The Phantom of the Opera (1989) Movie Review
Written by: ML
Edited by: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Dwight H. Little
Producers: Menahem Golan, Harry Alan Towers
Writers: Gerry O’Hara, Duke Sandefur
Date Released: November 3, 1989
Robert Englund as Erik Destler, The Phantom/Mr. Foster
Jill Schoelen as Christine Day
Alex Hyde-White as Richard Dutton
Bill Nighy as Martin Barton
Stephanie Lawrence as La Carlotta
Molly Shannon as Meg (New York)
Emma Rawson as Meg (London)
Terence Harvey as Inspector Hawkins
Nathan Lewis as Davies
Peter Clapham as Harrison
Yehuda Efroni as The Rat Catcher
Terence Beesley as Joseph Buquet
Rating = 3/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
The story is about a composer who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for people to love his music. The wish was granted but he was given facial deformities to prove that his music will be the only thing that people will love. He became the legendary Phantom of the Opera and fell in love with a beautiful opera singer. In exchange for giving her a good career and to lure her to be his bride, the Phantom kills everyone who got in his way.
There were a lot of blood and gore in this version of the Phantom of the Opera. The best part is when the camera was zoomed in on the Phantom’s face as he is sewing his skin together. To complement this scene, there was a part where he removed his hair, teeth, ears, skin, and silicon nose to reveal that he is skinless. The monstrosity was established as well as his way of killing which was seen in Carlotta’s closet, a man skinned alive. Carlotta’s head in the soup was also a good scene, among others.
The Grave Review
This movie was a shockingly good adaptation of the famous novel by Gaston Leroux starring Robert Englund. A unique feature of this movie is how they were able to insert the modern times into a rather old story.
Compared to the theater productions and other movie versions, the best thing about this rendition of The Phantom of the Opera is the fact that it was not a musical and it focused more on the horror of the story itself. Other versions were more about the music and love story. This one was nightmarish and lived to the idea of a phantom. There were no musical numbers, interpretative dances, or any singsong conversation. It is just plain horror.
Aside from the transition of past and present memories through the shattered mirror, another nice thing was the insertion of flashbacks which made it easier to understand why the Phantom became a serial killer. Also, Christine ending up with no love interest by the end of the movie is something new compared to the other versions.
The only problem with this version is that since Robert Englund is popularly known as Freddy Krueger, his character as Phantom made it look like a half-baked Freddy. Even the official poster of the movie capitalizes Englund as Freddy. In any case, audiences might notice some resemblance in terms of acting and the prosthetics used on the face since both characters were killers with facial deformities.
The ending redeemed the dragging and almost never-ending dungeon chase in the sense that it took the movie full circle when the Phantom appeared in the modern world as a handsome opera producer. The movie started with the music sheet of Don Juan Triumphant and it ended with it too.
Overall, The Phantom of the Opera (1989) is recommended if you want to see a different take on the hit musical.
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