Friday, October 14, 2022

Review: 'The Monster' (1925) DVD

In 1959, Crane Wilbur directed an excellent adaptation of Mary Roberts Rinehart's old dark house stage play The Circular Staircase. 34 years earlier, Roland West did the same for Wilbur's own old dark house play The Monster

While lacking the charm of Wilbur's film, The Bat, and indulging in a host of hoary horror cliches and such period groaners as a nefarious character in blackface (and torso) and a depiction of mental illness that would not earn a thumbs up from the APA, The Monster has certain things to recommend it. Most obviously, there's Lon Chaney as the title character, not a supernatural beastie but a mad scientist with a penchant for torture and the kooky scheme to transfer souls between his captives. Yes, there are the requisite rainstorms and hands reaching out from nowhere that no ODH picture can do without, but there are also some truly impressive circus stunts at the climax of the film. 90 minutes of this stuff feels nearly endless, but there are worse ways to spend your time during Halloween season.

Now you can spend it with Reel Vault's new DVD edition of The Monster. The image is incredibly clean. You'd be hard pressed to find much in the way of scratches, flecks, or other flaws in this 97-year-old movie. There are some stability problems with the brightness, which pulses throughout the film, but none worth mentioning with the grain. Keith Taylor's piano soundtrack is effective enough but nearly identical to (or identical to, I honestly can't tell) his one for Reel Vault's Nosferatu Blu-ray.

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