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The Legacy Of DR. CALIGARI, Noirvember Horror And MORE!
The Bite #84

The Legacy Of DR. CALIGARI, Noirvember Horror And MORE!

November 12, 2019

In this Issue:


By Ariel Fisher*

It’s November which, for some film fans, means it’s time for the ultra-hashtaggable month-long celebration of all things Film Noir: #Noirvember. Folks tend to think of the genre as smokey bars, jazz, and dangerous dames, but it’s actually far more complex. With its roots firmly planted in German Expressionism and Horror, Film Noir can be traced back to a microbudget studio film from Weimar Germany that would completely change the face of cinema – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Featuring Werner Krauss as the titular Caligari, the film follows the not-so-good doctor and his future-telling somnambulist sideshow act, Cesare, as they perform in a small German village. But just as soon as they came to town, the murders started, and no one can tell if it’s Cesare or Caligari that’s to blame.

Referred to by Pauline Kael as “one of the most famous films of all time”, the 1920 silent film is widely considered one of the first feature-length horror films ever made. It also marked the beginning of German Expressionism, a genre born out of an oppressive studio system following the end of the first World War. Its trademarks were expressionistic sets, makeup, and costume design all used as a rejection of Western tropes while depicting a wildly distorted reality for emotional effect.

In one fell swoop, Caligari gave birth to two of the most dramatic and stylistically unique film genres in history. The hyper-stylized sets meant to evoke a sense of madness were partially created out of necessity due to budgetary constraints, with most structures painted on angularly-cut flats. This innovative and industrious technique would become standard practice for both Horror and Noir, where angular lighting and harsh shadows could be used to hide a lack of finances.

A great many Noir films actively engaged with horror thanks to the influence of Caligari. Titles like Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker (1953), Cat People (1942), The Lodger (1944), Diabolique (1955), and Night Of The Hunter (1955) straddled both genres, creating visually stunning horror masterpieces. Many of the original Universal Monster films took directly from the visual style of Caligari, such as Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). But its influences didn’t stop there. Well into the 1960s and beyond, films like Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Exorcist (1973), Jacob’s Ladder (1990), and The Babadook (2014) would pull from Caligari’s legacy for their visual and thematic tropes.

Nearly 100 years after its release, Robert Wiene’s German Expressionist film about the horrors of the mind remains one of the most significant achievements in film history, with Film Noir and Horror to show for it.

Happy #Noirvember!

*Ariel Fisher is the editor of The Bite. She is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Fangoria Magazine, Rue Morgue, and Birth.Movies.Death. She has a monthly column on /Film called Queering The Scene.


Image Of The Week #84 - Ida Lupino The Hitch Hiker - The Bite

Invite Death Into Your Car

In honor of #Noirvember, here’s a wicked behind-the-scenes picture from the set of legendary actress and filmmaker Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker (1953). She was the only female filmmaker of her era in the genre and made what’s widely considered a Noir Horror classic.



Harry Potter Horror fans rejoice – you can now find out which house your favorite horror villains would call home thanks to Screen Rant. Ghost Face is totally a Slytherin.

Mike Flanagan explains how Doctor Sleep pays its respects to Mick Garris’ The Shining TV miniseries.

/Film looks back on the original reception of The Shining in 1980, and it’s not what you’d expect.

Mike Flanagan promises thatThe Haunting of Bly Manor will be markedly scarier than Hill House, which will be peppered with ghost stories. Because apparently some folks complained.

IndieWire writes about how Ari Aster, Robert Eggers, and Jordan Peele are fixing Hollywood with horror.

In killer trailer news, we got our first real look at The Invisible Man, and we are not ready for Elizabeth Moss’s performance.

Nicolas Pesce’s The Grudge finally has a trailer, and it’s so scary we can’t stop rewatching it. Is it January yet?

According to CinemaBlendthese classic movies deserve the Doctor Sleep sequel treatment. Frankly, we’re cool with just one: Rosemary’s Baby.

Horror may stress some people out, but for others, it eases their anxiety.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, so add these holiday flicks to your watch list.

SyFy Wire asked the tough question – is JAWS really a horror film? Yes, yes it is. Ok, not so hard.

Robert Eggers FINALLY settles the “VV” versus “W” debate regarding The Witch.

There’s a new iteration of A Christmas Carol coming our way from the BBC, and it promises to be truly terrifying.

Since it’s just about that season, get started on your holiday shopping early with the ultimate gift guide for the horror fan in your family.

Behold a complete breakdown of horror movies by Myers-Briggs types. You know, in case you ever wanted to know. (We did.)

Things We Love #84 - The Lighthouse Grooming Kit - The Bite


Swab the deck and smell your best with A24’s The Lighthouse grooming kit , complete with mermaid-shaped soap and Wickie Oil. It’s just beard oil, but you know we love a fun name.


Unbinged: American Horror Story And Creepshow Are Killer Television, Daybreak Not So Much

The 25 Best Films of Fall Festival Season 2019 (Dogs Don’t Wear Pants, which Shudder recently picked up for 2020)

Best Horror Movies Coming In November 2019 (Nekrotronic)

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