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Phantom of the Opera (1998)

Cast: Julian Sands, Asia Argento, Andrea Di Stefano, more...
Director: Dario Argento
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Ardustry Home Entertainment
Genre: Horror, Italian Horror
Running Time: 100 min.
Subtitles: Spanish
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In keeping with the his cult reputation, Italian filmmaker Dario Argento's take on Gaston Leroux's enduring Gothic tale of terror and obsession features plenty of sex and graphic, high-tech gore (although hard-core Argento purists may find the splatter scenes rather sparse). Unlike other renditions of the illustrious Phantom, Argento's version suffers no facial disfigurement and therefore remains unmasked. His creepiness, shown in the early parts of the story, comes from having been abandoned as a baby and raised by rats in the labyrinthine catacombs beneath the Paris Opera. Unaccustomed to humankind, the Phantom (Julian Sands) spends his days in the darkness playing an organ, murdering intruders, saving his rodent family members from the theater's exterminator and occasionally wandering about the opera house. His life changes when he falls in love with beautiful young singer Christine (Asia Argento), understudy to temperamental zaftig diva Carlotta (Nadia Rinaldi). Desperate to have her, the Phantom plays a haunting melody and lures her into the bowels of the great theater. There he will begin a macabre courtship destined to end in tragedy. Those who enjoy finding continuity mistakes will be delighted to discover that while the story is set in 1877, the theater is lighted with electricity, something that did not happen in real life until 1888. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Trust Dario Argento to find the Phantom sexy by ESullivan February 23, 2006 - 5:53 AM PST
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
It's easy to picture someone disliking this film: absurd, cheesy eary CG effects, gobs of sex & violence smeared on the screen so thick you have to wipe it out of your eyes in between scenes.

What saves it all is that this film is about something, which is more than I can say for any previous version of this story. Here, Argento finally taps into what other artists have not: the guts of the story. This film has an atmosphere you not only see on the screen but sticks in your throat like strange wine. While the film is a bit choppy in the storytelling, I could see a few connect-the-dots suggestions of themes that displayed remarkable amounts of thought behind them, and rare quantities of emotional investment. As a journey into the dark side of human nature - the magnetism towards sin especially - it's quite fascinating.

And then we get a scene where the Phantom has a little mini-orgy with his rats...

The negative: occasional phoniness and a phoned-in Julian Sands performance. I'm not a big fan of his, and I often wished he had been wearing a mask.

The positive: Asia Argento. Besides being sinfully beautiful, she can act circles around all American actresses in her age group that I can think of. Portman? Check. Johansson? Double check. Consistantly strong cinematography and a very pleasing Ennio Morricone score help round out the pleasure.


GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 4.32)
38 Votes
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Dark Wave
SF Horror Festival, 1999-2002, R.I.P. (appears to have moved to LA Film fest in 2004)

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