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The Phantom of the Opera

USA 1925
produced by
Carl Laemmle for Universal
directed by Rupert Julian, Edward Sedgwick (uncredited)
starring Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland, John St.Polis, Snitz Edwards
based on the novel by Gaston Leroux

Phantom of the Opera

review by
Dale Pierce

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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.


review © by Dale Pierce


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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