Monster mash 

The Phantom of the Opera
7:30 p.m. Thursday

Lon Chaney’s name is forever associated with 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera, and for good reason: It’s one of the great performances in silent films. I don’t care how old you are or how many times you’ve seen it: When Christine (Mary Philbin) unmasks the Phantom 38 minutes in, you get goose bumps. The look on Chaney’s face — heavy makeup and all — is one that imprints on your brain for life. —RL


Frankenstein

5:30 p.m. Friday

Similarly, James Whale’s Frankenstein carries a number of shiver-worthy scenes, whether for 1931 or 2013. Chief among them — and one of a trio of once-censored bits — is when the Monster (Boris Karloff, in a performance short on speech) innocently hurls a little girl into a pond and to her doom, and yet, still has audience members’ sympathy. Many see the sequel as the superior work, but I stick with the towering, unforgettable original. —RL


The Bride of Frankenstein
8 p.m. Friday

Whale’s 1935 sequel to Frankenstein is an irresistibly strange masterpiece, wedding wicked humor with genuine thrills. Karloff returns as the big, misunderstood lug, while Elsa Lanchester portrays both Frankenstein author Mary Shelley and the titular character who plays too hard to get for her own good. Best of all is Ernest Thesiger as Dr. Pretorious, one of the maddest mad scientists in film history. —PB


It Came from Outer Space

12:30 p.m. Saturday

It Came from Outer Space chiefly has the distinction of being the first sci-fi flick directed by B-movie maestro Jack Arnold (see Creature from the Black Lagoon below). Richard Carlson plays an amateur astronomer who knows a spaceship crash-landed in the Arizona desert and that the aliens it carried are up to no good, but darn it, no one in town believes him. The 1953 film is no classic, but it served as the blueprint for scores of flying-saucer flicks that followed. —PB


The Invisible Man
5:30 p.m. Saturday

In 1933, between the pair of Frankenstein pictures, Whale tackled another tale of weird science by adapting H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, injected with a streak of good humor. As the title abomination, Claude Rains has one hell of a role — a real challenge considering his face goes almost unseen. Today’s CGI makes invisibility a cinch, but these groundbreaking effects stand out even now as truly special. —RL


Dracula

8 p.m.
Saturday

Tod Browning’s Dracula may have been a mammoth hit in its day, and its influence on popular
culture is undeniable, but the 1931 is as creaky as its star’s Hungarian
accent is thick. The movie has aged only slightly better than Bela
Lugosi, who became a sensation as the seductive vampire before being
typecast into misery. Rich in Gothic ambience, Dracula is watchable, but time has drained its power. —RL


Creature from the Black Lagoon
3 p.m. Sunday

Admittedly, the half-man, half-amphibian of 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon isn’t
too scary by today’s standards — unless seafood and guys in rubber
suits give you the heebie-jeebies — but this Jack Arnold-helmed
horror/sci-fi mesh is a lotta fun. An expedition in the Amazon jungle
stumbles across the gill man, with all hell subsequently breaking loose.
We can’t think of better Sunday viewing. —PB

Hey! Read This:
Dracula: The Vampire and the Voivode DVD review
Frankenstein (1992) DVD review
Frankenstein: A Cultural History book review
The Frankenstein Theory DVD review
• Lon Chaney Jr. retrospective
Mad Monster Party? Blu-ray review
Monster Brawl Blu-ray review
The Mummy: Special Edition DVD review
Old Dracula DVD review
The Phantom of the Opera (1925) Blu-ray review   
Vampires, Mummies & Monsters
DVD review

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