I had never heard of this film, but if it has Vincent Price you know I’m all over it.
Then I watched it and saw it is one of the best horror films ever made, with everything you could want:
So do you dare continue on?
So the film starts off with the scariest opening I have ever seen. All we have is a black screen and screaming from men and women.
Can you imagine hearing that full volume in a darken theater?
I can imagine people were freaking out.
We then are met by Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook Jr.) who warns us about the house and how we should stay away:
Watson Pritchard:The ghosts are moving tonight, restless… hungry. May I introduce myself? I’m Watson Pritchard. In just a moment I’ll show you the only really haunted house in the world. Since it was built a century ago, seven people, including my brother, have been murdered in it. Since then, I’ve owned the house. I only spent one night then and when they found me in the morning, I… I was almost dead.
We then cut to wealthy businessman Fredrick Loren (Vincent Price). He has rented the House on Haunted Hill for a party,
inviting five people to attend and promising them each $10,000 if they stay the whole night.
As soon as they pull up to the house, strange things begin happening. A chandelier almost kills a guest when it falls,
And another guest gets knocked unconscious,
And it doesn’t stop there. It turns out that all is not happy with the Loren life. Fredrick is angry with his wife as he believes her to be a gold digger and trying to murder him.
Frederick Loren: Do you remember the fun we had when you poisoned me?
Annabelle Loren: [laughs] Something you ate, the doctor said.
Frederick Loren: Yes, arsenic on the rocks…[grabs Annabelle] Annabelle, you’d do it again if you thought you’d get away with it, wouldn’t you?
But Annabelle (Carole Ohmart) says that he is a jealous, crazy psychopath who has already killed three wives and is going to add her to his dead list.
Annabelle Loren: My husband is sometimes insane with jealousy. Nothing matters to him!
Lance Schroeder: Would he hurt you?
Annabelle Loren: He would kill me if he could…You know, of course, that I’m his fourth wife. The first simply disappeared; the other two died…All his doctors said heart attacks. Two girls in their 20s. Lance… I don’t want to join them.
Who is telling the truth? Who is lying? And which is a killer?
We are given the history of the house with its gruesome murders, from beheadings to being thrown in acid.
They are locked in with no way out, one guest is nearly strangled to death, one having a nervous breakdown, and one murdered!
Which one is the killer? Or is it a ghost?
Watch it yourself to find out. I will not ruin the ending of this masterpiece.
So this year I am doing something a bit different. I decided that every Friday this year I will review a TV episode instead of a film. I know it kind of goes against the grain, but I just feel bad for those awesome shows that try to make really creepy Halloween episodes or just have great episodes that fit for this. Their still horror, so they count.
So this episode is from the TV series, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries. This show came out in the 1970s, the first season alternating every week between the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. The second season saw four crossover episodes, and only three Nancy Drew as the actresses playing her, left the series. Season three was reworked to be just the Hardy Boys. It was a good series while it lasted, I just wish there had been more. If you are interested in watching, all these episodes are currently on youtube, here’s the link if you want to watch this one.
So on to the review:
At the beginning of every episode we see the Universal logo. I’ve always wondered why they haven’t remade it, I would watch it. But then again they would probably mess it up like they did with Nancy Drew (2007) film.
So then we have the awesome intro and amazing intro music.
I love the setup, the book covers in the background, and that music. Ooh! It sends shivers up an down my spine and gets me in the mood for a mystery.
So the first thing we see is a woman, yelling at Nancy Drew (Pamela Sue Martin) about knowing who she is and pulling a knife on her!
But it turns out that it is just a rehearsal for a play they are doing. Yep, they are tearing down the old theater in River Heights, and using the property to build a youth center. It was Nancy’s idea to put on a play Murder in the 4th Act.
Unlike the book series, Ned and Nancy’s relationship isn’t clearly defined. Are they going out? Or just good friends? He seems more into her than she into him. As much as I like book Ned, I have to be honest and admit I love the idea of Nancy Drew and Frank Hardy, especially in this series. OTP of the TV series.
Anyways, so Ned is a bit of an egotistical jerk in the TV series than the book, and this episode is no different. He sent some telegrams to some famous actors: Thelma March, Hollywood actress; Alex Richmond, game show host; Danny Day, TV actor, and Seth Taylor, news anchor- and they all agreed to come. Ned thinks it is because of his brilliance, Nancy thinks it is a bit odd. Why would these famous people be willing to give up their time for free to help a youth center?
The woman Nancy was rehearsing with, Janet Mustane (Pippa Scott), used to perform with these people, choosing to remain in River Heights instead of going off to “bigger things”. She does not seem happy about all those people coming back. Wonder why?
Nancy decides to clean up the stage area and make sure that everything is nice for the “famous” people. As she looks around stage, their is a shadowy figure above her on the catwalk.
No it’s not him, :(. However there is a story that the theater is haunted by “The Phantom”.
Well, whoever or whatever this is, they decide to take down the chandelier and almost get Nancy with it.
Nancy was able to get out of the way in time, but starts thinking that something inky is going on. She checks the cord and sees that it isn’t frayed or old, but was cut.
No one believes her though. So its up to Nancy to figure it out.
The team split up to check over the theater more thoroughly.
Nancy heads down into the prop room to see if she can figure out what is bringing everyone back. As she is looking, she finds an old playbill from the orginal opening of the play. And it turns out, all of those who are coming back, including Janet, were in the original performance.
So they all show up, but no one can pay the cab, leaving Ned to foot the bill. How odd. How can such huge entertainment giants have no money? Hmmm….
Something else strange is that they all seem to hate each other.
If they dislike each other, why would they come back to perform with each others? And stay in the hotel across the alley (Janet’s place) rooming with each other?
So they start practicing, when Seth decides that he can’t do the scene without a pipe. He heads down to the prop room, but the lights won’t work.
You know what that means. Someone’s coming after you.
But instead of looking for a prop he tries to open the window. While he is doing that, our mystery person or ghost knocks a statue over, trying to hurt him.
He’s fine, but Nancy wonders if there is more going on. Janet is convinced that the Phantom did it, and everyone else thinks it was just an accident; but Nancy knows that something is not adding up.
She notices the light was unscrewed so it wouldn’t work, and that the window is opened. The window shouldn’t be unlocked as Ned checked it earlier, so Nancy is convinced someone came through there. Seth tells her it is stuck, so no one could get through it.
Wait a second!
Now how would he know that? He was looking for a prop. He must have tried to open the window, but why?
Later that night Nancy tries to get Ned, her friend George Fayne, and her Dad, Carson Drew to investigate with her to find out what is going on, but no wants to help. None are convinced that there is anything more to it then an old building that is falling apart. In fact Mr. Drew thinks they should move the play somewhere else, as that building is probably too old.
But Nancy is convinced there is far more to the tale and won’t give up. She notices how all the actors are completely hostile to each other, and there has to be another reason why they would all come that isn’t nostalgia. But what?
The plot thickens
That night the four visiting actors sneak out of their rooms and head over to the theater. They head down into the prop room and start taking it apart.
That night, unbeknownst to them, Ned decides to head over and check the place out. You see Ned is very full of himself (I cannot repeat this enough, he is not like that in the book series) and decides that he needs to recheck the light plan as his genius must reflect well on the actors. When he gets there he runs into Julia and Alex disposing of the bricks from the prop room wall.
This is one of the funniest scenes in the whole episode. Ned asks them what they are doing, and Alex tells him he needs the bricks to make a bed for his back, it is the only thing that can help him sleep. Ned finds it weird, but who is he to question it? He tries to head into the theater, but Julia stops him telling him he needs to go to bed and be well-rested. He says he doesn’t need to because he is young, and then Julia gets offended.
She yells at him, are you calling me old?
And Ned, like a typical male, knows that it is no time to argue but vamoose.
The next day, Nancy discovers the actors all asleep in the dressing room. They wonder what the heck is going on? Ned wakes them up and as they head upstairs to the stage, Ned tells Nancy about everything that happened the night before. Now Nancy is 100%s sure something is up, but what?
So while they are talking the actors are having their own discussion. They are a bit worried about Nancy as she is always watching them.
The other thing that is making them act crazy is they are all completely broke. Everyone has been paying a blackmailer for something they haven’t discussed, just yet. They know one of them must be the blackmailer, but which one is doing it?
So they rehearse, and just as they are about to break up for lunch, a light comes crashing down, nearly hitting some people.
Everyone thinks that it is just another accident in an old theater, but Nancy feels that these accidents are too deliberate. As if someone was purposely attacking the people performing. But which one is doing it?
So Nancy tries to get Ned and Mr. Carson to back her again, but they still just think all the mishaps are from an old building falling apart, not a saboteur. Ned says that he heard a door shut and he thinks someone might have been there, but wasn’t sure. George disagrees as she thinks it is the Phantom!
Nancy decides to put together a plan. She gets some phosphoric paint, and starts painting the areas in the prop room to discover who might be this “Phantom” messing with things.
Afterwards, the actors return and she puts her plan into motion. She turns off the lights and has George turn on the blacklight….and it shows that EVERYONE has the paint on them.
THEY ALL ARE A PART OF IT!!!
So Nancy overhears them talking and decides there is much more to this story. Time to head to the library and do some research.
They find the newspaper article and get some answers.
So Jason Hall went from town to town raising money and investors for the show, promising it would be an amazing thing. In fact he really took River Heights, Nancy’s hometown, for a ride. The play closed before it opened, and it turned out that Jason took off with it all!!!! Or at least that’s what people think because he just disappeared. It turned out that he never had New York critics coming, that he intended to take everyone for a ride. But is that it, or is there more to the story?
She starts thinking about it and everything starts coming together: the disappearance of Jason Hall, they all hate each other, they all are poor, etc. They must have done something to Jason. Someone is blackmailing them and they have no more money left. When they heard that the theater was going to be destroyed they must have decided to come back and clear up whatever evidence they have before it comes to light with the destruction.
Nancy thinks she has it figured out, now all she needs is to find the hard evidence to prove her theory.
While they are looking, the actors have been trying very hard to finish what they started. At last they have opened up the wall, and pulled out a sarcophagus. It turns out that Nancy was right. They did kill Jason, they hid the body in the sarcophagus, and sealed up the wall. They have been digging to get it out, so that their crime would not be discovered. And they have finally accomplished it.
When Ned spots them carrying it out, they tell him that Mr. Drew said they could have whatever props they wanted, and Seth wanted this one.
Nancy sees Ned who tells her about the sarcophagus and Nancy knows instantly, that must be where they put body. She tells her dad, who decides to call in the Sheriff.
As the group is gathered to open it, in walks the Sheriff. He demands to open it and when they do, they discover………………..
Yes everyone is shocked! What happened? Where is the body?
Everyone but the actors are sent on home, and they talk amongst themselves. Danny thinks that one of them came back and moved the body, only pretending to help dig it out, but which one did it?
That night is the performance and the mystery is bothering Nancy. Who is the blackmailer? What happened to Jason? Who has been sabotaging the theater?
She finally comes to the conclusion that the only solution that fits, is if Jason IS the blackmailer. Think about it: he somehow recovered from whatever they did to think they killed him and has been blackmailing them since. He must also be the person who has been sabotaging the theater. Yes that has to be it! Before she can tell Ned and everyone her cue comes, and she has to go onstage.
She goes onstage, and has to give everyone champagne, as she plays a maid. As she is giving out the glasses, she smells something odd.
Nancy stops the play, crushing the glasses and keeping everyone from drinking them. She then yells at George to put on the blacklight. As they scan the audience, they spot one man covered in phosphorus paint. They get him.
They pull off wig, fake glasses, and pretend nose. And discover that it is Jason. He has been alive the whole time.
Afterwards the crew met up so Nancy can get the whole story.
It turned out that Jason was a hustler and conman. He took the money for investing in the play and sent it to a private account in the Cayman Islands. He was planning in leaving the actors holding the bag, and having to pay for his crimes. They discovered this and argued with him, Jason fell and hit his head. They thought they killed him, so they buried the body in the wall, like in Edgar Allen Poe’s story The Black Cat. He escaped at one point and began blackmailing them, while the whole time they thought it was one of the five.
With everything done, the actors decide to finally stop bickering and continue in the play until enough money is raised for the youth center. Another case solved by Nancy Drew!
Feast your eyes! Glut your soul on my accursed ugliness
I love this movie so much that words fail to express how I feel. This movie was the one that not only was my gateway into horror films, but also caused a life-long love affair with classic cinema.
It all started one day at the library. I was about six years old and complaining to my mother that I couldn’t find any books to read. Nothing just felt right. You know what I mean, when a book synopsis just connects to you, and you know you need to take it home to read?
So my mother eager to get home, pulls a book off the shelf and suggests that I read it. Instead of paying attention to whatever novel she had in her hand, I saw the one behind it. It was The Phantom of the Opera; a slender, abriged, children’s version.
It became my new favorite book and I would check it out all the time, completely annoying my mother.
Later on I read the original, whole version; which I also love. It is written so well, if you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend it.
I just connected with this poor man. He was bullied and betrayed because he was disfigured. No one paid attention to his genius in building and composing. He was living a life alone in isolation. I wanted to go underground with him.
I would have gone off with him and loved him unlike Christine Daaé, she’s a total jerk and loser.
Anyways, not long after I was flipping the channels and stopped on TCM. I love TCM (Turner Classic Movies) with a passion. I wish I could watch it 24/7 as they show the most amazing films ever.
Anyways, so that day they were doing a biography on Lon Chaney, and mentioned that he played the Phantom. I was now sucked in and had to watch. The film was the biopic Man of a Thousand Faces. Lon Chaney quickly became my favorite actor as I just fell in love with what a genius he was. He used to wait outside the movie studio, using his make-up to change his apperance to better fit roles. His most famous one being of course, the Phantom.
Afterwards, they held a marathon of his films, but I stopped watching as they didn’t show the one I wanted to see. I now had to watch the 1925 film! I did more research and found out that it is one of the first films to use color, only being able to for the Masque of Red Death scene. It was supposesed to be one of the most dramatic scenes in the film.
I now absolutely HAD to see that film. I went and rented it, hoping that it would be as good as it sounded. It was better than that! The film was not only horrtastic, but simply, and honestly amazing! It also stayed very close to the book, making only a few changes, and doing a much better job than some other versions (the 1943 one, so bad 😦 ).
Now I know that silent film isn’t for everyone, but I suggest that you check it out.
So we start off the film with someone lurking in the catacombs of the opera house. We don’t know who he is or what he is after. Then we switch to the opera house, and the creme de la creme of the elite milling about. Everyone is settling down as the show is about to start.
We see the ballerinas on stage dancing away.
Reminds me of Degas
Meanwhile in an office upstairs, the opera house is being turned over to new owners. Owners who know nothing of what lurks in the belly of the building.
For there lies the Phantom and a friend. A Persian man that had traveled with him since the Phantom has been abroad, but no one knows more than that.
So the new opera owners have gained a lot of problems with their purchase. Besides having to pay the phantom money, give him box 5, and a few other amenities; he is also demanding that they replace Carlotta with Christine, the girl he has been coaching. Needless to say, this is very upsetting for Carlotta.
I refuse to be treated in such a manner
In fact the Phantom has threatened Carlotta if she does not stay away. Carlotta is most unhappy; and leaves declaring she will not sing that night.
Instead Christine Daaé sings beautifully. She is also noticed by the stupid Vicomte de Chagny. I really dislike Raoul, Team Phantom all the way!
In the book Raoul struck me as a real annoying guy. Like one who is always trying to do different things; but only does them halfheartedly, always expecting someone to bail them out of a jam. Then again I could be biased.
Anyways Stupid Raoul notices Christine and tries to get with her. But she is not as receptive, in fact telling him kindly to get lost as she has her career to think about.
Stupid Raoul goes to leave, but actually, is secretly waiting outside her door to spy on her.
Now for anyone out there; if you tell a person you want a relationship to end and they don’t listen and spy on you, you need to call the police and get rid of them. I can’t believe him. Raoul just went from stupid to stalker. I mean who listens outside their ex’s door like that? Who does that?
So Carlotta decides to sing anyway, even though she has been warned that bad things will happen. The Phantom makes sure that she will never want to sing again.
“Erik: Behold! She is singing to bring down the chandelier!”
So Christine goes to her room and Raoul being the creep he is follows her. Erik, the Phantom, calls to her and tells her to go through her mirror; which is really a trapdoor. The Phantom built the Opera House, so built himself a home underneath the Opera House along with tons of secret passage ways and hideouts.
The Phantom takes her to his subterranean home, across a hidden lake.
Christine is amazed and kind of freaked out being there with him. All she can focus on is the fact that he is wearing a mask. Erik starts telling Christine his life story, and the sadness it has brought him. She ends up fainting, and he carries her to his guest room; beautiful and full of things she will love. It has a whole wall of shoes!
The next day everyone is in an uproar as Christine is missing! She wakes up to hearing the organ being played by the Phantom. He has been working on an opera for a long time.
“Erik: Since I first saw your face, this music has been singing to me of you and of –love triumphant!”
While he is romantically sharing his feelings, Christine is determined to rip off his mask.
Lon Chaney is truly amazing! I mean look at him! He is so awesome looking! So creepy! He is such a genius, devising his own make-up. The Phantom’s makeup was designed to resemble a skull. Lon Chaney attached a strip of fish skin (a thin, translucent material) to his nostrils with spirit gum, pulled it back until he got the tilt he wanted, then attached the other end of the fish skin under his bald cap. For some shots, a wire-and-rubber device was used, and it cut into Chaney’s nose and caused a good deal of bleeding. Cheeks were built up using a combination of cotton and collodion. Ears were glued back and the rest was greasepaint shaded in the proper areas of the face. The sight was said to have caused some patrons at the premiere to faint.
Christine is completely shocked at his apperance. Mary Philbin, the actress who played Christine, reaction to the unmasked Phantom was real – she had no idea what he would look like until that exact moment.
So the Phantom is upset, but Christine has to stay with him. He is not about to let her go. Now I know that is not appropriate behavior, but I feel so bad for him. She loved him until she saw his face, Now he has nobody. 😦
Then they have the most amazing scene ever! This was one of the first films to have color! They do this huge masquerade scene in color and he comes as the Red Death! It is too fantastic for words. I cannot describe it, you will have to watch it. His entrance, his outfit, etc.
Erik: Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men! Thus does The Red Death rebuke your merriment!
Christine escapes from the Phantom and sneaks off with Raoul. They make plans to run away together, but little do they know that the Phantom has overheard everything.
Christine prepares to do her last performance, and as she is doing so, the Phantom comes and spirits her away. His only friend, a Persian courtier who has been with him through everything, goes to Raoul to lead him to Christine.
They go through the secret passage, but end up accidentally in the Phantom’s torture chamber.
The Phantom gives Christine two choices; she can choose to hit this ceramic scorpion,which means that she has chosen to marry the Phantom and be his forever, or the grasshopper which means death to Raoul and the opera house. The grasshopper if pressed will light a fuse of the gunpowder that is packed throughout the opera house and interconnected. Everything will blow! The scorpion is connected to a switch that will pump water into the bottom of the opera house and soak all the gunpowder and keep the opera house from blowing up.
She chooses the scorpion, but as the water starts to come up and drown Raoul. Christine asks the Phantom to save his life, that she will do anything for him if he does. He pulls Raoul out and then takes off with Christine, as the Parisians are hunting him down.
Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!
The villagers follow in pursuit. As they are running, Christine throws herself out of the carriage. The Phantom goes to her, but the villagers are too close and he takes off. Raoul goes to Christine, and the Phantom is “killed” by the people.
I’ve never been a fan of that idea, you can’t kill the phantom, he’s unbeatable!
I love him! Is that sad and pathetic?
That’s the post for today. More to come! 4 days ’till Halloween!
Here’s poster I made for my cover page on facebook in honor or Halloween. Hope ya love it.