Although seen historically as one of the great, old monster movies from the silent era, this is not a horror movie. This is much more of a drama and a romance that features elements of horror within it.
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, 'Hunchback' tells the story of a deaf, half-blind hunchback named Quasimodo (Lon Chaney), seen by the residents of Paris as nothing more than a freak who resides in the bell tower of Notre Dame Cathedral. Owned by Jehan (Brandon Hurst), the evil brother of archdeacon Dom Claude (Nigel De Brulier).
One night, Jehan makes the suggestion of kidnapping a dancing gypsy girl named Esmeralda (Patsy Ruth Miller) to Quasimodo. She is the adopted daughter of Clopin (Ernest Torrence), king of Paris' underworld. Enter Captain Phoebus (Norman Kerry) who ends up saving the day, and quickly becoming Esmeralda's love interest. Much of the film is about the triangle between the jealous Jehan, the dashing Phoebus and the beautiful Esmeralda, while Quasimodo plays that guy who eventually does the right thing. Those who have seen the Disney movie pretty much know how things end, except in this version, there's the addition of a certain death.
Honestly, 'Hunchback' was never really my favorite story. It just seemed like a solid classic title to go with for this particular list. I was never a fan of how things ended, as Quasimodo kinda gets left in the dust for being a good soul. But I suppose there is a sort of "that's life" lesson behind this story as well. Anyway, this isn't much of an exception. But there were things I still appreciated from this as far as the filming, itself.
I was pleased to see that things like bits of comedy were added to this, and things were kinda light-hearted throughout. Add to that the soundtrack, which thank the good lord isn't just a pipe organ (one of my criticisms for 'Jekyll and Hyde' - though it worked for 'Nosferatu'). This soundtrack sounds better than anything I've seen on the list so far, at least as far as simple music goes. ('Caligari' wins the prize for atmosphere).
This is one of those titles that's just kinda "there" to me, for the most part. Although I have to appreciate that this was the first time watching these old films that I really felt for a character involved. Quasimodo lives a life of ridicule and unfairness. although in the beginning we see him pretty much hating the public, he does turn out to be a very good guy, and doesn't get anything much for it. He ends up being a convenience more than a person, and that's pretty heartbreaking altogether.
So, while it's perhaps not the best title for a Halloween horror list, it's still probably something to check out for yourself. Lon Chaney is quite enjoyable in his role, the music is nice, and it's pretty clear filming for the silent era. It's still pretty well worth the watch at some point. It's another title with different versions, as well. So if Disney suits you, that works too.