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The Phantom of the Opera

USA 1989
produced by
Menahem Golan, Harry Alan Towers for 21st Century, Breton Film Productions
directed by Dwight H. Little
starring Robert Englund, Jill Schoelen, Alex Hyde-White, Bill Nighy, Stephanie Lawrence, Terence Harvey, Nathan Lewis, Peter Clapham, Molly Shannon Emma Rawson, Mark Ryan, Yehuda Efroni, Terence Beesley, Ray Jewers, Robin Hunter, Virginia Fiol, Cathy Murphy, Andre Thornton Grimes, Jaclyn Mendoza, John Ghavan, Mickey Epps, László Szili, Patrick Burke, Jonathan Linsley, Tommy Wright, László Baranyi, Otilia Borbáth, Lajos Dobák
screenplay by Duke Sandefur, Gerry O'Hara, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, music by Misha Segal, tunes from the opera Faust by Charles Bornstein, special makeup effects by Kevin Yagher, Magical Media Industries

Phantom of the Opera

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Present day New York: Aspiring opera singer Christine (Jill Schoelen) finds an outstanding composition by forgotten composer Destler (Robert Englund) and sings it for her audition - where she positively stuns everybody - but is hit by some lighting equipment and knocked out ... and for some reason she is transported back to London 1881, where she is also an aspiring opera singer who has landed a small role in the London Opera's latest production of an opera by Destler, but she has a mysterious mentor who wants her to play the lead - and the mentor is of course Destler himself, who has struck a deal with the devil to make him and his music immortal, but at the price of a horribly disfigured face. And Destler will stop at nothing to get Christine the lead part in his opera, even if that means killing people like diva La Carlotta (Stephanie Lawrence), a critic who was unkind to Christine, and a stagehand who almost killed her in an accident.

Soon enough, Inspector Hawkins (Terence Harvey) and Richard (Alex Hyde-White), co-owner of the opera and Christine's boyfriend, are hot on the trail of Destler, but by that time he has already abducted Christineand taken her to the catacombs beneath the opera where he tries to mold her into a diva by his design - but ultimately Hawking and Richard catch up with Destler and Christine, and after a fight, Destler meets his end in a fire.

Present day New York again: Christine wakes up and learns that she has landed the lead role in the opera. To celebrate the occasion the opera house's patron (Robert Englund) invites her to his home - but Christine recognizes him from her dream, tears off his face and kills him after a fight. Then he destroys his composition so he can never be reborn again ...

 

The film was made shortly after the premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Phantom of the Opera, obviously to cash in on that show's success - which of course doesn't say anything about the film's inherent qualities. So the question of course remains: Is it (any) good ?

Well, let me put it like that, it's not all bad, the idea with the framing story in present day New York and the main story presented as flashback with effects on the framing story is rather inspired, and the film rises the gore level significantly compared to earlier film versions of the story - on the other hand, the film follows slasher movie (something also inherent in Gaston Leroux's source novel) much closer than any earlier version, and apart from Robert Englund all lead performers are rather bland and uninteresting, the direction lacks inventiveness and personal style and the sets and costumes betray the film's (too) low budget ... so this Phantom of the Opera is certainly not the definite version of the story - but also, it could have been much worse.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD