Feast Your Eyes On My Accursed Ugliness: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

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.

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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.

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I would have gone off with him and loved him unlike Christine Daaé, she’s a total jerk and loser.

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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 FacesLon 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.

Phantom of the Opera

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 😦 ).

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Now I know that silent film isn’t for everyone, but I suggest that you check it out.

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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!

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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?

How rude

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.

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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.

Phantom of the Opera

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.

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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!

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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.

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To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

For the previous post, go to They’re Coming to Get You Barbara 

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For more on The Phantom of the Opera, go to My Favorite Movie Lines

For more on classic horror films, go to I Want Friend Like Me

For more films based on books, go to Quite a Horror Story

For more films that spanned countless remakes, go to I Bid You Welcome

For more of my favorite quotes, go to I’m No Warrior, I’m an Assistant Pig-Keeper

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Secrets are Great, Unless You Get Caught: Perfect Stranger (2007)

Secrets are great. Unless you get caught.

So a week ago I had some free time and was flipping through channels, planning on just zoning out in front of the TV until my next class. I landed on FX and started watching this movie with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. It seemed really good, but I couldn’t finish it as I had to run off to my next class. I decided to rent it  and finish watching it as the plot really intrigued me. Unfortunately; it wasn’t very good. I thought it had too many sexual scenes that were just awkward and painful to get through, I ended up having to fast forward through them all. I also thought they dropped the F-bomb too many times. I’m not one who curses at all, but I think everyone who does will agree with me that there are times when the F-Bomb is said too many times that it loses its meaning and makes the person just look stupid.

I also didn’t like Halle Berry’s character Ro. I thought that she was a mean, selfish jerk. Her friend Miles is head over heels crazy for her, and Ro knows this and instead of letting him off gently; she is totally rude to him, just using him for all the information he can get. Now I know I have been a total witch to guys (check out the Elton Saga: 1,2,& 3 plus lame lines  and flirting post), but at least I never toyed with a guys affections to get him to retrieve information for me.

The only really good part about this film is the end. It was amazing! I wish there was a way one could just watch it and understand the rest of the film.

Here are the links if you want to check it out yourself.

FYI Spolier Alert

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So the movie starts out with Halle Berry’s character Ro, a journalist,  tricking a senator into revealing all of his dirty secrets.

Ro is pretty high on her recent sucess and goes out to celebrate with her best friend/computer whiz/guy madly in love with her that she doesn’t care for, Miles. After she becomes extrremely drunk, she ends up being told by her boss that they are burying the story. Extremely angry that her freedom of press is being stomped on, she quits.

She starts on home feeling angry and crappy. She’about to board the subway and head home, when her old school friend she hasn’t spoken to in years; and is really mad at, because she slept with her boyfriend, Grace approaches her.

Hey girl, what up?

Turns out Grace met this guy, ADEX, online and had cybersex with him, later meeting up with him in real life. It turns out that “ADEX” was really the rich and famous Harrison Hill. She and him had a big fling and now she is threatening to blackmail him. She also wants Ro to write this up for the paper and completely embarass Hill. Ro blows her off and continues on home.

A week later, Ro gets a call from Grace’s mom telling her Grace is thought to be dead. Ro goes and identifies the drowned body, confirming that it is Grace. From here Ro decides she is going to take on Hill, and get him for what he did. She enlists Miles who has all the knowledge and contacts to pull off a caper like this.

She starts working at Hill’s Ad agency and quickly makes friends with the biggest gossip there; thus learning all the dirty secrets on everyone. Apparently Hill has had many affairs, all of which his wife is tired of. In fact, if he does it one more time, she’s leaving him. Now you might think, so what? He can get along without her. Wrong-o! Turns out Hill has nothing, nada, zip! His wife has the money, the company, EVERYTHING! He wouldn’t dare let her know that he was having another affair or else he would be kicked to the curb. He pretends to be the dutiful husband, going along with her to fertility tanks, because his wife is infertile. Sounds like a motive to me.

Then Ro witnesses what Hill does to people he thinks are betraying him. He beats up on one of his employees that he thinks is spilling secrets to their competitor.

Don’t make me angry

So more and more he is looking like the villain. But is it ever that easy?

Now there are a lot of web chatting, and online sex, and gross things…between her, TruBlue (random guy she meets online), and ADEX.

Oh and Ro has these weird flashbacks throughout the film that involve her father. They don’t outright say it, but strongly hint that he was molesting/raping her as a child. At times they become a mishmash of flashback/present day dream/nightmarelike things. They get very confusing at times.

Then the movie gets intense again. Ro has pretty much confirmed that ADEX is Hill. And she starts talking to him online AT WORK! I mean COME ON! HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE?

I mean the stupidity level is on par with taking a shower when there are monsters running about. Just saying.

So of course she has stuff on her screen that she doesn’t want Hill to see, and he just HAS to come over to talk to her. The scene is actually pretty intense ands set up very well.

So Ro is able to get out of that tight spot, and turns down her boss’ offer to go out with him, wanting instead to keep things “professional”.

That night she meets up with Miles, once again being  complete dermo (a word I created for loser/jerk/b**** who uses someone. I actually found out the definition for the “true” word isn’t that far off. Cool, huh?) to him. Miles brings a friend who works with the coroner. Apparently Grace was not just drowned but drugged with Belladonna and had some put in her eyes. Hill’s wife’s family has donated a ton of money to medical research, a majority of that which used Belladonna. Hmm…suspicious. Also, after she was poisoned, Grace was drowned. She was also pregnant. Things are looking worse and worse for Hill.

*At this point in the film I have already decided that it is not Hill. It is way too obvious and I think that there is another character who has a stronger motive, Hill’s wife. What if Grace approached the wife right after talking to Ro. Maybe the wife was one of those women who couldn’t stand to lose her man and would take out any woman who dared try to take him from her. What if all those past affairs have just been compounding on her brain all these years, and she just snaps hearing about this one. But the most likely motive; she couldn’t bear to hear that after trying so long to be pregnant and being infertile, that this little tramp got pregnant by her husband. The one thing she could not do, being done by some harlot? That’s enough to drive any woman to the brink of insanity. It would be easy, all she would have to do is meet up with Grace to see the proof, give her a drink laced with the Belladonna, which of course would be easy for her to get, and kill her. If she didn’t want to do it herself she has plenty of money to hire someone to do it for her.

Anyways, so Ro goes out with Hill after all to try and probe his mind a little. She ends up being slightly charmed by him instead.

The next day he comes to pick her up and we see his wife is creepin’ on them from a taxi. Makes her look totally suspicious.

Ro is trying to get into Hill’s computer to get a look at his emails. Miles give her a spyware program on a flashdrive, but it tkes some time so she has to do it when Hill won’t be around. She waits until after work, when everyone is gone and sticks it in. Only prob is, Hill hasn’t left yet. She’s caught red-handed.

She ends up making up a dumb story involving a private joke the two shared the night they went out.

For some strange reason he buys her answer and takes her out to dinner. They are having fun, making out, etc; and Ro leaves to go to the bathroom. And she leaves her purse and phone behind.

Okay, hold up now, what woman does that? What woman would leave to go to the bathroom and not take her purse and phone. Bad call writers, bad call.

So while she is gone her phone goes off, and Hill decides that he’s gonna read her text message. Seriously, who does that? Does he not understand the word “privacy”?

She comes back, and Hill starts driving her home. He stops in a random place and then starts yelling at her. Telling her he knows her secrets, that she is a spy from their rival competitors. Ro, trying to save herself, admits to it. Hill becomes so angry that he almost hits her.

Let’s rewind and back that up. Almost hits her. At this point in the film I knew it wasn’t him. He just had the sense that he would never hurt a woman. And I found it odd that the only thing he thought Ro was trying to discover about him was spying for another company? It just seemed off to me. I mean if he had killed Grace, Miles message would have made him think that Ro was onto him about that, yet the only thing that comes to mind is a rival company spy? Hmm….

So Ro is fired. Now this is where the story gets weird.

Miles decided to go in and save the day. The next day he pretends to be an IT guy for Hill, ready to do a complete inspection on Hill’s computer. Hill tells him to wait a bit and check out the office. He looks at these photographs done by Mrs. Hill of eyes dilluted with Belladonna.

At this point I’m completely sold on the fact that Mrs. H is the murderer.

Meanwhile, Ro goes to Miles house to make him dinner and discovers that he has some freaky, jacking-off, man-cave, room thing. Really gross and freaky. She also sees that Miles was TruBlue and had been sleeping with Grace.

ew! Gross Yuck

He also channeled Helga from Hey Arnold with a super creepy Ro shrine. Its actually talks and says “Miles is sexy” in Ro’s actual voice. Very sick.

Yeah, pretty freaky!

Miles comes home and Ro starts yelling at him, and accusing him of being the murderer. Miles admits he’s a freak but shows her Hill’s company’s website with the Belladonna pics. He is now absolutely convinced that Hill or his wife killed Grace. Ro still won’t listen and walks out, never wanting to speak to Miles again.

The next day she takes all her info to the police and they set up a sting to catch Hill. Everything pretty much falls apart as the evidence is so high against him. His wife gives some pretty damaging evidence against him. Hill is convicted and sent to jail.

Ro goes back to work and starts writing an article on everything that went on. She has a really great opening:

Ro: It’s a world where you *think* actions have no consequence, where guilt is cloaked by anonymity, where there are no fingerprints. An invisible universe filled with strangers, interconnected online and disconnected in life. It will steal your secrets, corrupt your dreams, and co-opt your identity. Because in this world, where you can be anything you want, any *one* you want, you just might lose sight of who you are.

So here, the movie seems pretty wrapped up, but you just know there has to be one last twist. I’m waiting for the wife to go crazy or be discovered or something.

So then we have this great shot of Mrs. Hill going to the medicine cabinet (where she kept the Belladonna) and opening it. Then we see gloved hands pull out some hair spray, unscew the bottom (like in Jurassic Park) and pull out Belladonna. The person is………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Ro.

Yes Ro. Ro is trying to dump out her secret Belladonna down the drain. Ro then has a flashback and we get the whole story. Her father was going to molest her, when her mom stepped in and beat her dad with the fireplace poker. Instead of calling the cops they buried him in the backyard, and Grace saw the whole thing and has been blackmailing her for years. Watch the video:

Great ending. Only great part of the film.

I especially love how they review the scene between her and Grace. You now get the full meaning of the words that she used when talking to Ro.

The only thing I didn’t like was the moving around of Miles and Ro when he is telling her he had it all figured out. I thought it was just weird. Ugh, and Miles was so gross trying to blackmail her into sleeping with him, yuck!

I love how in the end Hill wasn’t the “perfect stranger”, but they all were. Each character had secrets and things about them they were hiding; in the end being someone completely different than you expected.

So that’s today’s freaky tale. More are on the way.

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To go to the beginning of Horrorfest, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

For the previous post, go to Universal’s Classic Monster Movies

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For more on unrequited love, go to Feast Your Eyes On My Accursed Ugliness