Monsters & Memories #5: The Phantom (1931)

Look out, Groovy Ghoulies! If there’s a sound behind the bookcase, or if you feel like the eyes in the painting are following you; you just might be followed by “The Phantom!” This 1931 film was written and directed by Alan James, who would later direct some of the Dick Tracy motion pictures.

We get a film this time around, not based on a play. I thought it was decent. I found myself thinking of 1930’s “The Bat Whispers” while watching it. The formula seemed very much the same. The Phantom escapes from jail in the opening moments of the film, which I enjoyed very much. It was a daring escape onto a moving train which led to a plan with a rope ladder underneath. I thought the beginning was filmed very well. It had a silent film sense to it, and I wondered if it the film was originally meant to be a silent film but was updated to talkie as the technology presented itself at the time.

From there, we find out The Phantom wants revenge on the DA who put him away.  The Phantom stalks around the old mansion with secret passageways and secret panels.  The Phantom escapes to a nearby asylum, and things picked up for me here.  We meet Dr. Weldon, and he has his own secrets.

The cast was not bad. I enjoyed William Jackie as Lunatic Oscar at the Asylum. He had a funny chicken walk, goose
step that had me cracking up. We got more comedy relief with Violet Knights and Bobby Dunn as the maid and chauffeur being scared by everything going on around them.

The movie has some good moments, just not huge in the scares department.  Not a bad mystery, and if you like forgotten movies, give it a shot.

Keeping in the mystery sense, Parker Brothers had a cool board game out in 1979, called “Stop Thief.” You would get clues as to where the Thief was in the neighborhood via an electronic remote. There was glass breaking sounds, doors opening, footsteps, and sirens when you tried to apprehend the crook.  It was just a real fun game.  I remember playing it for hours.  When, you thought you knew where the thief was, you would put in the coordinates and wait to see if you captured him or a very obnoxious buzzer sound telling you, you didn’t.

Time to check out some Comments from The Crypt:

From Rob G: I used to be called groovey gouley. nice job

From Scott K: Hey Ed, I read your review for Dracula. Nice job! I haven’t seen a lot of those old horror films, but you are definitely sparking my interest with them…

Thanks Rob and Scott! If I can shed some light, and get these classics back out there, that’s a great feeling at the end of the day. Thanks everyone for your comments.  Please all, drop me a line at  Love to hear your comments, questions, stories about these movies and toys!

There’s a storm rolling in Ghoulies, and I think I’m wanted back at the asylum now. But, have no fear. Another horror classic is right around the corner. Until then, watch the skies!

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