The Phantom of the Opera
A newer and gorier version of the horror film classic of Gaston Leroux's classic tale.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Kind of a ridiculous (and now very dated) retelling of the classic story that bears little resemblance to the source material. One gets the impression the writer just watched the Lloyd-Webber musical and penned a typically 80s supernatural slasher around it but it's still kind of fun, there are some crazy gore FX (including the ol' head in a punchbowl classic gag) and Englund is good value. The scenes set in the present day are the most gleefully deranged and it's a shame they didn't have the balls to play it all modern stylee (the computer loading the "Don Juan Triumphant Run Sequence" is a hint at what we could've won) but it's still a perfectly watchable time-waster.
This is probably my second favourite Phantom adaptation, after the Universal one. Forget the tragically romantic Webber version, give me a brutal Phantom and a Christine burning with talent and ambition who's not afraid to step on some toes to get what she wants.
This doesn't quite deliver, but Englund's Erik is sadistic, cruel, and extremely violent, and Christine, well, ripping off his skin mask and running off with his manuscript won her some points in my book.
The weird Faustian bargain/time-travelling thread doesn't really come off, and there's some real silliness to this movie, but it's spirited and, despite being cheap by 80s standards, actually looks pretty awesome to tired modern eyes.
No matter how much I like Englund, he just doesn't have the gravitas to hold this movie together. And at the center of this you need someone more like his idols to do this. There are some nice bits of art direction here but the camerawork is very blah. The story throws a lot of extra stuff into the mix which never adds to much. A Phantom movie with a bit of Faust and Jack The Ripper in it sounds great but this isn't it. For that concoction to work, it would require some more perverse that what is here. It plays it safe when it should be way more nuts. Not like Argento's infamous stab at this material, though. This mesh of elements does not seem to be easy to pull off. More for fans Robert Englund than anyone else.