The blog's delayed because Chikara lobotomized me on Sunday, but fun is done and it's time to get back to work...with THE MAGICIAN, a contemporary of SVENGALI and ancestor of BLOODSUCKING FREAKS. In that it details the machinations of a middle-aged man who uses his dark charisma to enrapture a gal for purposes of production, in this case the creation of new life. But there are no ballets or guillotines or penis sandwiches.
You can see why Margaret Dauncey is Paris's hottest sculptor, but her engineering skills lag behind her design prowess. The sculpture splinters and a big chunk of it lands on her and she makes this face:
Then handsome Dr. Burdon saves her life and also keeps her out of a wheelchair and she falls in love with him. This in itself is sufficient to make a classic story, right, fellow romance novel fans? But THE MAGICIAN swings sharply from Pregnant by the Reconstructive Nerve Surgeon territory into horrordom when the title character shows up.
This lumpy gentleman is Oliver Haddo, a stand-in for Aleister Crowley in the Somerset Maugham novel from which this is derived. There's also an incredible Blood Ceremony song about him. His goal is Frankenstein-style life creation and the recipe calls for a fair woman to be added to the pot. So the magician uses his magician powers to hypnotize Margaret, marry her, and turn her into a sort of blackjack croupier babe before the sacrifice begins.
I wasn't too engaged by this. Everything's competent and Paul Wegener is menacing enough as Haddo, but the plot isn't so special and what horror is here seems kind of bland. Some of the visuals were impressive, particularly the MACISTE-like journey to a sparsely-populated hell...
...but a lot of THE MAGICIAN seems pretty lifeless. If it's a little unfair to judge a 1926 movie on leers and staircases when those elements weren't so overused at the time of its release, well, sorry. I don't have access to a time machine and can only go with my 2013 iFeelings. And my feelings say, it's okay, but not that ambitious or good. Except for the phallic castle, that was fantastic.
TOP TEN OF THE 1920S:
1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
2. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
3. The Unknown (1927)
4. Maciste in Hell/Maciste All'Inferno (1925)
5. The Wind (1928)
6. A Page of Madness (1926)
7. The Cat and the Canary (1927)
8. Genuine: the Tale of a Vampire (1920)
9. The Magician (1926)
10. Wolf Blood (1925)