If you're a fan of films in which masked maniacs murder people in decrepit mansions, the 1927 silent humor-horror film “The Cat and the Canary” will make you jump for terrified joy. And local eclectic ensemble RPM Orchestra will tickle your ears and tingle your spine with a live musical score.
The film, an adaptation of John Willard's 1922 black comedy play of the same name, tells the story of eager would-be heirs who have gathered at a decaying mansion to hear the will of their long-dead millionaire relative Cyrus West, who decreed his will could not be read until 20 years after his death. The heir is revealed at midnight (of course), but it turns out to be a long witching hour for everyone on the estate, as a mysterious figure begins stalking them and an escapee from the local asylum, known as “the Cat,” hides in the house.
German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni employed asymetrical sets, overlapping images, close-ups and dissolves (gradual transitions from one image to another) to create a highly stylized, visual dynamic. RPM Orchestra employs an array of unconventional “instruments” – typewriters, toy pianos, Tibetan singing bowls, washboards – to create soundscapes simultaneously stark and sprawling, and always cleverly choreographed with its celluloid subjects.
RPM Orchestra will provide the film score for “The Cat and the Canary” viewing at 9 p.m. Saturday, October 10 at FilmBar. Tickets cost $12. Tickets are available online in advance and at FilmBar the night of the show.
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