Unheimliche Geschichten  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Anita Berber

Unheimliche Geschichten (Uncanny Stories) is a 1932 German horror/black comedy film directed by the prolific Austrian film director Richard Oswald, starring Paul Wegener, and produced by Gabriel Pascal.

The story is a merging of Edgar Allan Poe's The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether and The Black Cat with Robert Louis Stevenson's The Suicide Club, producing a black comedy revisiting many of the classic themes of the horror genre.



A crazed scientist, Morder (Paul Wegener), driven even crazier by his nagging wife, murders her and walls her up in a basement, a la Poe's The Black Cat. He then flees as the police and a reporter, Briggs (Harald Paulsen), set out to track him down. Finally captured by the police, Morder is sent to an insane asylum. Morder then manages to free himself, lock up the guards, and release all the inmates, while he takes charge of the asylum (inspired by Poe's The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether). In command of things, Morder turns the institution into a Suicide Club (based on the short story by Stevenson). The climax of the film comes as two members of the Suicide Club fight it out in a wild duel.

The film, which succeeds as it was intended, as a parody of the golden age of German expressionist cinema (in particularly Paul Leni's Waxworks), turns out to be a surprisingly good black comedy with lots of tongue in cheek moments, helped by the presence of Wegener, himself the star of two of the genre's high points, The Golem (1920) and Alraune (1928), sending himself up. It remains on many short-lists of forgotten classics of German cinema.

Worldwide Releases

The film is also known by numerous other titles including Fünf unheimliche Geschichten (Germany), Five Sinister Stories (International: English title), Ghastly Tales (USA), Tales of the Uncanny, The Living Dead (USA), and Unholy Tales (International: English title). [1] The film was later badly re-edited for an American market release known as "The Living Dead" in 1940, with many of the comedic scenes taken out along with most of its cleverest intentions.

Unheimliche Geschichten (1919)

There is a silent horror film of the same name directed and produced by Oswald, featuring Conrad Veidt. Unlike the 1932 Unheimliche Geschichten this was an anthology film combining five stories framed by a narrative set in a book shop (a technique later used for Leni's Waxworks). The stories used were: The Black Cat; The Suicide Club; Anselme Heine's Die Erscheinung; co-scripter Robert Liebmann's Die Hand; and Oswald's own Der Spuk. It is considered a lost film.


  • This was Paul Wegener's first talking movie.
  • Three of Stephen King's anthology books are published in German under the subtitle Unheimliche Geschichten.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Unheimliche Geschichten" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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