IMDb > The Terror (1928)

The Terror (1928) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 15 | slideshow)


User Rating:
8.0/10   20 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
Popularity: ?
Down 4% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Harvey Gates (writer)
Joseph Jackson (titles)
View company contact information for The Terror on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
25 October 1928 (UK) See more »
Come, Hear the Creepiest of All Mystery Pictures See more »
Guests at an old English manor house are stalked by a mysterious killer known only as 'The Terror.' | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Creaky talkie: squeaky, squawky See more (1 total) »


  (in credits order)

May McAvoy ... Olga Redmayne

Louise Fazenda ... Mrs. Elvery

Edward Everett Horton ... Ferdinand Fane

Alec B. Francis ... Dr. Redmayne

Matthew Betz ... Joe Connors

Holmes Herbert ... Goodman (as Holmes E. Herbert)

Otto Hoffman ... Soapy Marks

Joseph W. Girard ... Supt. Hallick (as Joseph Gerard)

John Miljan ... Alfred Katman
Frank Austin ... Cotton
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Jules Cowles ... Undetermined Role (uncredited)

Conrad Nagel ... Narrator of Spoken Credit Titles (uncredited)

Directed by
Roy Del Ruth 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Harvey Gates  writer
Joseph Jackson  titles
Edgar Wallace  play

Produced by
Jack L. Warner .... executive producer
Darryl F. Zanuck .... producer
Original Music by
Louis Silvers (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Barney McGill 
Film Editing by
Jack Killifer 
Thomas Pratt 
Costume Design by
Earl Luick (uncredited)
Music Department
Louis Silvers .... musical director
William Axt .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Giuseppe Becce .... composer: stock music (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
USA:80 min (silent version) | USA:85 min (sound version)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Vitaphone) | Silent

Did You Know?

This film is presumed lost, only the soundtrack (Vitaphone disks) remains, suddenly "The Terror" can be located over the foreign archive. In February 1956, Jack Warner sold the rights to all of his pre-December 1949 films, including this film, to Associated Artists Productions. It is unknown, the film was copied onto 16mm, but it did not show on television, the film is still kept in the television syndication package. In 1969, UA donated 16mm prints of some Warner Bros. films from outside the United States. Please check your attic.See more »
Movie Connections:
Version of The Terror (1938)See more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
31 out of 43 people found the following review useful.
Creaky talkie: squeaky, squawky, 1 October 2002
Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales

"The Terror", one of the very first all-talking pictures, was released without a film soundtrack. The dialogue and sound effects were recorded on a separate Vitaphone disc (a large 33.3rpm phonograph record). The cinema projectionist was supposed to start playing the record and the first reel of the (silent) film at the same time, hoping that the sound and the image stayed in synch through the successive reels.

I saw this movie in difficult circumstances. In the 1980s, I tracked down a copy of the Vitaphone disc (the sound without the images) in a film archive, and I was able to play back the disc with no expectation of ever seeing the> movie itself. About twenty years later, I located an incomplete nitrate print of the film (the images without the sound) in the possession of a private collector, who permitted me to screen it on a hand-cranked Movieola. So, I heard this film about 20 years before I saw it. Fortunately, I took notes when I audited the sound disc (and I'm familiar with the source material), so I've got a halfway-decent idea of how the sounds and the images would go together. Also, I've seen the 1938 remake, filmed in England... which is, frankly, a much better movie than this version.

"The Terror" was originally a stage play by the prolific English author Edgar Wallace. It's a spooky-old-house thriller, of the sort that was so popular in the 1920s. ("The Bat", "The Cat and the Canary", "The Gorilla", "The Last Warning", etc.) This Hollywood version retains the British references of the original play, but (confusingly) features a primarily American cast, most of whom make no attempt to impersonate English characters.

The Terror is a mysterious criminal who has committed many murders and thefts, always escaping: his true identity is unknown. Rumour has it that the Terror has been skulking in the vicinity of an old house, currently tenanted by Doctor Redmayne. As so often happens in this sort of play, Redmayne has summoned a motley collection of guests. Among them are Mrs Elvery (a self-described psychic) and Ferdy Fayne, an accident-prone simpleton. Also present are Joe and Soapy, a couple of convicts temporarily released from prison to help trap the Terror ... and Superintendent Hallick of Scotland Yard, who's here to keep an eye on Joe and Soapy. Obviously, SOMEONE present is the Terror in disguise ... ah, but who?

The actors who play the two criminals (Matthew Betz and Otto Hoffman) are excellent, although Hoffman has a suspiciously stage-trained voice for a guy who's playing a career criminal. Handsome John Miljan is good in a small role. SPOILERS COMING. Edward Everett Horton, as Ferdy Fayne, is excellent in a role that departs significantly from Horton's usual nervous-nelly routine. Fayne is rather dim-witted, until late in the film when Horton reveals that he's actually a detective working undercover to catch the Terror. At this point, a total change comes over Edward Everett Horton, and he suddenly becomes resolute and intelligent. I wish that Horton's long film career had given him more opportunities to play forthright roles like this.

The worst performance is given by the film's leading lady, May McAvoy, a silent-film ingenue whose voice was too weak for talkies. McAvoy swallows her words, mumbles, stammers, and lisps. She's very pretty, but her voice is terrible. As the damsel in distress, McAvoy has to scream several times in this film: the camera always cuts away from her at these moments, and the full-throated screams which result are clearly supplied by some other actress serving as a voice-double: the screams are much louder and clearer than any of the dialogue that McAvoy speaks in this film. There are some very unconvincing sound effects at inopportune moments.

To make this film "officially" a talkie, the credits are spoken by Conrad Nagel, appearing on screen in an opera cape and domino mask. Roy Del Ruth is an underrated director, but his work here is below his usual standard, probably due to the technical requirements: the camera barely moves, and there are long sequences without a cut.

"The Terror" is a stagebound story that should have remained on the stage. This film is interesting as a creaky curiosity, but its entertainment value is negligible. I'll rate it 2 points out of 10.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (1 total) »


If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
Miss Marple: Sleeping Murder Shadows on the Stairs Gaslight The Bad Seed Gosford Park
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
IMDb Horror section IMDb USA section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.