The Phantom of the Opera (1925) It’s the gay ’90s and once again we have a pretty girl as the catalyst for mad obsession that leaves a body count in it’s wake. I never can GET why she lets a mysterious stalker give her vocal lessons through the wall, perhaps vocal coaches were expensive back then. Laemmle doubling down on the spectacle this time, it is a much more lavish production than anything that went before…I think you really have to go to 1939 to see more money on the screen. I can see 1925 audiences sitting through it repeatedly just to see the added wow factors, the production value, the 2 stip techicolor section sequence and the musical score. Chaney’s makeup effects pushing it over the top once again. Without him it’s still a good movie, with him, it’s iconic.
If you have never seen it or have only seen bad transfers, it is worth sitting through a clean copy. (The 2 strip technicolor: see Mystery at the Wax Museum, Doctor X, Black Pirate – can be a lot of fun to look at when it is color stablized, if it’s a bad copy that fades in and out, it’s better to watch in black and white)
This time through I noticed the similarities between the Phantom of the Opera and JAWS…both have half the film to cause mayhem and terror before you get a good look at them…and when you do, they are still pretty frightening. I had always assumed that the Phantom’s MASKed visage was somehow to tie into post WWII facial scarring and facial prosthetics (see Man Who Laughs 1928) , once again judging a monster based on their looks not their actions, but this fella was apparently born twisted face and soul and stayed that way, and is now focuses his stalking on a willing target – sorry, i have no respect for her, she should have called the cops..spoiler alert: yeah the sneaky guy in the fez hanging out in the cellar….. why didn’t he just tell everyone about the crazy guy in the cellar? I suppoed it was a REALLY big cellar. FWIW how did the horse get down in the cellar you asked? they used horse drawn pulley systems to change the backdrops, like pit ponys. And I don’t want to IMAGINE what the BLACK LAKE smelled like.
Personally I think you see too much of the “Phantom” to call it a horror movie, it’s a thriller, with a nasty overly dramatic kidnapper and some very slow rescuers who need to be rescued themselves. And instead of a slow death from broken heart at the keyboard as in the book, one of the screen writers came up with the angry mob with torches throw him into the Seine, which I didn’t think would only get him wet. In my opinion they should have dumped him down into his own torture chamber with all the mirrored walls, but that’s not as dramatic as mobs with torches. BTW should I wonder who built that torture chamber? didn’t they tell someone..hey some guy had us build a torture chamber under the opera house…just saying….
This is a silent film which must be seen, it has influenced so much that came afterwards.