Dario Argento’s Phantom of the Opera
$34.98 (as of January 23, 2018, 5:09 pm)
A menacing catacomb dweller, raised by rats beneath the Paris Opera, is smitten with an understudy.
Leaden horror costumer that takes its tenuous starting point from the classic Gaston Leroux novel of the same name. The twist in this variation is that the Phantom was raised by telepathic rats in the subterranean caverns beneath the opera house. Thus our feral Phantom (Julian “Ratboy” Sands) develops an obsessive love for up-and-coming diva Christine (Asia Argento), and sets about to seduce her to his dark, rodent existence. Although beautifully photographed, with lots of ornate period detail to catch the eye, this is largely a by-the-numbers supernatural horror story with scant gory set pieces as diversions. Fans of Dario Argento will yell “Rats!” and all else will merely shrug. And why are the rats telepathic, anyway? Screenwriting credits go to Gerard Brach, best known for his many collaborations with Roman Polanski, most notably Repulsion. However, none of his absurd sense of humor comes through in this film, which really needs it. A shame all around. The DVD includes a short interview with the film’s star, Julian Sands, as well as a photo gallery, some dispensable making-of clips, spliced together to appear as a featurette (mostly in untranslated Italian) and a very informative article from Fangoria Magazine. –Jim Gay