100 years has not lessened the impact and importance of the brilliant 1925 horror film “The Phantom of the Opera” — as essential today as it was back then.
In today’s modern age, we often find ourselves inundated with content — not just with the total amount of titles available, but with the total number of streaming services to choose from. It seems like every week, there is some new, niche streaming service asking for $5 a month to grant access to their vast library of tv shows and movies.
However, of all of the streaming services available, the one I have found to have the best selection of older, pre-1970s content doesn’t cost a penny. I’m, of course, talking about Tubi.
This week’s Tubi Tuesday is one of the oldest and well known silent horror films of all time, 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera.
The original work, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, has been adapted numerous times, including multiple films.
Adaptations include the 1943 film with Claude Rains and the 1962 version by Hammer films, which was the first to include the legendary Toccata and Fugue in D Minor — a piece of music that has since become a staple in horror films and Halloween playlists.
There have been numerous attempts to set the story in a more modern setting, like 1974’s The Phantom of the Paradise, which is set in a rock n’ roll bar instead of an Opera, and 1989’s hidden gem, Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge.
There was even a small period of time around 1999 where the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage play of Phantom had Paul Stanley from KISS playing the legendary character.
But all these pale in comparison to the grand spectacle of the Phantom strutting through the party dressed as the Red Death.
“Into the midst of revelry, strode a spectral figure, robed in red”
The original film, of course, stars Lon Chaney Sr. as the titular Phantom. It featured what, at the time, were groundbreaking special effects used to create an image of the creature which shocked audiences in the early days of cinema.
And even though the makeup effects are now 100 years old, they still hold up to this day.
Modern horror fans often look back at older movies and laugh at the poor special effects. Sometimes we see a film from just a couple of decades ago, and we mock the first attempts at CGI effects. Other times, we watch a 50-year-old film and laugh at dated styrofoam monsters that seem far more silly than scary.
However, no one should be laughing when the character Christine (Mary Philbin) pulls off the Phantom’s mask and finally reveals his ghastly face.
Although crude and primitive, the makeup that reportedly left Chaney a bloody mess created a visceral audience reaction that still resonates today — with techniques incorporated by modern effects artists a century later.
To be fair, a nearly 100-year-old film may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The picture quality on Tubi is not the best, as the version on their platform is not the technicolor enhanced, HD version you would get from a Criterion Blu-ray. However, for the horror connoisseur, it still remains essential viewing.
The Phantom of the Opera is a horror love story similar to Dracula. It features a horrendous beast chased through the town by a mob with pitchforks, much like the misunderstood monster in Frankenstein. Like both those iconic films, The Phantom of the Opera is an influential horror classic that deserves another watch.
Check out this timeless classic, now streaming for free on Tubi!