THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI
The Cabinet of Dr Caligaris style has been borrowed and homaged countless times. There have been a couple of stabs at loosely remaking it with the Robert Bloch scripted The Cabinet of Caligari (1962), an imprisonment psycho-thriller that has little to do with the original; Dr. Caligari (1989) from Stephen Sayadian, which has nominal similarities and a surrealist style; the surrealist The Cabinet of Dr Ramirez (1991), which used a similar style in a different plot; and the short film Dead By Dawn (2004). This low-budget, independently made feature from David Lee Fisher was the most direct of the remakes in that it closely follows the original almost scene for scene. Fisher shot the entire film on green screen and optically inserted the backgrounds afterwards, sometimes even copying scenery directly from the original film.
Perhaps the closest the result comes in its approach is to Psycho (1998) in which Gus Van Sant bizarrely remade Alfred Hitchcocks film shot for shot. David Lee Fisher never quite remakes the original shot for shot but does suborn the mood of the original and follows the plot very closely the only major difference between the two is the substitution of intertitle cards with spoken dialogue, as well as a musical soundtrack. Of course, something different has happened between 1919 and 2005. One of these is that the surrealist film has become its own arthouse niche. Now The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is less its own groundbreaking work than something feels like it has borrowed the surrealist look and disquiet of early David Lynch works such as Eraserhead (1977) or the Brothers Quay.
The ultimate failing of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 2005 is that David Lee Fisher is too schematic in what he does. He seeks to dutifully replicate the original film rather than go out on a limb and create something that has an original and unique look. As such, his The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is at best an imitator rather than a leading edge avant garde work. For all its replication of the German Expressionist sets of the original, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is otherwise ordinary in its happenings David Lee Fisher even goes so far as to offer up flashback scenes briefly showing when Caligari first met Cesare and started his experiments, which is surely another example of the modern obsession with over-explanation and adding motivational backstory. In fact, what we have now feels more like a work of film noir with artistic pretensions than it does a surrealist horror film. Nevertheless, some scenes such as Cesares answer to Alan Until tomorrows dawn, still hold a chill. David Lee Fisher does also get one fine piece of silent movie direction the scene where the criminal sneaks up and attacks a girl, which is conducted as a wordless mime.
David Lee Fisher has yet to make another film. Most of the members of the cast are unknowns, although there are a couple of interesting names among them. One of these is Doug Jones, who plays the role of Cesare. Jones has just appeared as Abe Sapien in Hellboy (2004) and would gain a name for his mime work the following year with his role as the creature in Guillermo Del Toros Pans Labyrinth (2006) and as the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007). The other name of interest is that of Tim Russ, best known as the Vulcan Tuvok in tvs Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001) who plays the role of aging town clerk who is the first to be murdered.
Full film available online here:-