Kidnapping isn’t so bad according the Phantom

phantom2I finally got the chance to see The Phantom of the Opera (1962), a film made by Hammer, the creators of the 1958 Dracula classic.   It’s actually not bad.  It has plenty of flaws and the plot is just nonsensical, but a lot of the cheesiness has been turned down in favor of general horror.  This movie does not have the “blood and guts” horror elements of today’s movies, instead relying on a general sense of creepiness.  It works in a few scenes, I think.  The other scenes make no sense.

Phantom ’62 stars Herbert Lom as the Phantom and he does some good work.  His voice is especially good, fitting of the creepy and weird character I picture whenever I hear of this strange story.  Lom was not famous (and well-known to me) until later when he starred in The Pink Panther series of movies, where he played the frustrated Chief Inspector, boss of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau.  He goes mostly over the top in those silly movies, but it’s all in good fun.  The same thing in Phantom ’62.  

phantom3There is one scene in particular where Lom’s Phantom speaks to Christine, and he seems like an omnipresent ghoul, as he goes unseen for the scene.  Christine only hears his eerie voice, as he commands her to sing for him.  There are some other scenes like that early in the film, as The Phantom haunts the opera.  He disrupts one showing by seemingly throwing a deadman through the curtain on a rope.

Later in the film, The Phantom takes on a more anti-hero role, and he tries to bring his work to the stage, revealing that years earlier, the evil, evil opera owner stole it.  The Phantom kidnaps Christine to reveal this plot point, and Christine’s real boyfriend tries to track her down.  When he does, Christine has gained some sort of respect for The Phantom, which doesn’t make much sense to me.  He’s not such a bad kidnapper, I guess? Maybe Christine is really forgiving.  She decides to stay with The Phantom to learn how to sing better.  She didn’t sound any different to me.  Oh well.

The Phantom is given some backstory and some motivations for being a silly anti-hero in this movie.  This motivation is not so different than the Broadway production, although most of the plot is different.  The Broadway production has more in common with the Lon Chaney silent movie than with this one.  The ending is also different.

Anyway, Christine tries to sing better, and The Phantom slaps her around for missing a few notes.  Does she get mad?  Nope.  She just continues learning how to sing better, even though she doesn’t sound any different.  Maybe The Phantom isn’t such a good teacher!  He’s actually kind of abusive.  Maybe that’s why there’s no love story.

Christine is not exactly a strong character in this movie, and she’s not much more than a stupid plot device, because nobody would react the way she does.  Nobody would stay with a strange guy after they were kidnapped and nobody would continue working with somebody after being slapped.  That’s really the only fault I had a big problem with, because the rest of the movie is decent.  There is some atrocious singing by other characters, but that’s okay.  Maybe The Phantom should have kidnapped more people and taught them to sing better.  I’m guessing it wouldn’t have helped.