The Phantom Carriage (1921) – Episode 85 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Though horse and carriage are always the same, the driver is not. The last soul to die each year – the one who passes over at the stroke of midnight – is destined to be Death’s driver for the following year.” Sounds like a good gig except they left out the “one night is like 100 years” part. Join this episode’s Grue-Crew – Whitney Collazo, Chad Hunt, Jeff Mohr, and listener guest host Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff – as they travel to Sweden for a silent ride in The Phantom Carriage (1921).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 85 – The Phantom Carriage (1921)

On New Year’s Eve, the driver of a ghostly carriage forces a drunken man to reflect on his selfish, wasted life.


Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Carriage is a groundbreaking silent film for both its narrative structure and its multiple exposure visual effects. This episode’s Grue-Crew marveled at the depth of the character development. They’re also wowed by the effective use of up to four-layered multiple exposures. The film also incorporates social problems of the times – alcoholism and tuberculosis – that resonate with ills of the current times. Of course, the crew discusses the legendary scene that inspired the “Heeere’s Johnny” scene in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980).

The Grue-Crew universally regard The Phantom Carriage as a remarkable film. It is currently available to stream on the Criterion Channel and on physical media as a Criterion Blu-ray disk.

Chad, Whitney, and Jeff give a big Grue-Crew thank you to Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff for her insightful contributions to this episode … and for reading the book! 

Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era records a new episode every two weeks. The next episode in their very flexible schedule, chosen by their next super-secret guest host, will be Onibaba (1964), a Japanese film written and directed by Kaneto Shindô, loosely based on a Shin Buddhist parable.

Please let them know how they’re doing! They want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans: leave them a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast hosts at

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you so much for listening!

Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk.

Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.