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Old 10-05-2016, 09:43 PM
helenedwards helenedwards is offline
Little Boo
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 5
The Phantom 1931

I just watched this picture for the first time. With a mad scientist working toward a brain transplantation who is planning to use the unwilling ingenue as a subject, it seems like the film's horror credentials are sufficient.

The film surely has problems. The plot is difficult to follow as the dots can be difficult to connect. Insufficient energy is expended in exposition leaving the audience within its rights to wonder "who is The Phantom and why should we care?" We know he was facing execution at the time of his escape, but execution for what the film never troubles to say. There's a lot assumed about the audience in omitting these details. I'm not always eager to see people executed in horror films, THE WALKING DEAD cured me of that. That said, there are some pleasures here. The minimally explained daring escape by The Phantom from the penitentiary featured some solid stunts. The entire sequence at the district attorney's home was tense owing to The Phantom's threat to be there to confabulate with the district attorney at 12:30 AM. The grandfather clock prominent in many shots keep the audience apprised of the time of night. The district attorney plays his nervousness well. While this entire sequence turns out to be a feint, the caped figure's inaudible clue that The Phantom is at the nearby sanitarium providing the only useful material from a plot standpoint in this sequence that dominates the film's 62 minute running time, yet it offers a few interesting shots and the usual fun houses with secret passages and gloomy countenance provide within genre pictures. Several of the denizens of Dr. Walden's sanitarium take interesting turns baffling the newsman, society columnist, chauffeur, and maid who find themselves making a wee-hours visit to the doctor. The film is at its best allowing narratively irrelevant characters to take charge in odd set pieces. The best of these belong to a lanky inmate of the sanitarium with a Swedish accent.

The thing that inspired me to watch it and get a thread on it started is that it is inarguably a horror film. The Phantom's actual plot, once it is tardily revealed, is the stuff of many other horror films. That the doctor is so cavalier in his ambition to cut into the skulls of unwilling subjects lends the film a little "banality of evil" quality that could be unsettling if anyone bothered to let it. I'm not advising anyone to rush out and catch this picture, but I'd sure like to read the thoughts on it of horror fans who have.

Last edited by helenedwards; 12-26-2016 at 08:49 AM.
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