Review: The Phantom of the Monastery
Blu-ray: The Phantom of the Monastery (1934)
A group of hikers get lost and take shelter in a monastery, which unbeknown to them is haunted, but doors sealed shut by large wooden crucifixes, strange and unsettling shadows playing on the walls, and a cellar filled with coffins, soon enlighten them to the fact that all is not as first seemed.
Very “Twilight Zone” in the way the narrative plays out, it does however strongly keep its Mexican identity which puts it apart from Hollywood horror of the time.
Dripping with atmosphere, the location shooting not only added to the production value of the movie, but also helped to sell the unsettling events that play out there, be it a monk silently walking through the cold and claustrophobic monastery corridors, or a bat’s shadow mysteriously appearing on the crumbling walls.
Stephen Jones and Kim Newman contribute another fascinating commentary track, but once again it is Abraham Castillo Flores who had me glued to the screen with his insights into Mexican genre movies…more of this guy please!
Both this and the aforementioned La Llorona make for a great double bill of early examples of Mexican horror. Turn off the lights and enjoy.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:
- New 4K restoration from the original negative by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in collaboration with the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project
- Original mono audio
- Audio commentary with genre-film experts, critics and authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman (2022)
- The Devil in the Detail (2022, 18 mins): Abraham Castillo Flores, head programmer of Mexico’s Mórbido Film Fest, considers the impact of this early horror classic
- Optional English translation subtitles
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Maricruz Castro-Ricalde, screenwriter Juan Bustillo Oro on the making of The Phantom of the Monastery, an archival production report, a look at the film’s original promotion, an overview of contemporary critical responses, Jan-Christopher Horak of the UCLA Film & Television Archive on the restoration, and film credits
- World premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 4,000 copies for the UK and US
Review by Dave from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.