The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

phantom of the opera poster 1962 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice looking film

The story is a bit all over the place

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Phantom of the Opera

Studio:  Hammer Film Productions

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  June 25, 1962

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

phantom of the opera herbert lom organ

The Phantom secretly can only play “Old MacDonald”

The opera house is haunted, and the new opera by Lord Ambrose d’Arcy (Michael Gough) seems to be cursed by mishaps, mayhem, and murder.  When a young, promising singer named Christine Charles (Heather Sears) turns down d’Arcy’s advances, she is struck from the production and left with no means to support herself.  Christine sparks the interest of Harry Hunter (Edward de Souza) and the “Phantom” (Herbert Lom)…a mysterious figure who is responsible for the problems striking the production.  As Harry hunts down the Phantom and his origins, Christine finds herself the prisoner of the mad composer as his quest for revenge increases!

phantom of the opera 1962 heather sears herbert lom

That awkward moment when the Phantom realizes Christine isn’t a good singer

Directed by Terence Fisher, The Phantom of the Opera is a gothic horror thriller.  The film is an adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera which was released from 1909-1910.  The movie was a joint effort between Universal and Hammer and failed at the box office.  Since its release, the movie has gained a cult following.

The Phantom of the Opera is a very strange story.  The film and story is generally presented as a horror story despite generally being a romance with gothic elements.  Here, the romance is downplayed and the horror is amplified, but it isn’t very horrific.

phantom of the opera acid fire herbert lom

Lesson learned…don’t use acid to put out fires

The Phantom of the Opera always kind of scared me as a kid.  The images of Lon Chaney combined with a TV version in 1983 freaked me out.  This version doesn’t have the classic mask and the Phantom just doesn’t raise as much fear in me.  His story’s tragedy is played up and his insanity is less of a statement…in fact, he doesn’t bring down the chandelier and his added Igor character does it instead (they could have the nice and wronged phantom almost kill his perfect voice).

The movie really stars Heather Sears as Christine Charles and Edward de Souza as Harry Hunter since the Phantom often takes a back seat to the rest of the actors.  The movie was originally envisioned as a horror role for Carey Grant (it is debated if he was supposed to be the Phantom or Harry Hunter) but Herbert Lom takes the role of the Phantom.  Michael Gough (who was a staple in Horror at the time) later went on to fame in his later years as Alfred Pennyworth in the Batman films.  Doctor Who’s Second Doctor Patrick Troughton plays the doomed Rat Catcher.

phantom of the opera herbert lom make-up face ending

Now I must randomly take off my mask to save Christine!!!

The visuals for the film are like typical Hammer Horror films.  The coloring is bright and vibrant.  I like the “burn” sequence which is shot with crazy angles (and it was always the scariest part of Phantom movies if they show it).  The movie also forces the unmasking of the Phantom who decides he MUST take his mask off before rescuing Christine from the chandelier to expose the studio’s makeup work.

This Phantom of the Opera isn’t my favorite version of the film and most films actually get it wrong by not being sure what the tone of the film should be.  The film isn’t a very good horror film in comparison to some of Hammer’s other monster movies and it isn’t a good suspense or mystery film in regards to the Phantom.  It has a classic feel and that isn’t always evident in horror so fans of classic horror might enjoy more than those seeking thrills and chills.

Related Links:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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