The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera ★★★★

A History of Horror Weekly Challenge 2018

Week 2: Universal Monsters

I promise I’m really not into silent films even though this is the second one I’ve watched in 3 days. Still, I’m glad these challenges force me to watch things I might otherwise not. Still, nothing will probably ever top Häxan.

Most people know the story to this. Most people, including me, also are more familiar with this as a famous musical. A few people, including me, are most familiar with this in the form of the 1988 film by Dario Argento. What can I say? Highkey hardcore Argento Fanboy 4 Life right here. Still, this was really well done. Lon Chaney outshines everyone in the title role. Even though this is my first time watching this, I’ve seen unmasked Phantom countless times so I knew exactly what to expect. I can’t EVEN imagine what audiences in 1925 thought of that reveal, but I would have loved to have experienced it and even more the reactions of everyone else! Aside from him, everyone else is pretty melodramatic but ultimately forgettable. Even more than Chaney, I was probably most impressed with the production values on display. The costumes and sets are gorgeous and some of the effects are really impressive for such an early film. That chandelier scene and the ball scene were great and that ending was also pretty awesome and unexpectedly bleak.

At first I thought the story was going to be a little problematic for me with its “let’s force a disfigured person to live alone five basements below surface level and across an underground lake because they shouldn’t ever be allowed anywhere near the public” story, but then the Phantom ending up being a pretty awful dick of a person so I guess it balanced out. Like, I get that his whole life was cursed because of his appearance and that’s completely unacceptable, but that doesn’t mean you need to kidnap someone and demand their love or try and kill half the audience because your favorite singer isn’t performing, right? Actually, it’s kind of hard to say, perhaps? Maybe being forced to live in that exile would really REALLY screw you up? I guess I have no idea but what I DO know is that it makes for one hell of an iconic story...even if it mostly just makes me want to watch the Argento version again, which on the one hand isn’t as good, but on the other hand is because ARGENTO.

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