The Phantom of the Opera (Dario Argento, 1998)

Il fantasma dell’opera / The Phantom of the Opera (1998)
Running time: 99 mins. Directed by: Dario Argento Produced by: Giuseppe Colombo
Cast: Asia Argetno, Julian Sands, Andrea Di Stefano, Nadia Rinaldi

Julian Sands The Phantom of The Opera 1998
‘I’m not a Phantom. I’m a rat.’

‘I’m not a Phantom. I’m a rat.’

Paris, 1877. A young opera singer (Asia Argento) is torn between the rich and snobbish suitor Raoul (Andrea Di Stefano) and the handsome maniac killer who inhabits the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera (Julian Sands in a monstrous wig).

Dario Argento’s take on the classic story is visually sublime some of the time and dumb and corny the rest of the time. This gory, colourful film is populated with characters so one-dimensional and stupid that you relish their suffering at the hands of the Phantom.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is a triumph of fakery, filled with opera singers miming singing, child dancers who aren’t much good at dancing and actors hamming it up. Carlotta Altieri gives the sole good performance of the film, portraying a strong-willed if totally ridiculous character who dares stand up to the Phantom. Alas, she’s only a supporting character.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has the rhythm and scale of a classic Argento film but not the impact. Everything about it is deliberately artificial but also undeniably entertaining.

Reviewed in December 2013