The Terror (1928 film)

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The Terror
"The Terror" (1928).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Written by Harvey Gates
Joseph Jackson
Based on The Terror
by Edgar Wallace
Starring May McAvoy
Louise Fazenda
Edward Everett Horton
Alec B. Francis
Cinematography Chick McGill[1]
Edited by Thomas Pratt
Jack Killifer[1]
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • September 6, 1928 (1928-09-06) (Sound version)[2]
  • October 28, 1928 (1928-10-28) (Silent version)[1]
Running time
80 minutes (Sound version)[2]
85 minutes (Silent version)[1] (7,674 feet)
Country United States
Language English (Sound version)

The Terror is a 1928 early American slasher film[1] written by Harvey Gates and directed by Roy Del Ruth, based on the play of the same name by Edgar Wallace.[1] This was the second "all-talking"[3] motion picture released by Warner Bros. (The first was Lights of New York) This film was also the first all-talking horror film made, using the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system.[4]


"The Terror", a killer whose identity is unknown, occupies an English country house that has been converted into an inn. Guests, including the spiritualist Mrs. Elvery and detective Ferdinand Fane, are frightened by strange noises and mysterious organ music. Connors and Marks, two men just released from jail, have sworn revenge upon "The Terror". Following a night of mayhem that includes murder, the identity of "The Terror" is revealed.[1]


Cast notes

  • The credits are spoken by a caped and masked Conrad Nagel.


In August 1928, Time said the film is "better than The Lion and the Mouse, [an] all-talk picture of which May McAvoy, Alec Francis, two of the terrorized, are veterans."[7] Three months later, John MacCormac, reporting from London for The New York Times upon the film's UK premiere, wrote:

The universal opinion of London critics is that The Terror is so bad that it is almost suicidal. They claim that it is monotonous, slow, dragging, fatiguing and boring, and I am not sure that I do not in large measure agree with them. What is more important, Edgar Wallace, who wrote the film, seems to agree with them also. "Well," was his comment, "I have never thought the talkies would be a serious rival to the stage."[8]

Preservation status[edit]

Two versions of the film were prepared, as most theaters had yet to convert to sound. The "all-talking" sound version, featuring a Vitaphone sound-on-disc soundtrack, was released on September 6, 1928, and a silent version, which used screen-filling printed "titles" (as they were then commonly called) to supply the essential dialog, was released on October 20, 1928. Both versions have been considered lost films since the 1970s, though a complete set of the soundtrack discs still exists and is preserved at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.[2][9][10][11]


The Terror was partially re-made by First National as Return of the Terror (1934).[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k American Film Institute (1997). Kenneth White Munden, ed. American Film Institute Catalog, Feature Films 1921–1930. University of California Press. p. 792. ISBN 0-520-20969-9. Retrieved January 22, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Soister, John T. (2012). American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929. McFarland. p. 760. ISBN 0-786-48790-9. 
  3. ^ GEORGE GROVES PHOTO-ALBUM #3: The War, Warners & My Fair Lady (1942-76)
  4. ^ Dirks, Tim "Horror Films" Retrieved October 28, 2010
  6. ^ The Terror with McAvoy and Everett Horton
  7. ^ "Cinema: The New Pictures". Time. August 27, 1928. Retrieved January 22, 2011. 
  8. ^ MacCormac, John (November 18, 1928). "The Terror (1928)". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2011. 
  9. ^ The Terror in UCLA Archive
  10. ^ The Library of Congress/FIAF American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog:The Terror
  11. ^ The Terror at database
  12. ^ Reid, John Howard (2007). Science-fiction & Fantasy Cinema: Classic Films of Horror, Sci-fi & the Supernatural. p. 241. ISBN 978-1-4303-0113-4. 
  13. ^ Return of The Terror (1934)

External links[edit]