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Il Fantasma dell'Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

Italy 1998
produced by
Giuseppe Colombo, Aron Sipos, Claudio Argento (executive) for Medusa Produzione, Reteitalia
directed by Dario Argento
starring Julian Sands, Asia Argento, Andrea Di Stefano, Nadia Rinaldi, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, István Bubik, Lucia Guzzardi, Aldo Massasso, Zoltan Barabas, Gianni Franco, David D'Ingeo, Kitty Kéri, John Pedeferri, Leonardo Treviglio, Massimo Sarchielli, Luis Molteni, Enzo Cardogna, Itala Békés, Claudia Kemones, Csilla Ward, Reka Pozsgay, Ferenc Deák B., Rozso Ludvigh, David Drucker, Gábor Harsai, Balázs Tardy, SAndor Bse, Iván Dengyel, György Szakaly, Ferenc Ratkai, Podporina Ilona, Frigyes Hallósi, Istvan Szöczey, Szabo Bente Robert, Zoltán Rajkai, Tania Nagel, Rodrigo Crespo, Zsolt Anger, Zsolt Derecskei, Tibor Nemes, Lásló Pethö, Deniel Zdroa, Bela Nemeth
screenplay by Gérard Brach, Dario Argento, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, music by Ennio Morricone, special effects by Sergio Stivaletti

Phantom of the Opera

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In this version of the well-known story, the Phantom was abandoned by his parents as a baby, but adopted by rats who brought the little boy up in the catacombs right beneath the Paris Opera. Now the Phantom's a man (and played by Julian Sands), and he roams the opera-house, killing many a man who have wronged his folks, the rats. Then however, young singer Christine (Asia Argento) catches his attention, and he starts wooing her and communicating with her telepathically.

Christine though is a mere understudy, and the diva of the current production, Carlotta (Nadia Rinaldi) sees to it that the poor girl never gets a chance to prove her talent ... so small accidents start to happen until
Carlotta has to miss a show and Christine is called in for rehearsal ... but she's so nervous that she faints.

The Phantom takes Christine to his underground hideout, which is beyond an underground lake, and their romance blossoms, and soon enough they have sex. The Phantom though has not yet given up his plans to make Christine the star she deserves to be, so at one point, during one of Carlotta's performances, he even has a chandelier crashing onto the stage, and he sees to it that Carlotta is met with a little accident ...

Christine however is far from grateful, she despises him for his barbaric actions, and she ultimately leaves him, but when she's back at the opera she learns that she is already set to take over from Carlotta - and she meets Baron De Chagny (Andrea Di Stefano), who confesses his undying love to her ... and she gives in to his advances on the condition that he saves her from the Phantom.

Christine's debut as a diva though turns into chaos when a beggar identifies her as the Phantom's bride - on stage - and the Phantom snatches her right from the stage to take her back with him, followed by an angry mob, and even the police. Only Baron De Chagny though is able to catch up with the Phantom and Christine, and when she sees the two men fighting over her, she finds herself torn between them ... until the Phantom gives her up in order to save her, and while Christine and the Baron row off in the Phantom's boat, the Phantom himself is killed by an angry mob ...

 

In a way, Gaston Leroux's novel Phantom of the Opera is one of the oldest and the key sources of serial killer cinema, especially the giallo (the distinctively Italian version of serial killer cinema) and the slasher movie - and since Dario Argento was/is one of the key figures of giallo and had a great influence on slasher cinema, it seems only logical that he would eventually adapt the novel. The outcome however is less than satisfying, a diffuse mixture of period piece, romance and fantasy, with a few shocks thrown in but completely devoid of the director's personal style, with Leroux's classic, straightforward source material twisted and turned around until it has become something qutie ridiculous.

A total disappointment actually, which is a double surprise, because in 1989, Argento made another film, the underrated Opera, that, while not being an official adaptation of Phantom of the Opera, stays much closer to the novel and is much more effective. The best thing one can say about Argento's Phantom of the Opera on the other hand is that Asia Argento (the director's daughter) is pretty good in the lead role of the diva torn between two lovers - but not even she can save this mess.

 

PS: I might have to stress that normally I'm a huge fan of Dario Argento, only with this film he has completely let me down.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
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
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
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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