Well, phew. After a few days depending entirely of the recent years of horror, here comes a breath of fresh air in the form of this 1925 Lon Chaney picture that apparently was highly influential according to the impressive and highly informative video that James Rolfe did for his Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness, and which video you can watch here. So, what did I personally actually think of this apparent chiller? Well, you just have to continue reading and you’ll know what I thought of the whole thing.
Sadly there’s not much else to say about ‘The Monster’ (1925) than what James had to say in his video, and I can only assert towards what I felt when watching it. I felt that I was watching a Buster Keaton rip-off. The protagonist was really similar in terms of posture, attitude and even his body shape was similar to what we could see in ‘Sherlock Jr.’ (1924), where this movie really lifts most of its comedy elements, with a character that tries to be a detective even though he’s not really prepared for it, and thus he finds himself in the spooky haunted house of Dr. Ziska, played by Lon Chaney Sr., who is perhaps the best thing that this movie has to offer, a wonderful performance filled with the ticks and the bumps and the bings that would make it a genre staple in the future. The laboratory and the scenes in the slabs are certainly influential til this day, and they manage to become superlative and ridiculous at the same time in terms of the absurd aims that he has (transferring souls), but the rest of the film is a meandering parody of the much better comedy shorts of Keaton, including those he did regarding haunted mansions. While I think that this movie might be as influential as its told, many of the elements that we find here were also present in the Keaton shorts, so I might pose the question that maybe the real inspiration for the modern chiller haunted house film is a comedy director. Of course this movie has its importance, but it’s mostly derivative of better material, and it’s only when it turns to the crazy scientist that it achieves any sort of importance to the genre. Again, sadly, not much else to say here.