The March/April 85th anniversary issue of Weird Tales features our big list of “The 85 Weirdest Storytellers of the Past 85 Years.” We’re breaking it down online, too: one honoree per day, in no particular order, for 85 days!
LON CHANEY SR. (1883–1930) wasn’t merely a great actor; he was the first person in Hollywood to truly understand the emotional force that could be wrought by enhancing a human performance — his own — with weird visual tricks. The “Man of a Thousand Faces” almost singlehandedly invented effects make-up; as the Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Phantom of the Opera, he made monsters sympathetic. Ray Bradbury said it best: “He . . . acted out our psyches. He somehow got into the shadows inside our bodies; he was able to nail down some of our secret fears and put them on-screen.”