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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Phantom Of The Opera (Argento)

Phantom of the Opera  (Argento)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Film: C-



I am not so sure it’s fair to say that this is a remake of the original Gaston Leroux classic story, or if it is more of a gory revision.  The storyline is essentially the same, only instead of the phantom figure being a gross and disfigured man; he has been raised by rats located in the sewer beneath the Opera house in Paris.  Sounds almost like an episode of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, only with more blood.  His reason for employing violence is to those who try to harm his rats.  Watch out master Splinter!


Directed by Italian horror maestro Dario Argento, Phantom of the Opera comes off with only some of his signature stylistic trademarks, but yields very little suspense or mystery, just plain gore.  This is perhaps the films biggest downfall, and the fact that is veers away from the original story and tries to be something of its own.   Some may even say that this is not even a ‘real’ Argento film since it has more Hollywood-like features. 


Well if the story is weak, then we must rely on the actors to do some justice.  In this case we have Julian Sands and Argento’s own beautiful daughter Asia.  They work well, Sands coming from his background with Warlock (1989) and Tale of a Vampire (1992) he is not altogether new to the genre.  As an actor Sands mixes between TV and film a lot, plus he goes back and forth between higher-class productions such as A Room With a View (1985) then onto more B-grade material.  Asia Argento was relatively unknown at the time of Phantom of the Opera’s 1998 release, but has gained more International and American acclaim since; appearing in films like XXX with Vin Diesel. 


Coming to life on DVD from A-Pix Entertainment, Phantom of the Opera is similar in some ways to other of Argento’s DVD releases.  A lot of Argento’s catalog resides with Anchor Bay, but not the case here.  This only indicates to us further that this film is not like his others.  Presented in an anamorphic 1.85 X 1 transfer, the film looks pleasing, but far from reference quality.  In fact some of the film looks more like a TV production, which is due to the use of Panaflex Cameras with Panavision lenses.  Add this with the block-style incorporated by Argento and Cinematographer Ronny Taylor (mostly a background in TV with exception of The Who’s Tommy) and you can understand why this film looks more like a made for TV deal. 


We are also given a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, which is suitable as well.  Although it does not back the wallop of Argento’s 1977 film Suspiria, which contains a DTS-ES Discrete soundtrack to truly show off the films sound and soundtrack.  Phantom does not come close, but still gives us all the approximations with its surround mix; dialogue in the front, directional effects spread towards the sides or back.  You get the idea, but it clearly does not push the envelope of sound design. 


There are even a few extras thrown together here to classify this as a near special edition.  A behind-the-scenes look at the film, interview with Julian Sands, and a photo gallery make the entire package complete.  With this being such an average film, and even a below average for Argento, we cannot expect too much from this DVD release.  A decent transfer, adequate sound mix, and some extras are probably more than we could have imagined.



-   Nate Goss


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