the Canary

Why do crazy old people put in their wills that in order to get their fortunes that you have to stay in their creepy house overnight? Is it because crazy old people just want every relation or benefactor to carry on the tradition of crazy or is it because they are sadistic? They always end up putting such frail young women through such screeching terror. It is wrong and I am here to stand up for these poor unfortunate souls that will never end up getting that money. If you think that you are headed down this path of becoming old, rich, and owning of a scary  house, just turn over all of your possessions to me and it will make you feel better. I will take that house and bulldoze the crap out of it.

Made by an emigrated German expressionist (Paul Leni), the darkness of the night pervades over every action the characters do and every set piece the camera focuses on. Every trope of the horror genre is presented here with a sense of refreshment. There are secret passageways, bodies falling onto people, black cats in the road, silly intertitles, and a contrived plot that could only come from a fluff piece. But it seems like Leni doesn’t care. He was done with the maudlin. He wanted the funny and it shows. Instead of focusing on the shifty eyed relatives who might pull out a gun at any moment, he highlights the scaredy cat character who looks a little too much like Harold Lloyd. He gets into many different comprising shenanigans but the camera never leaves his sympathetic eye. In the end it doesn’t really matter which of the shifty eyed characters did the killings, it just matters that the young woman gets out okay and the Harold Lloyd copycat becomes her boy.

This is light fare, but it provides a nice diversion for a weeknight. If you are interested in seeing how Mel Brooks came up with the many different little details in Young Frankenstein, I suggest you watch this film and marvel how close the creepy housekeeper looks like Frau Buchler. It is eerie. It is like Brooks planned it or something…


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