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The Phantom of the Opera

UK 1962
produced by
Anthony Hinds for Hammer
directed by Terence Fisher
starring Herbert Lom, Edward De Souza, Heather Sears, Michael Gough, Thorley Walters, Ian Wilson, Miles Malleson, Marne Maitland, Martin Miller, Miriam Keller, Harold Goodwin, John Harvey, Patrick Troughton, Michael Ripper, Liane Aukin, Sonya Cordeau, Leila Forde, Renee Houston, John Maddison
writen by John Elder (= Anthony Hinds), based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, music by Edwin Astley, cinematography by Arthur Grant

Phantom of the Opera

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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It should have been the triumphant premiere of arrogant composer D'Arcy's (Michael Gough) opera Saint Joan, however, the performance comes to a sudden halt when a hanged stagehand swings into the scenery, in plain sight to everyone. After that, the leading lady leaves the production - rather understandably.

However, D'Arcy and the opera's producer Hunter (Edward De Souza), who rarely agree on anything, soon agree that they have found a more than appropriate replacement in modest chorus girl Christine (Heather Sears). Christine and Hunter soon become a couple, much to the dismay of D'Arcy, who wants Christine to be more than just his leading lady, and eventually D'Arcy fires both, Christine as well as Hunter.

But then there's someone else interested in Christine, the opera house's masked phantom (Herbert Lom), who wants to give her singing lessons, and to this end kidnaps her.

Acting on a mere hunch, Hunter soon finds the phantom's lair in the catacombs underneath the opera house, and he has also figured out pretty quickly who the Phantom is, or rather was: A poor composer who wanted D'Arcy to help him publish his work, but D'Arcy instead blatantly stole his music, and in an attempt to burn his music rather than having D'Arcy publish it under his name, the phantom has badly burned himself and was since reduced to living beneath the opera, his only companion being a crazy dwarf (Ian Wilson) - who for no reason at all does some killings in the course of the movie.

Eventually, Hunter confronts the Phantom, but when he and Christine hear his story, they grow all soft and agree to let him continue teaching Christine ...

Eventually, Hunter is re-instated as the opera house's producer, and the first thing he does is to re-hire Christine as the leading lady.

The night of the premiere: The Phantom confronts D'Arcy and scares the heebiegeebies out of him (nothing more), then he goes to watch the opera, Saint Joan (his opera, incidently), while the crazy dwarf is doing some climbing in the scaffoldings above the stage, eventually causing a chandelier to crash onto the stage. The Phantom, seeing the chandelier is about to hit Christine, jumps from his box onto the stage and pushes her aside - but is himself hit and killed by the chandelier.


In the late 1950's/early 60's, director Terence Fisher directed a string of gothic horror films for Hammer, many of which became undisputable classics, and he handled all the traditional horror monsters (in films like Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, Curse of the Werewolf or The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll, to name a few). However, his version of The Phantom of the Opera (which has only very little to do with Gaston Leroux' novel) is in no way on par with his earlier films, the film suffers greatly from a muddled screenplay, a considerable lack of suspense, let alone shock, a considerable lack of a convincing villain (the Phantom turns out to be the good guy, D'Arcy may be arrogant and selfish but by no mean a horror baddie, and the dwarf just seems ridiculous), and the basic storyline of the film is uninvolving as hell. And Herbert Lom, one of the great cinematic villains, has an ungrateful role in this one that gives him no reason to shine. Rather a waste of time.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD