Looking for something a little… weird? Have I got a show for you.
A Zombie. A Mad Doctor. A Carnival. An Insane Asylum. Live Music. Yes, a garden of delights awaits you, courtesy of Constellation Theatre. Start with the 1920 German Expressionist silent film masterpiece Das Kabinet des Dr Caligari, and add the offbeat music of multiple award winning musician Tom Teasley, and you’ve got a fantastical evening of spookiness ahead of you.
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari has been called the first horror film, and much of this early silent film has influenced countless other films, from horror to film noir: the use of off-kilter camera angles, striking mood lighting and the surprise twist ending. Directed by Robert Weine and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Meyer, the film has long been regarded as a sharp commentary on German society of the time. Indeed, the storyline, which follows Dr Caligari (Werner Krauss) as he commits senseless murders through control of his somnambulist servant Cesare (Conrad Veidt)- really, the screen’s first zombie- must have been shocking back then. Nearly a hundred years later, it’s still a frightening film.
Tom Teasley’s live score suits it well. Using mainly a keyboard and various percussion instruments, some homemade, he shivers our spines with atmospheric creepiness. Who knew a coffee can with a steel spring through it could sound so threatening? Mr Teasley’s music for this movie isn’t terribly melodic- I would call the score more accompaniment than a musical score- but it broadens our appreciation of the film. And the film itself is as nonrealistic in style- in a sharp departure from most films of the age, it was filmed with painted sets that mirrored the Expressionist art designs of the era. Off centered doors, floors painted in twisted spirals, and sharp shadows painted directly onto the set gave it a nightmare quality. Add Mr Teasley’s…