The Phantom of the Opera


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Rating: R

Robert Englund as Eric Destler/The Phantom
Jill Schoelen as Christine Day
Alex Hyde-White as Richard Dutton
Bill Nighy as Barton
Stephanie Lawrence as Carlotta
Terence Harvey as Insp. Hawkins
Nathan Lewis as Davies
Peter Clapham as Harrison
Molly Shannon as Meg (New York)
Emma Rawson as Meg (London)
Mark Ryan as Mott
Yehuda Efroni as The Rat Catcher
Terence Beesley as Joseph Buquet
Ray Jewers as Elise
Robin Hunter as Roland

Special Features:
Original Theatrical Trailer

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital Stereo Sound
English, French, and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

This film was originally released in 1989. The following is the official description of the DVD:

“In this house of music, evil strikes the final chord. Horror legend Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) assumes the classic role of the Phantomiin this shocking, nerve-jangling retelling of Gaston Leroux’s timeless tale of music, madness and murder!

An aspiring opera singer finds herself transported back to Victoria-era London – and into the arms of a reclusive, disfigured maestro determined to make her a star. The silver-throated Christine (Jill Schoulen) enjoys success through the arrangements of her new lover (Englund)…until she realizes that he has been committing unspeakably grisly murders in her honor and won’t stop until he’s completed his masterpiece…in blood!”

This DVD is rated R.

The Movie:
Simply put, this movie wasn’t very good. I haven’t seen the stage play of Phantom and I haven’t seen the original movie in quite some time, so I can’t compare this version to them. But I can definitively say that this version of it just isn’t good. The story is boring, the acting is mediocre, and the characters lack personality. However, the biggest downfall of the film is the gore that has been added to the tale. People are skinned alive, killed in disgusting fashions, and there are long lingering shots of the Phantom stitching skin to his bloody face. It’s just gross for the sake of being gross. The final scene pretty much sums up the entire film. We see our heroine Christine literally ripping the face off of the Phantom, then stabbing him in the chest. Somehow I don’t think that was in the original story.

Another addition for the film was a time travel aspect. Like in Somewhere In Time, Christine magically finds herself transported into the past. That’s all fine if it has some impact on the story, but it doesn’t. Christine goes about her business as if she has always been living in the past. It’s odd. Another addition is that the Phantom seems to have magical powers. He makes things move around, he seems to zip about with super-speed, and he’s immortal. Again, I think the older version where he was just a crazy guy living in the opera house was a better concept.

As already mentioned, the acting is mediocre. Robert Englund handles the makeup well as Eric Destler/The Phantom, but he lacks to charm or personality to really bring the Phantom to life. Jill Schoelen is pretty as Christine Day, but she, too, lacks the spark that makes you understand why the Phantom is infatuated with her. She also must lip sync to the opera lyrics and it’s quite obvious. None of the other cast is memorable except for a brief role by SNL alumnis Molly Shannon. It was the last place I expected to see the comedienne.

On the bright side, the sets for this film are first rate. The costumes and backdrops are all appropriately beautiful and/or scary. The opera music is also decent though it does at times drag on. Opera isn’t really my thing.

The Extras:
There are no extras included on this DVD besides the original theatrical trailer.

The Bottom Line:
I would only recommend this movie to Robert Englund fans. People wanting to see The Phantom of the Opera are probably better off sticking to other incarnations of the story.