The Telltale Heart
Directors: Charles F. Klein
& Leon Shamroy

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The silent horror film The Telltale Heart (1928) is twenty-four minutes long, in the manner of German Expressionism inspired by The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920), inspiration also for both 1928 versions of The Fall of the House of Usher.

While the biggest American silent film studios were ignoring these sorts of ultra-stylized horror films, smaller filmmakers were unable to resist the potential for beauty to comingle with terror.

A black cat appears against a silhouetted backdrop of a crooked village. Inside one of those eerie leaning houses a madman opens a queerly shaped door & with lantern in hand creeps upon the harmless, sleeping, blind old man he seeks to kill.

The actor playing the killer is Oto Matieson, who looks a great deal like Edgar Allan Poe, if not Johnny Depp. His housemate has come to horrify him due to one of his eyes looking like the eye of a vulture. His obsession has turned to madness, so that finally he cannot restrain himself. Fixing his attention on the old man's frightened beating heart, the madman strangles his victim.

The beating heart is stilled. That one white eye has lost its glint. Soon the body is interred underneath the floorboards of that bent & leaning room.

The peacefulness he experiences lasts only a short while. Two officers of the law arrive to investigate a neighbor's report of a scream the night before. They are at first highly suspicious of the young man, but are slowly convinced there was nothing of consequence to look into, & seem almost willing to befriend the fellow they at first mistrusted.

But as he entertains the detectives, he begins to deteriorate before their eyes, believing he hears a loud beating heart coming from under the floorboards. He bobs his head & taps his feet to the awful rhythm, & comes completely undone.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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