Director Dwight H Little of ‘Halloween 4’ fame exposes us gore fans to a little bit of class and culture as he enlists Robert ‘Freddy Kruger’ Englund to sell the well-known classic tale of lust and art in one of the many (many) horror versions of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. Whilst many versions have tried dismally to epilate both the terror and glamor of the Opera with thoughtful cinematography – namely Argento’s double efforts, this version, brought in all its high definition glory by 101 films ignores all of the pretence and goes straight for the jugular (many times in fact) and gives us exactly what we want to see – a deformed maniac killing people in an opera house.
So ok… the plot is similar to the main story. There is a phantom, there is a girl called Christine, and they do get involved in a pretty weird way, but let’s be honest, much of the symbolism is dropped from the original premise. Not that it is in any way a problem, because this goes pretty much slasher mainstream on it. In this version the phantom becomes quite obsessed with the singer Christine, who in turn mistakes the phantom for an angel sent to help guide her singing career. A few people wrong her in some way, either by accident or by insulting her performance, and the phantom sees to it that they are brutally punished for their actions. Once she realises what is really going on there is no backing out and she must look to others to bail her out of the shit. Whilst there is a framing story which bookends the feature – this one is set in modern time – much of the action takes place in period time, but rather than explain I will leave you enjoy these plot developments.
With the main story thinned out from the original what remains is something of a watered down version with some fairly questionable plot diversions which will only matter to you if you are an avid ‘Phantom of the Opera’ series fan. Whist I agree with many of my fellow reviewers some of the plot ‘twists’ are a little contrived I was relieved to see that the nuance and atmosphere remained. The settings in old Victorian London really benefit and the sets are well dressed with vibrant colours and plenty of mood lighting. This meant that whilst it was going for blatant excuse for gore, you never lost the overall feel of the franchise.
In all honesty the promotion for this movie was quite unashamed of its less than cultured slasher approach, even the box says that this is a ‘gory’ version of the classic tale, so no worries about comparisons with the original in my opinion anyway.
Thankfully where the plot might be slightly fraudulent, this movie is true to its words in the violence department this is one hell of a gory movie. Englund lavishes the opportunity to actually act, or at least to enunciate a little, but most of all he shows us once again why he is one of the top slashers ever! The gore is frequent, pretty much everyone who dies in the movie gets dispatched in a deliciously gratuitous manner from being knifed to skinned. The effects look really good and there are no annoying camera cuts. Think the censors must have been all edited out by 1989. This has quite a reasonable body count and someone thought about pacing as it is never too long between each death which really helped the movie.
Overall this is 80s slasher - Phantom style. Whilst I enjoyed Argento’s ‘Opera’, I must say that this one comes well recommended too. Sure it is in no way ‘classy’, but then it doesn’t try to be. No, this is just another 80s slasher movie, and all the better for it. It is gruesome, quick paced and overacted. The Blu-ray quality is pretty good, and 101 films once again give us a movie we all love(d) and an excuse to buy it again!