THE CABINET OF CALIGARI (1962) Reviews and overview

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The Cabinet of Caligari is a 1962 British/American horror film directed by Roger Kay (The Twilight Zone) from a screenplay by Robert Bloch, author of the novel Psycho. The film’s cinematographer was John L. Russell, who also worked on Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho (1960) based on Bloch’s novel.

Although the film has a title that is very similar to that of the acclaimed silent horror film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920), it shares very few similarities, except for the main plot twist.


Main cast:

Glynis Johns (Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School), Dan O’Herlihy (RoboCop 2; Halloween III: Season of the Witch), Richard Davalos (Something Wicked This Way Comes; Legacy of Blood), Lawrence Dobkin (Them!),

Motorist Jane Lindstrom has a blowout and seeks assistance at an estate owned by Caligari, a very polite man with a German accent. After spending the night she finds that Caligari will not let her leave; he proceeds to ask some personal questions and shows her distasteful pictures.


Prevented by guards from leaving, and unable to telephone, Jane seeks allies among the other guests but finds only three possible candidates: the older Paul, the younger Mark (for whom she has romantic desires), and a lively elderly woman named Ruth.

After seeing Ruth tortured, Jane goes to Paul who convinces her to confront Caligari. Jane does so and tries to seduce him, as she suspects he has been spying on her in the bath. After that fails, Caligari reveals that he and Paul and are one and the same person and Jane runs down a corridor of wildly shifting imagery that acts as a transition.


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” … has themes of fetishism, voyeurism, disorientation and discomfort: essential ingredients for great horror movies … Surprisingly for a TV director, he [Roger Kay] used the widescreen format like a master, and some sequences were quite daring in concept and execution for 1962, such as handheld shots and photo montages that meld into live action.” Doug Bonner, Boiling Sand

” … delivers a neat update on the German-Expressionist classic, with beautiful black and white cinematography, bizarre and entertaining dialogue, and some truly odd images that will stay in your mind for quite a while.” Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies


“… comes complete with distorted sets, much higher lunacy, and a striking performance from O’Herlihy. The result is perversely fascinating.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

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