Trick & Treat for October 22nd:
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928; starring Conrad Veidt; directed by Paul Leni)
Based on a Victor Hugo novel, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS skirts the gray line between horror and romantic melodrama. Conrad Veidt, who of course was the sinister Nazi, Major Heinrich Strasser, in CASABLANCA, plays Gwynplaine, a carnival performer whose face is doomed to wear a perpetual, devious-looking snicker or, more accurately, maniacal grin. Gwynplaine’s father once ran afoul of King James, and Gwynplaine’s never-ending smile was the subsequent punishment doled out by the King to the boy. Young Gwynplaine is then raised by a mountebank alongside a pretty blind girl, Dea (Mary Philbin). Although Dea loves Gwynplaine dearly, he is ashamed of his hideous expression and declines marriage. However, due to Gwynplaine becoming an heir to some valuable property, royal intervention via Queen Anne ensues and the plot gets as thick as a Snickers bar. Similar in some ways to the silent classic PHANTOM OF THE OPERA with Lon Chaney, this excellent film features a gruesome lead character who also happens to be one we can feel sympathy towards, and with whom we can root for. If you’re open to silent films (and you should be if you’re not) THE MAN WHO LAUGHS is packed with equal amounts of scares and sweetness.
Who wants to wait until the 31st to wallow in Halloween indulgences and scary movies?! Home Projectionist doesn’t! And so we’ll have pairings of 31 Frights and 31 Bites every one of October’s 31 nights: a scary, snack size movie “trick”, and a delicious “treat” to go along with it.