In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the German silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920 F.W. Murnau), Austin’s most adventurous band, The Invincible Czars, have created their own tastefully modern score for the picture. As part of their 2019-2020 season, they will perform the music live with the movie - here at the Apollo Cinema!

Dr. Calilgari is one of the silent era’s most beloved and enigmatic works. It considered by many to be the first German Expressionist film and the first great motion picture in the horror genre. It is the first movie to incorporate surrealistic production in such and all-encompassing way with quirky sets, angular shadows and creepy make-up.

Fans, theatres and media have praised The Invincible Czars for making near century-old movies “actually scary” for modern day audiences. The scores and their performance of it complements the tone and emotion on-screen at any given moment. The band employs a mix of acoustic, electric and synthesized instruments including violin, glockenspiel, organ, vocals, loops, electric guitar, bass. It’s quite a sight to behold when performed live by only four players!

This score is a departure for the group; it’s their first all-original score. The band has borrowed music from Satie, Ravel, Bartok and others in the classical canon for previous efforts. It’s also their most collaborative work in nearly decade with contributions from each of the group’s touring line-up and their co-composer Henry Q Vines.

The biggest difference audiences will notice is the distinct lack of woodwinds! Since the departure of the band’s permanent winds player in 2017, they’ve toured with various stand-ins. This year they’ve opted to fill the four chair with keyboardist/guitarist Skunk Manhattan. Skunk leads his own band (A Good Rogering) and plays second guitar for Austin metal workers Runescarred – a band for which Czars’ Czar Josh Robins plays bass. With his synthesizer, Skunk adds sounds like bassoon, vibraphone and (you guessed it) flute to ensemble’s live sound palette and the additional keyboard has freed the guitar up to play more melodic lines.

The rest of the ensemble is as usual – Phil Davidson on violin, glockenspiel and some keyboards; Aaryn Russell on bass guitar; Josh Robins on guitar, percussion and samples.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari tells the story of a mysterious traveler who arrives in a small village to showcase his Somnabulist (sleepwalker) in the local fair. Shortly thereafter, a series of murders lead the narrator, Franzis, and his friends to believe Dr. Caligari and his sleepwalking assistant may be responsible but something’s not quite right and the conclusion is quite surprising for 100 year old movie.


The Invincible Czars have been performing their own scores for early 20th century silent films for nearly a decade in historic/hip theaters, colleges, outdoor spaces, DIY arts centers, etc. The shows appeal to people of a wide range of ages and interests and you’ll find film buffs, music lovers, horror fans, sci-fi geeks, metalheads, goths, classical music fans among their audiences.