Welcome to Public Domain Theater, your home for the wonderful world of films that have (in the United States, at least) fallen into the public domain, and are free for everyone to see!
As I write this, a chill has settled over the land. Trees are becoming barren, their skeletal branches exposed to the midnight frost. The air now carries the faint odor of decay, grotesquely alluring. You have only to step outside, walk beneath the waning moon, hear the melody of dead leaves and a forlorn wind, and you can believe that this is a season bewitched. That restless spirits, of those who are dead, and of those beyond death, are now scratching at the walls of our reality. That the time will soon come when every fearsome specter, glimpsed only in the depths of nightmare, will crawl forth from the shadowed places beneath the earth and make this world their own.
God, I love it so.
In honor of this spookiest season of all, Public Domain Theater is pleased to present one of the all-time classics of horror cinema. It’s the first film to adapt Bram Stoker’s blood-curdling tale of vampirism, Dracula, cast through a lens of German Expressionism and lingering trauma from the flu pandemic then only a few years past. Yes, it is none other than F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu!
But one horror classic is not enough to usher in this Halloween season. To go with Dracula’s first appearance on film, we also have the film debut of that other Titan of terror. In this short from 1910, audiences first saw Mary Shelley’s creation brought to horrific life, bore witness to the tragedy and the horror that is … Frankenstein!
Check the latches on your windows. Keep a wooden stake close at hand. Hold your breath as we pass by that graveyard, and enjoy these spine-tingling offerings from the public domain!