Stars: Robert Englund, Jill Schoelen, Alex Hyde-White, Bill Nighy, Stephanie Lawrence
Runtime: 141 minutes
Trading tragic romance for Faustian malevolence, the 1989 version of The Phantom of the Opera is a surprisingly good example of '80s horror. It was dismissed as gory trash by most critics (no doubt because Kevin Yagher's gruesome makeup effects are effectively revolting), but horror buffs will be more forgiving of this lush production, which ranks well above average for horror films of its time. Set in Victorian London and shot mostly in Budapest, Hungary (for period architecture), the film reunites director Dwight Little (Halloween 4) with "Freddie Krueger" himself, Robert Englund, who had worked together on the Nightmare on Elm Street-based TV series Freddie's Nightmares. It's a good pairing, as Englund does some of his finest work as the Phantom, seen here as a horribly disfigured composer who patches his scarred and mangled face with stitched-on flesh, and makes a deal with the devil to be immortalized through his music. His muse, as always, is the lovely diva-to-be Christine, and the casting of Jill Schoelen gives the film added cachet among genre fans (who will recognize her from the 1987 cult hit The Stepfather). While bearing little resemblance to Lon Chaney's 1925 classic, this Phantom is actually more loyal to Gaston Leroux's original novel, and therefore deserves as much acknowledgement as any other version of the story. Certainly not a classic, but well worth a look. --Jeff Shannon
Lot 666, then: a chandelier in pieces. Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera: a mystery never fully explained. We are told ladies and gentlemen, that this is the very chandelier which figures in the famous disaster. Our workshops have restored it and fitted up parts of it with wiring for the new electric light, so that we may get a hint of what it may look like when re-assembled. Perhaps we may frighten away the ghost of so many years ago with a little illumination, gentlemen?
This fate which condemns me to wallow in blood has also denied me the joys of the flesh this face-the infection which poisons our love. This face which earned a mother's fear and loathing, a mask my first unfeeling scrap of clothing. Pity comes too late, turn around and face your fate, an eternity of THIS before your eyes!
Past the point of no return - no going back now. Our passion play has now at last begun. Past all thought of right or wrong. One final question; how long should we two wait, before we're one? When will the blood begin to race? The sleeping bud burst into bloom? When will the flames, at last, consume us?
Twisted every way, what answer can I give? Am I to risk my life to win the chance to live? Can I betray the man who once inspired my voice? Do I become his prey? Do I have any choice? He kills without a thought, he murders all that's good. I know I can't refuse, and yet, I wish I could. Oh God, if I agree what horrors wait for me, in this, the phantom's opera?