Available on DVD !
To buy, click on link(s) below and help keep this site afloat
Always make sure of DVD-compatibility !!!
This old silent flick has lost none of its charm over the decades and new
releases, digitally remastered on DVD, have made viewing all the easier.
Though remade several times, with Herbert Lom, Robert Englund, and others
playing the monster, this version remains arguably the best. No one has ever
duplicated the great unmasking scene with such style and shock. The primative
and painful makeup process Chaney put himself through for his art must be
respected and admired beyond hesitation. Converting himself into a living
skeleton, more or less, boggles the mind.
This version likewise sticks closer to the book than other versions have done,
though an alternative ending, hinting Erik (The Phantom) dies from a broken
heart, at his organ (more on line with what the book's ending implies),
evidently got scrapped in favor of having him beaten to death by an angry mob.
From start to finish, the movie remains excellent. The Phantom falls in love
with a young singer, played by Mary Philben and tries as he might to win her
heart. When he fails, he just won't say "I give up" and tries to
force the issue, with suspenseful results. Yeah, yeah, need I go on ? If you
have never seen this version (and if you have missed it, you really need to go
to a video store to find it), I am sure no one in the world of horror has not
seen at least one of the remakes. So why go on and on about the storyline?
Of meritous note also is the masked ball sequence, in which the villain makes
an appearance as The Red Death from the Poe tale, appearing at the top of the
steps in outlandish getup and making his way downward as people stare in awe.
To truly appreciate this movie in all its splendor, it really needs to be
viewed as I first saw it, on a big screen, with an organist playing music
live, as part of a film festival. Being drunk at the time and witnessing the
unmasking scene stuck with me for a long time to come.
Unlike remakes, there is no solid explanation as to why the monster in the
mask is so ugly (remakes usually have him as a shafted composer, disfigured by
acid or fire), how he came to live beneath the Paris Opera House or why he
became such a basketcase. A mysterious Turk who is tracking him
down, really doesn't give much insight into the matter either, but no one
really cares, for Chaney's performance is so masterful you all but forget minor flaws.
Easily one of the greatest films of the silent era and possibly one of the
best horror movies of all time.