An Egyptian prince hopes to bring back his lost love under the shadow of the Sphinx. But, as Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee would later discover, there’s always a catch in such a plan.
Lon Chaney may be the reason most people see this film but he isn’t the star. The hero is Johnny Arthur, a wannabe detective who took a correspondence course. Old dark house flick with mad scientists and general creepiness, it just misses being a classic in the genre. Not without its pleasures and better if you go in knowing what to expect.
You don’t need to tell Lon Chaney about strange. He created all kinds of strange on the silver screen. These modern whippersnappers don’t know what strange is.
No one could gnaw scenery like Lon Chaney, I think we can all agree on that little point. Even though he makes his entrance late in The Monster, he still manages some moments of exquisite hamminess.
You think my headline was exaggerating? No, this is exactly what he is trying to do. Our hapless heroes are staying the night in his asylum (!) and he is trying to assure them that all is well and normal and not at all dangerous. Mwahaha.
The Monster gets a fair amount of flak but I took it for what it was. It’s a little horror comedy meant to entertain for an hour or so. Nothing more, nothing less. Chaney clearly understands that he is working with pure hokum and he adjusts his performance accordingly. Is it a masterpiece? No. Is it a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon? You’d better believe it!
(You can read my full-length review here. And, yes, I do address the “stolen from Sherlock Jr.” rumors.)
Availability: Warner Archive released this film on DVD. Nice print, good score, good buy.
Sometimes, I feel like a mother with a particularly picky child.
“Just try a few minutes of a silent movie.”
“No! I’ll hate it! It’s icky!”
“Just a little.”
“No, no, no!!!!”
If you have seen silent movies and don’t like them, well, that’s the way it crumbles, cookie-wise. But if you have seen nary a one and yet still have an opinion? Oh, honey, no.
Lon Chaney knows exactly how to get what he wants in The Monster. The heroes don’t want to see the, heh heh heh, room he has prepared? He doesn’t rely on threats. He simply insists that they take a look. (You can read my review of the movie here.)
Don’t be surprised if a take up a silver cigarette holder (even though I do not smoke) and repeat this line at my next movie night.
Availability: Available on DVD from Warner Archive.
No could do creepy quite like Lon Chaney. I’m not sure anyone wanted to do creepy quite like Lon Chaney. Well, Mr. Chaney had some rather practical methods for creeping out his house guests in The Monster. (You can read my review here.)
Step 1: Put on a big grin. A bizarrely long cigarette holder is an excellent accessory.
Step 2: Wait until your guest says some variation of “see you in the morning.”
Step 3: Grin wider and say, “Who knows if one will EVER see the morning?”
Step 4: Slowly close the door behind you.
Voila! With any luck, your house guest will flee and you will be rid of him.
(The Monster got a very nice release from Warner Archive. Good print, good score.)
Mysterious events are afoot in the tiny town of Danburg. Unexplained accidents, missing persons, an abandoned sanitarium… Our nebbish hero is a would-be detective who is determined to get to the bottom of things. He gets more than he bargained for when he runs into Dr. Ziska, played by none other than Lon Chaney.
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