The Coughing Horror (1924)

January 4th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Fred Paul | Cast: H Agar Lyons, Fred Paul, Humberston Wright, Fred Morgan | Silent Horror 31′

I first became aware of this intriguing title as a teenager when I came across it in the chapter on British silent horror films in Denis Gifford’s ‘A Pictorial History of Horror Movies’.

Now nearly a hundred years old, it seems a good time to review The Coughing Horror, which made its first appearance in August 1924 as an episode in the series ‘Further Mysteries of Dr. Fu Manchu’.

It sees Nayland Smith coming up against the “Coughing Horror”, Dr Fu-Manchu’s servant, when commissioned by the British Government to investigate a series of murders,

The ordinary settings and lack of style – with nighttime exteriors obviously shot in daylight – give the film an almost documentary feel in our contemporary gaze. Nayland Smith takes it all rather in his stride and, in the long tradition of white actors playing Chinamen, little attempt has been made to make the doctor appear authentically oriental apart from his satanic eyebrows and affecting a kimono, while presiding over a rum collection of roughnecks including a hunchbacked dwarf.

Horror-wise, I can safely say that in half a century of watching weird films, I have never seen such a bizarre sight as what Gifford described as a “hirsute henchman” and the film itself terms “A monstrous Cynocephalyte, Half Man……Half Ape”.

At the film’s conclusion (SLIGHT SPOILER COMING:) the good doctor simply makes off in a cab. Doubtless the world shall hear from him again. @RichardChatten



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