aka Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom Of The Opera, Phantom Of The Opera – The Motion Picture
93 min., 1989
Written by Duke Sandefur
Directed by Dwight H. Little
My rating: ★★★★★
A great overlooked movie.
* * *
Christine Day (Jill Schoelen) is looking for the perfect song to use in an upcoming audition and with the help of her friend Meg (Molly Shannon) they find one called Don Juan Triumphant that was written by Erik Destler (Robert Englund). At the audition a sandbag rope breaks and almost hits Christine causing her to pass out. We are then transported to the past where the past Christine (still played by Jill Schoelen) has just gone through the same thing. A stagehand blames it on The Phantom who then comes calling and kills him. The performance that they are practicing is Faust, which is starring Carlotta (Stephanie Lawrence) who is a real bitch, but she brings in the crowd so owner Martin Barton (Bill Nighy) is willing to put up with her. The Phantom (Robert Englund) appears again and is going to make sure that Christine is going to get the lead for tonight. Christine performs and makes a big impression, just not to the right people. The Phantom decides to make sure that the ones that are displeased won’t be saying anything for long. Christine’s lover Richard (Alex Hyde-White) is concerned that she is in danger and with the help of Inspector Hawkins (Terence Harvey) they start to find out more about the Phantom.
It’s not surprising that Robert Englund is really good in his performance of The Phantom, but it’s amazing how he isn’t just acting the role, but he seems to really live the part. Every time you see him around Christine, or when she’s singing, you get the feel that he is truly in love with her, and her singing. The one scene where he is in box five it looks like he’s about to have an orgasm as he listens to her sing. On the other side is the question about his accent. Does he have one and if he does why does it seem to come and go? It’s a problem, but nothing that can’t be ignored or forgotten about because he is that engaging. We then have Jill Schoelen as Christine and man is she great. Now I don’t know if she is actually singing in the movie (I do know that she is a singer, but I don’t know if she can do opera) but she knows how to make it look like she is. There are a lot of movies were people are “singing” but you can tell that they are just lip-synching. I know that she is lip-synching, but it doesn’t look like she is because she is perfectly lined up with the singing. Just beautiful (yes her, not just the music). The rest of the cast pulls in great performances as well, making all the characters believable, and I really did enjoy Stephanie Lawrence’s performance of Carlotta.
The effects are actually great in the movie. When The Phantom is sewing skin onto his face it’s done so well, and the makeup used on Robert Englund is so good that it takes a few scenes before you realize that it is actually him and not someone else. Then it isn’t until he speaks that it’s really given away. The killing scenes are done with a nice touch of not seeing everything. There is enough to get what’s going on, but nothing is really shoved in your face. But when they show you everything it’s really quite convincing and that’s kind of amazing considering how other movies from the same year haven’t held up so well.
Another thing about the movie that was really great was the use of the camera. The scene where The Phantom is following the stagehand in the beginning and the camera is overhead and shooting through the grate is really cool. There are other scenes where the camera swoops between people, which helps to create a good amount of confusion, especially considering the fact that they just found a severed head. The overall good use of the camera makes the film that much more entertaining.
Overall this movie is really great. Now I am a fan of the other takes (not all of them, but most) on The Phantom Of The Opera, but this one is one of my favorites. Not just because of Robert Englund and Jill Schoelen, but everything about the movie is just great. The effects stand up well and the use of music isn’t so overpowering (that is unless it’s supposed to be), unlike a lot of movies that have come and gone, that you feel the director is yelling at you what emotion to feel. The music just fits perfectly in place. This is a gem of a horror movie that has been overlooked for too long. Why has it been ignored? I really don’t know. If you have a chance, this one is worth the watch.Have You Read...?