Thursday, October 20, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 17: Phil watches THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)-October 17, 2011

Here it is: Day Seventeen of my horror movie marathon! I hope all of you have enjoyed reading my blog thus far, and I hope it's inspired you to see some of these movies. Tonight's film came out of the silent era, and is without question a true horror film classic. Starring "The Man of a Thousand Faces" Lon Chaney, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA brought us one of cinema's most iconic horror characters, and cinema's first true scare!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1925)
Based on Gaston Leroux's 1909 novel of the same name, the film stars Chaney as Erik, the mysterious phantom that haunts the Paris Opera House. Through a series of catacombs and secret passages underneath the opera house, he lives in the shadows, and vows vengeance on the human race. However Erik falls in love with the opera's soon to be star Christine Daae (Mary Philbin) and soon threatens the life of the lead actress if Christine doesn't take her place. Eventually Erik leads her to his underground lair where he revels his true identity, which cemented Chaney's Erik as horror's first true monster.

Chaney's performance in the film is without question absolutely incredible. Born to deaf parents, Chaney learned to communicate to them through sign language and body language, which helped him to became one of the greatest actors of the silent film era. Another attribute that Chaney had was his make-up capabilities. Having to put himself through long and often painful make-up, Chaney played everything form scared-faced gangsters to deformed cripples. With his role as Erik, Chaney outdid himself by creating horror's most iconic characters, and scaring audiences for generations to come.

The film was released by Universal Pictures in 1925, but was re-released in 1929. In the '29 version, several scenes that were shot from a second camera were integrated with the film. In 1953 Universal failed to renew the copyright, and thus the film became in the public domain. But regardless, the film was chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation in its National Film Registry.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has been hailed as masterpiece by both silent and horror fans, as well as by film scholars and critics. Its impact has never diminished, and because of its success, there has been no less than six remakes of the film, has become a Broadway musical, parodied, and Chaney's Erik, along with several other Universal monsters, became immortalized by appearing on a postage stamp. Eighty-six years after the film's original release, there seems to be no stopping this phantom!

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA will be released on Blu-Ray by Image Entertainment on November 1, 2011. To pre-order your copy, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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