Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 14 October 2011 00:00
Leave it to The Movie Man, John Carpenter to thrill pre-Halloween crowds with a film that features the most outright scariest actor to ever fill a movie screen in any American theatre.
On Saturday, Oct. 29 at 2 p.m., on the weekend before Halloween, The Man of 1,000 movies will be presenting a film featuring The Man of 1,000 Faces as The Penalty, a 1920 classic staring Lon Chaney will be shown at the Bar Harbor Library.
Last year, Carpenter presented Chaney in his most famous role, The Phantom of The Opera. The 1925 classic had the audience so transfixed that they only left the library when its doors were set to close for the day.
The Penalty is an early Chaney classic. This giant of the early years of Hollywood portrays a double amputee “hell bent on revenge,” as Carpenter terms it, to an incompetent doctor who amputated both of the character’s legs when the victim was only a small child.
Chaney was a sensation of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Generations of Americans still recall being scared out of the wits by Chaney’s monster roles. Entire audiences were sent flying under the seats of packed movie theaters once Chaney was on the prowl. One of those early moviegoers was Massapequa resident Gretchen Gilberti, who often attended now-classic films with her mother when the price was only a nickel. As Gretchen related to The Movie Man, she too sought refugee under the finely upholstered movie house seats during the high tide of Chaney’s popularity. Gretchen is now looking forward to reliving the thrill of experiencing Chaney’s demonic powers, even though there’s nowhere to hide in the basement of the Bar Harbor Library.
The Penalty was filmed during the Silent Screen era. To assist Carpenter, Ben Model, who is silent films accompanist for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has composed a musical score that recorded for this viewing.
The DVD will feature Model’s score on a theater organ, a piece of music designed to both intensify the drama on the screen and to recreate the mood of a movie house in the 1920s. Movie fans will enjoy Chaney at the top of his form, but The Movie Man advises that the film may be too frightening for grade school youth.