Sunday, February 22, 2015

Phantom of the Opera (1989) (Scream Factory Blu-ray)

First off, I owe Scream Factory a big ol’ thank you. I’m happy to say that I had the chance to enjoy The Phantom of the Opera starring Robert Englund again after a long lapse. About all I could previously remember about this title was the poster which had me feeling all kinds of Fred Kruger down in my guts. I couldn’t remember the fun, gooey practical effects or the unique storyline. I remember when it hit in 89, I was only 9 years old and though I was a Fangoria reader, I had to wait a number of years to watch it due to the rating.  My parents wouldn’t dare let me hit the theater for a “Freddy” movie especially not after sneaking to my neighbor’s house to watch Nightmare on Elm Street 2.

Truth be told, now that I’m an older viewer and Robert Englund is more than just Freddy to me, this is quite a fun piece of 80’s semi-schlock. When you’re a kid and Englund was engrossed in Nightmare on Elm Street sequel after sequel it was difficult to remember that he was a TV actor (I adored him in V), that he could be in other movies. It almost damaged Phantom for me with the advertising pointing to the beloved iconic horror movie villain rather than a revamped version of the classic Leroux antagonist. It’s not scary. It is entertaining. It is a classic retelling of the Phantom story though it makes certain perfect 80’s concessions to keep the tale relevant and maybe more genre formulaic. There’s a little Faust in there. There’s a little sitcom, dream sequence wrap story… sort of.

Of course you get Robert Englund, but you also get Bill Nighy (of everything!) and Jill Schoelen (in everthing from Craven’s Chiller to The Stepfather to Curse II, Popcorn and Cutting Class!). Let’s not pretend that this will be the movie that Englund should be remembered for or that you would even hazard to remember the Nighy was in the damn thing.  It’s kind of place holder between Freddy movies for Englund and “a job” for Nighy.

The special features on the Scream Factory disc are generous and illuminating especially for a horror fan who was a bit young to remember the release or even the Fango article save for a few stills. You get a making of feature with cast in tow and an alternative cover on the reverse of the traditional jacket. You gotta see that to believe it (I won’t spoil it for you). It’s been given some nice treatment given the “popularity” of this movie. The transfer reminds me quite a bit of the transfer form the Dark Half. It’s definitely not bad, I’m glad to have it on Blu-ray, but at times it suffers from a lack of crispness in and the black appear faded. Some dust. Nothing to get uptight about.

Bonus Features
  • Audio Commentary With Director Dwight H. Little And Actor Robert Englund
  • Behind The Mask: The Making Of "The Phantom Of The Opera," Featuring New Interviews With Director Dwight H. Little, Actors Robert Englund, Jill Schoelen, And Alex Hyde-White, Screenwriter Duke Sandefur, Special Make-Up Designer Kevin Yagher, And More!
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Radio Spots
  • Still Gallery
 Do not expect the Universal version. Do not expect the Hammer storyline or even the original novel.  This is what happens when Hollywood give nearly $4,000,000 to a horror production on the cusp of the direct to video age.

You can pick up Phantom of the Opera (1989) now.

From Scream Factory:

Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Galaxy of Terror, Freddy vs. Jason) assumes the classic role of The Phantom in this shocking, nerve-jangling retelling of Gaston Leroux's timeless tale of music, madness and murder!

An aspiring opera singer finds herself transported back to Victorian-era London – and into the arms of a reclusive, disfigured maestro determined to make her a star. The silver-throated Christine (Jill Schoelen, The Stepfather) enjoys success through the arrangements of her new lover (Englund)... until she realizes that he has been committing unspeakably grisly murders in her honor and won't stop until he's completed his masterpiece... in blood!

Also starring Bill Nighy (I Frankenstein, Shaun of the Dead, Underworld), Alex Hyde-White (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), Terence Harvey (From Hell) and Molly Shannon (SNL, Superstar), directed by Dwight H. Little (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Marked for Death, Rapid Fire) and featuring make-up effects by Kevin Yagher (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, Face/Off), this “darker spin on…The Phantom of the Opera is the one to watch” (!

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