Monday, October 5, 2009

HORROR EPICS: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

We kick it old school often when watching Horror Epics, but you don’t get much more old school than the original Phantom of the Opera. Lon Chaney plays the disfigured and disgruntled composer who resides in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera House. He’s obsessed with a young soprano to the point where he’d kill for a chance to further her career. Eventually he kidnaps the poor girl as his protégé, and the opera crew is determined to rid their house of this menace once and for all. Although the Phantom’s grotesque face made viewers faint upon his initial unmasking in 1925, that’s about the only thing that really makes this movie worth seeing nearly 75 years later. The Phantom of the Opera comes in just shy of two hours and sorry to say, but it’s a long and rather dull wait. Especially with it being a silent film featuring a score that usually contradicts what’s happening onscreen. Although I hear the singing reaches excessive levels in the 1943 remake, I’m going to guess that this version starring Claude Rains fares at least somewhat better than the original. At least they talk in that one. But to be fair to the original, it isn’t like I watched a nice-looking restored DVD, which could make a world of difference for all I know.

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