Cinematic Music Videos: Living Dead Girl/The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Due to situations beyond my control I have an essay for you this week instead of a video. My apologies, as I have been laid up all weekend with either a nasty little cold or the early stages of the "T-Viris". Because of this (and my 10 hour a day job) my ability to produce a video of creative or humorous merit this week has been severely hampered. As a matter of fact, this article is being dictated to my fiance who has repeatedly denied my requests to be frozen in carbonite until scientists can find a cure for the foul disease that is ravaging my body.

The month of August may be the most time crunched month so far this year. But I stand by my desire to post every Monday. Some of the features on the site may get out of order this month, and changes are definitely afoot, but by the first Monday of September we should be back to business as usual. Usually The Cinematic Music Video Articles get posted at the end of the month, but I think in this case we can make an exception.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) and Rob Zombie's Living Dead Girl (1998) were mentioned to me by friend and colleague Steve Giuliano. I had heard of Caligari, but hadn't actually seen the film until my first semester at University (German 101 to be specific). And not having been familiar up to that point with Zombie's musical efforts, I hadn't seen his homage to the classic horror film. After Steve mentioned the connection, I decided to check them out. I wasn't disappointed.

Zombie, long known for his love of horror cinema both old and new, does an excellent job of translating Robert Wiene's film to the music video short format. The music video with it's jump cuts and iris in/outs, gives a faithful translation of the visual style of the original Caligari. This time however, the somnambulist Cesare, is replaced by a woman-the titular "Living Dead Girl". Zombie himself plays the part of Caligari to accurate effect and the German Expressionist sets in the video are wonderful recreations of those in the original film.

It's no wonder that Zombie has been influenced by Caligari as this movie has been influencing artists for years. The film has been adapted and remade several times, most recently in 2005 with a talky remake attempting to recreate the look of the original film. It also is worth mentioning that Shutter Island, the film by Martin Scorsese, shares with Caligari thematic similarities, with regard to twist ending, unreliable narrators and the theme of insanity.

As with most of the Cinematic Music Video Articles, I think the best thing that can come out of an homage to a great film, is that it sparks interest in the original. If you haven't seen this film, I highly recommend it. The film is in the public dmain and can be found on most horror compilation DVDs and if I'm not mistaken can be seen in it's entirety on Youtube. But as we've all learned from Reading Rainbow, you don't have to take my word for it.

-Rob (Down but not) Out.