Blu-ray Release: The Penalty

Blu-ray Release Date: Oct. 23, 2012
Price: Blu-ray $34.95
Studio: Kino Lorber

The Penalty movie scene

Lon Chaney stumps for revenge in 1920's The Penalty.

In a role that established him as one of the most dynamically terrifying performers of the silent screen, Lon Chaney stars in the fiendish 1920 silent film The Penalty, a grotesque thriller from director Wallace Worsley (The Hunchback of Notre Dame).

When an incompetent doctor amputates the legs of a young boy, he has no idea that the youth will grow up to be the immoral and embittered Blizzard, a criminal mastermind who orchestrates a bizarre and heinous plot to avenge himself upon his malefactor. His plan involves befriending the surgeon’s daughter (Ethel Grey Terry) and serves as an artist’s model for her sculptural rendition of Satan, waiting for just the right moment to unleash his demonic desires.

In playing the devious Blizzard, Chaney tightly harnessed his legs within a pair of leather stumps, flawlessly rendering the physical disfigurement that so profoundly echoes the misshapen mind that drives this sadistic character toward his violent destiny. As Chaney biographer Michael Blake says, “One has to wonder if the intensity Lon brought to this role might have been due in part to the pain produced by his harness.”

Kino released a DVD edition of the film back in 2001.

Features on the Blu-ray, the bulk of which appeared on the DVD, include the following:

  • Mastered in HD from a 35mm restoration by the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department
  • New musical score by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, in 2.0 Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Video tour of Chaney’s actual makeup case and “double amputee” costume from The Penalty
  • Surviving footage of Chaney’s The Miracle Man
  • Original theatrical trailer from Chaney’s The Big City and While The City Sleeps
  • Chaney’s 1914 one-reel Western By the Sun’s Rays


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.