The Terror (1928 film)

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The Terror
The Terror lobby card.jpg
Lobby card
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Written by Harvey Gates
Joseph Jackson
Based on The Terror
by Edgar Wallace
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Starring May McAvoy
Louise Fazenda
Edward Everett Horton
Alec B. Francis
Cinematography Chick McGill [1]
Edited by Thomas Pratt
Jack Killifer [1]
Music byLouis Silvers
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • 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)
CountryUnited States
Budget$163,000 [3]
Box office$1,464,000 (worldwide rentals) [3]

The Terror is a 1928 American pre-Code horror film [1] written by Harvey Gates and directed by Roy Del Ruth, based on the 1927 play of the same name by Edgar Wallace. [1] It was the second "all-talking" [4] motion picture released by Warner Bros., following Lights of New York . It was also the first all-talking horror film, made using the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system. [5]



"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 Terror received mixed reviews upon initial release. 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." [8] 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." [9]

Box office

According to Warner Bros records the film earned $1,221,000 domestically and $243,000 foreign.

Preservation status

Two versions of the film were prepared, as most theaters in 1928 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] [10] [11] [12]

According to WorldCat, UCLA has a print of the film. [13]


The Terror was partially remade by First National as Return of the Terror (1934). [14] [15]

Four years later, in 1938, a new remake was directed by Richard Bird with a screenplay by William Freshman . It starred Wilfrid Lawson, Bernard Lee, Arthur Wontner, Linden Travers, Henry Oscar, and Iris Hoey.

The film was again remade in Germany in 1965 as Der unheimliche Mönch (The Sinister Monk). [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

The following is an overview of 1928 in film, including significant events, a list of films released and notable births and deaths. Although some films released in 1928 had sound, most were still silent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vitaphone</span> Sound system for film

Vitaphone was a sound film system used for feature films and nearly 1,000 short subjects made by Warner Bros. and its sister studio First National from 1926 to 1931. Vitaphone was the last major analog sound-on-disc system and the only one that was widely used and commercially successful. The soundtrack was not printed on the film itself, but issued separately on phonograph records. The discs, recorded at 33+13 rpm and typically 16 inches (41 cm) in diameter, would be played on a turntable physically coupled to the projector motor while the film was being projected. It had a frequency response of 4300 Hz. Many early talkies, such as The Jazz Singer (1927), used the Vitaphone system. The name "Vitaphone" derived from the Latin and Greek words, respectively, for "living" and "sound".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">May McAvoy</span> American actress (1899–1984)

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<i>On Trial</i> (1928 film) 1928 film

On Trial is a 1928 American talking drama film produced and distributed by Warner Bros., and directed by Archie Mayo. The film starred Pauline Frederick, Lois Wilson, Bert Lytell, Holmes Herbert, and Jason Robards. The film is based on the 1914 Broadway play of the same name by Elmer Rice. A silent version of the film was also released on December 29, 1928.

<i>While London Sleeps</i> 1926 film by Howard Bretherton

While London Sleeps is a 1926 Warner Bros. film about a police-dog, Rinty, who helps Scotland Yard defeat a dangerous criminal organisation known as the Mediterranean Brotherhood that operates out of the Limehouse district of London. Walter Morosco wrote the screenplay. It was the first of many films directed by Howard Bretherton, and one of several created for Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd dog used in films during the 1920s and 1930s. The film was also released with a Vitaphone sound-on-disc soundtrack with a music score and sound effects, and only the sound discs survive today. The British release prints censored the more horrific aspects of the film.

<i>The Terror</i> (1938 film) 1938 British film

The Terror is a 1938 British crime film directed by Richard Bird and starring Wilfrid Lawson, Linden Travers and Bernard Lee. It was based on the 1927 play The Terror by Edgar Wallace. The play had previously been adapted as an American film The Terror in 1928.

<i>My Man</i> (1928 film) 1928 film

My Man is a 1928 black and white part-talkie American comedy-drama musical film directed by Archie Mayo starring Fanny Brice and featuring Guinn "Big Boy" Williams. It was Brice's feature film debut at the age of 37. She was a star in the Ziegfeld Follies before she started acting in motion pictures. At the time Warner Bros. made this film there were still some silent movies in production and being released. My Man used intertitles but included talking sequences, synchronized music, and sound effects using a Vitaphone sound-on-disc system. It was not until 1929 that talking movies would completely take over, but Warner Bros. had completely stopped making silent movies and switched to sound pictures by the end of that year, either part talking or full talking. Warner Bros. also started making movies in color as well as sound movies.

<i>Tenderloin</i> (film) 1928 film by Michael Curtiz

Tenderloin is a 1928 American part-talkie crime film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Dolores Costello. While the film was a part-talkie, it was mostly a silent film with a synchronized musical score and sound effects on Vitaphone discs. It was produced and released by Warner Bros. Tenderloin is considered a lost film, with no prints currently known to exist.

<i>Hardboiled Rose</i> 1929 film

Hardboiled Rose is a 1929 American part-talkie romantic drama film directed by F. Harmon Weight and released by Warner Bros. It starred Myrna Loy, William Collier, Jr., and John Miljan.

The Little Snob is a 1928 silent comedy film from Warner Bros. It was released with a synchronized musical score and sound effects using the Vitaphone sound-on-disc process, however there is no spoken dialogue.

<i>Old San Francisco</i> 1927 film by Alan Crosland

Old San Francisco is a 1927 American silent historical drama film starring Dolores Costello and featuring Warner Oland. The film, which was produced and distributed by Warner Bros., was directed by Alan Crosland.

<i>Fancy Baggage</i> 1929 film

Fancy Baggage is a 1929 American drama film directed by John G. Adolfi and released by Warner Bros. in both silent and part-talkie versions. The film stars Audrey Ferris and Myrna Loy.

<i>The Lion and the Mouse</i> (1928 film) 1928 film

The Lion and the Mouse (1928) is a part-silent/part-sound drama film produced by Warner Bros., directed by Lloyd Bacon, and based on the 1905 play by Charles Klein. The film marks the first time Lionel Barrymore, who was on loan out from MGM, spoke from the screen.

<i>State Street Sadie</i> 1928 film by Archie Mayo

State Street Sadie is a 1928 American crime drama film directed by Archie Mayo, and released as a silent film with talking sequences using Warner Bros.' Vitaphone sound-on-disc process. This is regarded as a lost film.

Vitaphone Varieties is a series title used for all of Warner Bros.', earliest short film "talkies" of the 1920s, initially made using the Vitaphone sound on disc process before a switch to the sound-on-film format early in the 1930s. These were the first major film studio-backed sound films, initially showcased with the 1926 synchronized scored features Don Juan and The Better 'Ole. Although independent producers like Lee de Forest's Phonofilm were successfully making sound film shorts as early as 1922, they were very limited in their distribution and their audio was generally not as loud and clear in theaters as Vitaphone's. The success of the early Vitaphone shorts, initially filmed only in New York, helped launch the sound revolution in Hollywood.

<i>The Man and the Moment</i> 1929 film

The Man and the Moment is a formerly lost 1929 part-talkie romantic comedy film directed by George Fitzmaurice and starring Billie Dove. The film is mainly a silent film, with talking sequences as well as a synchronized music score and sound effects by the Vitaphone sound-on-disc process. In the restored print, many scenes feature intertitles shown immediately after the spoken dialogue conveying the same words. Title cards at the beginning of the restored print explain that the visuals for the talking sequences came from a dupe internegative that was distributed in some territories in silent form; the intertitles were left in the sequences during the restoration to maintain synchronization with the Vitaphone soundtrack, but were not originally part of the film. The story is from a 1914 novel by Elinor Glyn, the famous novelist. The film was produced by Richard A. Rowland and released by First National Pictures. A British silent film had been film of the same story in 1918.

<i>Frozen River</i> (1929 film) 1929 film

Frozen River is a lost 1929 part-talkie film directed by F. Harmon Weight and starring silent film canine star Rin Tin Tin and boy actor Davey Lee. Warner Bros. produced and distributed the film releasing it with sound recorded in the Vitaphone process.

<i>The Better Ole</i> (1926 film) 1926 film

The Better 'Ole is a 1926 American silent World War I comedy drama film. Released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., this film is the second full-length film to utilize the Vitaphone sound-on-disc process, two months after the first Vitaphone feature Don Juan; with no audible dialogue, the film does have a synchronized musical score and sound effects. This film was also the second onscreen adaptation of the 1917 musical The Better 'Ole by Bruce Bairnsfather and Arthur Elliot. Charlie Chaplin's eldest brother Sydney Chaplin played the main lead as Old Bill in perhaps his best-known film today. This film is also believed by many to have the first spoken word of dialog, "coffee", although there are those who disagree. At one point during the film, Harold Goodwin's character whispers a word to Sydney Chaplin which is also faintly heard.

<i>Return of the Terror</i> 1934 film by Howard Bretherton

Return of the Terror is a 1934 American mystery film directed by Howard Bretherton and written by Peter Milne and Eugene Solow. The film stars Mary Astor, Lyle Talbot, John Halliday, and Frank McHugh, and features Robert Barrat and Irving Pichel. The film was released by Warner Bros. on July 7, 1934. It was a loose remake of the 1928 film The Terror, based on Edgar Wallace's play of the same name.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 American Film Institute (1997). Kenneth White Munden (ed.). American Film Institute Catalog, Feature Films 19211930. University of California Press. p. 792. ISBN   0-520-20969-9 . Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 Soister, John T. (2012). American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929. McFarland. p. 760. ISBN   978-0-786-48790-5.
  3. 1 2 Glancy, H Mark (1995). "Warner Bros Film Grosses, 1921–51: the William Schaefer ledger". Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television. 15: 55–73. doi:10.1080/01439689500260031.
  4. "George Groves Photo-Album #3: The War, Warners & My Fair Lady (1942-76)".
  5. Dirks, Tim "Horror Films" Retrieved October 28, 2010
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  7. "The Terror :: J. Willis Sayre Collection of Theatrical Photographs".
  8. "Cinema: The New Pictures". Time. August 27, 1928. Archived from the original on November 21, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  9. MacCormac, John (November 18, 1928). "The Terror (1928)". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  10. The Terror in UCLA Archive
  11. The Library of Congress/FIAF American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog: The Terror
  12. Progressive Silent Film List: The Terror at
  13. The terror (Film, 1928) -
  14. Reid, John Howard (2007). Science-fiction & Fantasy Cinema: Classic Films of Horror, Sci-fi & the Supernatural. p. 241. ISBN   978-1-4303-0113-4.
  15. "RETURN OF THE TERROR | Feature Film Database | Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research | Wisconsin Historical Society". Archived from the original on October 7, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  16. Workman, Christopher; Howarth, Troy (2016). "Tome of Terror: Horror Films of the Silent Era". Midnight Marquee Press. p. 333. ISBN   978-1936168-68-2.