“The Phantom of the Opera,” starring legendary actor Lon Chaney in the title role, remains a landmark work of the cinematic horror genre. It’s an atmosphere that silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis will try to enhance in improvising live music on the spot for the screenings.
The original Phantom is a film that seems to get creepier as more time passes,” said Rapsis, who is based in New Hampshire and accompanies films at venues around the nation. “It’s a great way to celebrate Halloween, and also the power of silent film to transport audiences to strange and unusual places.”
“The Phantom of the Opera,” adapted from a 19th century novel by French author Gaston Leroux, featured Chaney as the deformed phantom who haunts the opera house. The phantom, seen only in the shadows, causes murder and mayhem in an attempt to force the opera’s management to make the woman he loves into a star.
The film is famous for Chaney’s intentionally horrific, self-applied makeup, which was kept a studio secret until the film’s premiere. He transformed his face by painting his eye sockets black, creating a cadaverous skull-like visage. He also pulled the tip of his nose up and pinned it in place with wire, enlarged his nostrils with black paint, and put a set of jagged false teeth into his mouth to complete the ghastly deformed look.
The Whitingham Free Public Library aims to re-create all the essential elements of the silent film experience: high quality prints shown on a large screen, with live music and an audience.
Admission is free. For more information call (802) 368-7506 or visit www.townofwhitingham-vt.org.