Friday, 20th October 2017. 3:50:51pm ET
Reviews Movie Reviews Dario Argento's Phantom of the Opera
Movie: Dario Argento's Phantom of the Opera
Company: Ardustry Home Entertainment
Format: DVD
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 2/23/04

More of a retelling of the story than a rehashing of previous film/live versions, Dario Argento's Phantom of the Opera is a quaint gothic horror film starring established actor Julian Sands (of Warlock and Rose Red fame just to name a few) and Dario's daughter Asia Argento (who would later go on to co-star with Vin Diesel in the action blockbuster XXX). Sands stars as the phantom, abandoned as a baby and raised by telepathic rats in the catacombs beneath the opera house. Rather than the scarred, masked phantom we all know, this phantom exercises limited telepathic powers while the struggle between his animalistic instincts and human emotions leaves him in inner turmoil. Argento plays opposite Sands as Christine, the opera understudy with whom the phantom becomes obsessed and eventually begins an affair.

It can be said that Dario Argento often has a flair for style over substance. While this film actually does have substance, it certainly has its share of eye candy. Apparently filmed in a beautiful opera house in Budapest, the film is full of clever camera angles, interesting lighting, atmospheric visuals, and excellent period costume design. Even the rock and dirt walls and waterways of the bug and rat infested catacombs are beautifully designed and filmed. You'll also find a number of Argento's trademark stylish murder scenes that, while certainly not excessive (perhaps even a bit subdued), will probably please gore fans. Unfortunately, his visuals don't always hit their mark. In particular, there's a daydream sequence in which the phantom imagines half-men-half-rats caught in a rat trap that's unintentionally laugh-out-loud funny. There's also a considerable amount of gratuitous nudity that might turn off more conservative audiences, including a brothel scene with full nudity and a few fairly graphic sex scenes (yes, this version's probably not for the kiddies)...not to mention a somewhat disturbing scene with implied human/rat "relations" that I don't really want to elaborate on.

As for this remarkably different version of the story, it's still a classic story of forbidden love and obsession that plays off of the turmoil between the inner darkness and light of the human soul. While the story sometimes gets lost and the plot often meanders toward the ridiculous and bizarre (including an unnecessary side-plot involving a rat exterminator that was apparently thrown in for comic relief), the film's acting and atmosphere are generally quite good. Sands does a respectable job portraying the duality of the phantom, who at one moment can be found acting on territorial and/or animalistic instinct and committing violent acts of murder, but at the next moment acts upon his human nature and does something motivated by love or sympathy. Asia Argento does a remarkable job as Christine, a woman influenced by the phantom's exotic nature and telepathic powers as well as torn between two lovers representing her own inner light and darkness.

The soundtrack by classic film composer Ennio Morricone is well done and works exceptionally well in the film to both recreate the time period and add an artistic vibe similar to earlier film/live versions of the story. The sound effects are also well recorded and used, although there are a few rather bad (both sonically and visually) vocal dubs during a few scenes. As for DVD features, there's a behind-the-scenes featurette, a rather short and overly edited interview with Julian Sands, trailers, filmographies, a Fangoria article, and a photo gallery.

Fans of the original story or other musical/film versions may wish to steer clear of this radically altered, art house horror retelling of the story. However, horror fans and fans of Argento's work may be able to look past the film's flaws, plot holes, and occasional bizarre turns and enjoy a somewhat unique take on Phantom of the Opera with stylish visuals, a great soundtrack, and a nice sense of atmosphere (that is, in fact, somewhat similar to Gothic, another peculiar art house horror film starring Julian Sands). It's not exactly superb and definitely not Argento's best, but it has enough high points to make it worth checking out.


Banner
Advertisement
Banner
Advertisement
Banner
Advertisement
Banner
Advertisement

Radio Grave Concerns Ezine

Listen now!
Banner
Banner
Advertisement

Keep GC strong !

Maintaining Grave Concerns Ezine takes time and money.
To help, you can donate one time:

Or, help with a monthly gift:


Grave Concerns Ezine Grave Concerns Ezine

Who's Online

We have 146 guests online

Podcast

Podcast Feed

Free Downloads

Banner
Advertisement
Banner
Advertisement
Banner
Advertisement
Banner
Advertisement