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Silent Screams at the Whaley House

Horror and suspense classics of the Silent Era
screened in San Diego's first theater

Join us for the second annual Silent Screams at the Whaley House, a series of seriously scary silent movies just in time for Halloween. Screened in San Diego's first commercial theater, these historic horror films will add an extra level of fright to the darkened, haunted setting.

Early filmmakers and audiences certainly showed an interest in the macabre, and silent horror has a dreamy, can't-wake-up-from-a-nightmare quality that sound cinema can't approximate, shimmering with light, beauty, and the poetry of the unexpected. Prepare to be scared.

The Whaley House Theater was first established in 1868, when Thomas Tanner, the leader of The Tanner Troupe, rented the upstairs from Thomas Whaley, set up a stage and audience chamber, and presented weekly entertainments. With his daughter Soledad as his leading lady, Tanner and his company packed in 150 people for the first performance. Sadly, the curtain came down on the Tanner Troupe too soon when Tanner dropped dead backstage after a performance one night soon after opening.

The Whaley House has been called the "most haunted house in America." While we can't guarantee you'll see a ghost, you will see some of the most frightening films of early cinema.

$13 per person
Seating is limited; advance purchase is strongly recommended.

October 7
7pm & 9pm

Waxworks (1926)
Run time is 83 minutes
German filmmaker Paul Leni functioned as both director and production designer for the Caligari-esque Waxworks. Using a wax museum as the unifying factor, Leni weaves three separate stories of Evil Incarnate. A young author (Wilhelm Dieterle) is hired by the owner of a wax museum to write tales about his most popular figures, Haroun al Raschid, Ivan the Terrible and Jack the Ripper. Entranced by his new boss's pretty daughter (Olga Belajeff) the author sets to work writing about the wax figures. With each new story, the author and his new friend find themselves pulled inside the progressively nightmarish worlds that he has invented.

"While not as well known in America as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari or Nosferatu , Waxworks is one of the more brilliant entries in the canon of German silent film. Every bit as stylish as its more famous cousins, the film is a blend of artistry, fairy tale and good old-fashion thrills, plus set design to die for." - moviessilently.com
Purchase tickets online for Waxworks.

October 14
7pm & 9pm

The Bat (1926)
Run time is 88 minutes
Based on the play by Mary Roberts Rinehart, this silent thriller-chiller is set in motion by a maniacal serial killer who dresses in a bat costume. Most of the action takes place in the spooky old mansion of mystery writer Mrs. Cornelia Van Gorder. Batman creator Bill Finger cited "The Bat" as one of the primary inspirations for Batman. "The Bat" as a whole is a very clever and entertaining mélange of a horror movie, a crime thriller, a whodunit, and a dark comedy with elements that bring together a group of people in a mansion trying to uncover the secret of the Bat. Meanwhile, just like a certain Dark Knight, The Bat uses theatrics and shadows to frighten his victims into submission and keep them from delving too deep in to his identity. The Bat is an agile and swift criminal who can literally squirm out of any situation that presents itself, and he's never above murdering when someone foils him.

"It's absolutely entertaining and filled with sharp performances and a really memorable final scene. If you're a Batman fan, be sure to check this out not only because it's rooted in Batman mythos, but because it's just so damn good. It's a surprisingly great murder mystery with a very dazzling and charismatic villain who appreciates the art of the crime and loves the thrill of the get away." - Cinema Crazed
Purchase tickets online for The Bat.

October 21

Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror (1922)
Run time is 94 minutes
In this highly influential silent horror film, the mysterious Count Orlok (Max Schreck) summons Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) to his remote Transylvanian castle in the mountains. The eerie Orlok seeks to buy a house near Hutter and his wife, Ellen (Greta Schroeder). After Orlok reveals his vampire nature, Hutter struggles to escape the castle, knowing that Ellen is in grave danger. Meanwhile Orlok's servant, Knock (Alexander Granach), prepares for his master to arrive at his new home.

"So this is it: ground zero, the birth of horror cinema." - Time Out.
"Still one of the scariest, most unnerving films ever made." - Shadows on the Wall.

October 28
9pm Still available

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Run time is 98 minutes
Silent horror film adaptation of Gaston Leroux 's 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, directed by Rupert Julian and starring Lon Chaney, Sr. in the title role of the deformed Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House , causing murder and mayhem in an attempt to make the woman he loves a star. The movie remains most famous for Chaney's ghastly, self-devised make-up, which was kept a studio secret until the film's premiere.

"Lon Chaney's performance as the hideous organist prowling the sewers beneath the Paris Opera is still a cornerstone of gothic horror." - Chicago Reader.
Purchase tickets online for The Phantom of the Opera.


In Person Whaley House Museum Shop
2476 San Diego Avenue in Historic Old Town San Diego
Call (619) 297-7511


2476 San Diego Avenue, San Diego 92110
(619) 297-7511



2476 San Diego Avenue · San Diego CA 92110 · Phone (619) 297-7511
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