Sunday, October 13, 2013

31 Days of Halloween - Day 13 - Movie 2

Five years after an actor is mysteriously killed on stage, a producer reopens the theater, reassembles the remaining cast and crew in order to stage the same play and attempt to solve the murder. Threatening notes, moving furniture, secret passages, spiders, creepy dummies, and shifty characters add a further sense of mystery to the proceedings.

The Last Warning (1929) was the last film directed by Paul Leni before his death from blood poisoning later that same year. It was created as a companion piece for his earlier Universal film The Cat and the Canary (1927). The Last Warning shares a very similar feel to that movie. It has a tone both mysterious and humorous, a similar look, and a mystery plot with a lot of characters, all of whom are under suspicion, and a hideously countenanced villain utilizing secret passages to move around undetected. While it has it's charms, it's not as good as The Cat and the Canary, and nowhere near approaching the quality of Leni's The Man Who Laughs (1928). How the actor died was obvious to me as soon as the murder was committed and by process of logic, so was the identity of the killer. No matter, it's a pretty entertaining film and a nice example of the early horror mysteries that would swiftly give way to the proper horror films of the next decade.

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