German filmmaker Paul Leni functioned as both director and production designer for the Caligariesque Waxworks (Das Wachsfigurenkabinett). Using a wax museum as the unifying factor, Leni weaves three separate stories of Evil Incarnate. Emil Jannings stars as middle-Eastern despot Harroun al Raschid; Conrad Veidt is cast as Ivan the Terrible; and Werner Krauss impersonates Jack the Ripper. Of the three, Ivan is perhaps the most odious, especially in his sadistic cat-and-mouse treatment of his victims (it is said that Russian director Sergei Eisenstein patterned his Ivan the Terrible after Veidt's). On the strength of this film, Leni was invited to Hollywood by Universal's Carl Laemmle, and the result was the classic "old dark house" meller The Cat and the Canary. Sadly, most surviving prints of Waxworks are taken from the watered-down, expurgated American released version.
by Hal Erickson synopsis