Lon Chaney's power to terrify
February 18, 2006 12:48 PM   Subscribe

"He was someone who acted out our psyches ... He somehow got into the shadows inside our bodies; he was able to nail down some of our secret fears and put them on-screen... the history of Lon Chaney is the history of unrequited loves. He brings that part of you out into the open, because you fear that you are not loved, you fear that you never will be loved, you fear there is some part of you that's grotesque, that the world will turn away from."
A Valentine for Lon Chaney, the Man of a Thousand Faces. (BugMeNot for the first link; more inside)
posted by matteo (14 comments total)
The quote above comes from Ray Bradbury.
What are some of your favorite films, and what makes them unforgettable to you?

# The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Lon Chaney, which I saw when I was three. The film convinced me that there was a little bit of The Hunchback in me at an early age.

# The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney, which terrified me but sent me on the road to becoming the great lover of Chaney's films. When he died when I was ten, I figured no one was safe.

# The Mummy, 1932, with Boris Karloff. It is a sensitive, simple, and wondrously frightening film, one of the best of its kind.

# King Kong, 1933. Of all the monster films ever made, this is the greatest. It has a grandeur about it and an element of unrequited love between Beauty and The Beast. It remains one of the greatest films ever made.

# H.G. Wells's Things to Come, 1936, because at the end it told me about outer space and of travels to the Moon. When I staggered out of the movie I decided that I would spend the rest of my life trying to do something about going to the Moon and Mars.

# Lawrence of Arabia. There is no way to even begin to comment on this film. It is grand in every direction you want to take it.

# As Good as it Gets, with Jack Nicholson. This film has an incredible screenplay, incredible cast, and incredible direction. It's one of the most perfect films of its kind ever made.

# The Haunting, 1962, directed by Robert Wise. This is the finest horror film of its kind ever made because it terrifies you without showing you anything; it's all light and shadows.
posted by matteo at 12:50 PM on February 18, 2006

Lon ChaneyTod Browning: The Unholy Two

The Films of Lon Chaney
posted by matteo at 12:52 PM on February 18, 2006

high quality movie scans
posted by matteo at 12:53 PM on February 18, 2006

there's lon chaney and there's lon chaney. please don't confuse them.
posted by namagomi at 1:01 PM on February 18, 2006

who did?
posted by matteo at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2006

Oh, this is wonderful, matteo.

I have a very clear memory of my grandfather -- an immensely tough boxer and trashman who could make your hair go white with just a glare -- looking away from the television during the famous Phantom of the Opera scene where Chaney reveals that hideous half-skull face. He very quietly said it had badly frightened him when he first saw it at the theater years ago. It's the only thing I can remember him being visibly afraid of.

Great post! (You've had so many lately, too -- thank you so much!)
posted by melissa may at 1:09 PM on February 18, 2006

Holy cow, I didn't even realize there was a Lon Chaney/Tod Browning fest going on at UCLA currently! I know what I'm doing for the next couple of weekends...
posted by scody at 1:21 PM on February 18, 2006

As Good As it Gets???? Wow, one of these things is not like the others.

Great post, matteo!
posted by psmealey at 1:22 PM on February 18, 2006

Well, scody, if you see a guy with big thick glasses and a corduroy blazer...that's prolly me, doing the exact same thing.

Excellent post, and fantastic article by Turran! Well played.
posted by ford and the prefects at 2:30 PM on February 18, 2006

Chaney Speaks!!
posted by pracowity at 2:39 PM on February 18, 2006

Great post, thanks. Most folks know him for his "monster" movie roles, like Phantom and Hunchback, but The Unknown is a pretty sick (and really good) move.
posted by marxchivist at 2:39 PM on February 18, 2006

NEVER go on a hunting trip with Chaney.
posted by orthogonality at 3:41 PM on February 18, 2006

He owned a great hunting cabin though.
posted by hortense at 6:47 PM on February 18, 2006

Hee! A post to delight all the children of the night. ;)
posted by dejah420 at 5:15 PM on February 19, 2006

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