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Phantom of the Opera 89

Robert Englund , Jill Schoelen , Dwight H. Little    R (Restricted)   DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 36.94
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Trading tragic romance for Faustian malevolence, the 1989 version of The Phantom of the Opera is a surprisingly good example of '80s horror. It was dismissed as gory trash by most critics (no doubt because Kevin Yagher's gruesome makeup effects are effectively revolting), but horror buffs will be more forgiving of this lush production, which ranks well above average for horror films of its time. Set in Victorian London and shot mostly in Budapest, Hungary (for period architecture), the film reunites director Dwight Little (Halloween 4) with "Freddie Krueger" himself, Robert Englund, who had worked together on the Nightmare on Elm Street-based TV series Freddie's Nightmares. It's a good pairing, as Englund does some of his finest work as the Phantom, seen here as a horribly disfigured composer who patches his scarred and mangled face with stitched-on flesh, and makes a deal with the devil to be immortalized through his music. His muse, as always, is the lovely diva-to-be Christine, and the casting of Jill Schoelen gives the film added cachet among genre fans (who will recognize her from the 1987 cult hit The Stepfather). While bearing little resemblance to Lon Chaney's 1925 classic, this Phantom is actually more loyal to Gaston Leroux's original novel, and therefore deserves as much acknowledgement as any other version of the story. Certainly not a classic, but well worth a look. --Jeff Shannon


Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More Like Phantom of the Kreugers. April 23 2005
By K.w.
Format:DVD
Ok, i admit this movie was ok, but it's more like another one of Robert Englunds Freddy Krueger slsher movies rather then the Pahntom of the Opera. This movie has barely anything to do with the phantom of the opera, in fact it shouldn't even have the title "The Pahotm of the Opera" it should be something like "The Phantom of the Freddy Kreuger" or "The Pahntom of the slasher." or something like that.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good old' robert..... July 14 2005
Format:DVD
Being a huge Elm Street fan,I was excited when I saw this movie for 8.66 at wal-mart. It's not the best movie I've seen..Parts were extremely cheap and just not needed in the movie but it still had a somewhat interesting concept. But Robert Englund still does a pretty good job of being the bad guy from hell, so I gave it 3 stars. It's good movie for a laugh, and maybe a little digust if you don't like seening people sewing skin together....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Phantom of The Opera April 13 2004
By uleen
Format:VHS Tape
This movie rocks! Once again , Robert masters the role of terror king. I love is movie, it's one of my favorites. I ended up with doubles so I decided to sell one the one I haven't opened yet.
If you loved the Nightmare on Elm series, the is a must for any horror fan.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  91 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First and Only Gothic Slasher Film Dec 16 2004
By Crypt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
First off I rated this movie based on how much I enjoyed it... which is obviously quite a lot. The movie does have some inconsistencies and some acting that could have been better. (mostly in regards to American actors trying to sound British)
But if we're going to review this film fairly, we're going to have to quit comparing Englund's Phantom to Freddy. They have very little in common other than they're both hamburger-faced, viciously kill people and that they're played by the same actor. But what about the Phantom's one-liners in this film? Well, the Phantom is a bitter misanthrope, so that is where his hateful sarcasm comes from. Freddy's humor comes from the fact that he's gleefully toying with his victims. That said, I think this is a very interesting take on the Phantom legend. The story goes something like this; a young singer auditions for an Opera using a piece of music by an unknown composer, who also happened to be a murderer. She's hit in the head when a stagehand drops a sandbag and in a dream state experiences her past life in the 19th century London Opera. (the setting is changed from Paris to London, possibly to give the Phantom more of a "Jack the Ripper" edge) The familiar story then begins. Christine is tutored by her "Angel", becomes a big star and the Phantom then does anything and kills anyone to ensure her continuing success. The biggest differences in this film (besides its London setting) from the original story are that rather than being a genius born with a horrible deformity, the Phantom is a man who sold his soul to the devil for the immortality of his music. The price happened to be his face. He also gains supernatural powers and immortality for himself, as long as his music remains. (a concept borrowed from The Picture of Dorian Gray and De Palmas Phantom of the Paradise) Also instead of wearing a mask, this Phantom skins his victims, patching up his own face, using crude proto-Plastic Surgery with their scraps. There is no chandelier fall in this film, but it is the first version since 1925 to include the masquerade party, where the Phantom shows up in his Red Death costume. There's plenty of blood and guts in this film as the Phantom slashes his way through his enemies. One great scene has him facing a group of would-be muggers in a dark alley. The imagery is overwhelmingly gothic. Very moody. The phantom's underground sanctum, riddled with candles and a pipe organ is classic. The film did badly, I think mainly because it came in the wake of Webber's extremely popular romantic stage musical. Everyone had their idea of what a Phantom film should be, and this just wasn't it. This Phantom was too evil to pity, and he wasn't very romantic. But when you look at the movie objectively, it's pretty good. Much better than most horror films in the 80's. And next to Freddy, Eric Destler-The Phantom is one of Robert Englunds best performances. He's absolutely wonderful. He makes him a very complex character. On one hand he's a very sensitive, brilliant artist with a kind of nobility to him. On the other hand, he's an almost diabolical character. Evil and power-mad. Englund plays this out very well. As I said there are problems. Some things are never properly explained. How the Phantom retains his reign of terror over the Opera isn't fully explored. How did the Phantom go from being a superstitious "theater tradition" to a legend about a man who sold his soul to the devil for music? How did Christine know the words to the Phantom's music? Why didn't she seem surprised at all when her "Angel" turned out to be a recluse living underground? Anyway, I'm nit-picking. Over all a very enjoyable film and a must see for Robert Englund fans.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hell is getting what you desire. Oct. 13 2004
By M. L. Angelowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I am so delighted that this is finally being released on DVD.

Of all the phantom films I have seen in my eleven years of being a Phantom phan (not counting the yet to be released 2004 Phantom movie based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical) this is my favorite movie version of all Phantom movies.

Some may balk at the changes to the story from the original novel, and others may be shocked at the gore and violence; and while this movie does reek of many cliches that many 80's horror films tend to (time travel, the occasional bad costume, and emotionless acting by some characters) there are still enough qualities to make this movie worth seeing.

Englund positively shines in his performance. I have heard many people simply pass this off as another "Freddy-esque" movie because of the makeup, but the similarities between Englund's most notorious screen character and the Phantom stops there. Englund's Phantom is enigmatic and horrifying, delightfully sarcastic and brooding, sweet at one moment and the murderously violent the next - in this he captures the heart of the original Phantom from Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel, despite what others might say. It is also the only film to date (at the time of this review) with the ever famous graveyard scene.

Englund's makeup also deserves props - this is the only version so far that has given any attempt to make the Phantom noseless as he was intended to be in the novel.

Misha Segal's score lends a haunting tone that weaves throughout the film, and mixed with the dramatic settings - the elaborate stage, the Phantom's lair strewn thick with candles - makes this film a definite must-see for anyone who loves Phantom or appreciates dark eye candy.

While some of the film is laughable and unbelievable, the viewer must admit that even the terrifyingly unrealistic parts are, at the very least, creative. Turkish bathhouses and white towels will never look quite the same after seeing this movie.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Critics Beware! Feb. 15 2003
By John Blythe - Published on Amazon.com
New capture of the horror film classic, this version is sometimes regarded as an attempt to cash in on Andrew Lloyd Webber's broadway production. However Duke Sandefur's script is highly original and well done, he creates the phantom as part of the opera "Faust" which is used in this version and many other versions. Director Dwight H. Little also captures some good and terrifying moments. For the most part, Robert Englund is the phantom, Erik Destler, a music artist who sold his soul to the devil for the world to love his opera talents. Unfortunatly the devil mutilated his face and the phantom then gets supernatural powers and haunts the London Opera House. Christine (Jill Scholen) is in present day New York looking for a piece of music to sing to get an audition for a broadway production, she comes across Erik's music and once she sings it, she is sucked back to 1881 London and is the understudy of the opera's Diva Carlotta, and the phantom coaches her to be the new star. Along the way, the phantom skins the stagehand, he takes on three thieves and even kills an opera critic in a sauna that critized Christine's performance. The film is somewhat bloody, but the film captures some impressive scenes including Christine at the graveyard, the phantom's lair, the masked ball and the opera house is very luxorious as well. Unfortunatly this version does not have the classic falling chandlier, but the unmasking is different, instead of a mask, the phantom ripps apart his face, and Christine also does it again at the end of the film, (two scenes which are very hideious). Misha Segal's music score is by far the best for any phantom film so far. His music for Don Juan Triumphant is magical, and his scores for the title theme, and the murder scenes are suspensful and terrifying. Bill Nighy, Terence Harvey, Stephanie Lawrence, Nathan Lewis and Peter Clapham all co-star. Also look for Molly Shannon (Saturday Night Live) in a small role in the present day New York City sequences as Christine's friend.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Phantom" a great horror film!! Nov. 20 2004
By Michael J. Lira - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I'm really psyched that this movie is finally being released on DVD. I first saw it when I was 13 and visiting my sister in San Francisco. She had rented it because she was planning to take me to see it later that week.

This movie starts out in modern (1989) New York. Theater student Christine Day (Jill Schoelen) meets her friend Meg (Molly Shannon) at the library because she's found a 'new' music piece that is sure to win Christine the lead in a musical she's auditioning for. As Christine reads the music, it starts to bleed, an omen of what's to happen. At the audition the next day, just as she finishes the piece, a sand bag falls, nearly hitting her, and crashing into a mirror behind her. Suddenly, she is transported back into 19th century England, where she is an understudy to the London Opera's star Diva, Carlotta, who is jealous of Christine's talent. She also doesn't remember being from the future. Christine remains unphased by Carlotta and the fallen sand bag (which also happened in this time period). She is anxious to meet her music coach, the mysterious "Angel of Music" (Robert Englund) that she believes was sent by her father. The "Angel" is really Erik Dessler, a disfigured playwrite who sold his soul to the devil, Faust style. He has fallen in love with her, and is very protective of her. He begins to kill anyone who is in the way of Christine's career. First, he kills Joseph, a stage hand who dropped the sand bag that nearly killed Christine. Then there is the opera critic who gives her a bad review because the owner of the Opera has bribed him. His next victim is Carlotta, during the masquerade ball. Finally, Christine and her fiance Raoul get wise to the fact that her "Angel" is really a psycho, and take the police to the catacombs under the opera house to search for and arrest The Phantom. This culminates in a scene in which Christine "kills" the phantom by trying to destroy his music, and then "disappears" herself, only to find herself back in the present, thinkintg the whole thing a nightmare induced by the fallen sand bag. She is given the lead roll by the producer himself, who invites her out to dinner. When they stop at his apartment, the producer goes to "change", leaving Christine alone. The producer realizes that his face is falling apart and he needs a new one. Christine sees his studio and goes to see what he is working on. The music that comes from the computer turns out to be a completed version of The Phantom's opera, Don Juan Triumphant! When her reappears, all pretenses are dropped. Erik had returned for Christine, as she had promissed (in her past life) to be his bride. In horror, she rips his face off, and takes all his music. On the street, she rips is all up and throws it into the gutter, where she can hear The Phantom screaming in agony, and we think that he is finally dead.

The most haunting image in this film is probably the final scene, just after Christine has destroyed The Phantom's music. As she's walking down an alley past a violinist, he starts to play "Don Juan Triumphant", and we're left to wonder if the Phantom is really dead, and if Christine is to be haunted for all time by him.

This is a fantastic movie. It's one of the few horror films, made after the black-and-white days, that has ever succeeded in actually scaring me. It's a definate must-see for any "Phantom" fans. It's also probably the only film to portray The Phantom exclusively as a villan. Robert Englund is amazing as the Phantom, both as a cowering musician and then as a menacing murderer.

I give this movie 5 stars.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The splatter-flick version of "The Phantom of the Opera" Jan. 23 2005
By Lawrance M. Bernabo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The various movie versions of "The Phantom of the Opera" have always been a mix of gothic horror and gothic romance, but it is possible to work one extreme or the other. The 1990 two-part television version, directed by Tony Richardson with Charles Dance as the Phantom is the most romantic version to date, even more so that the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that was no doubt a source of inspiration. At the other end of the Phantom spectrum we get this 1989 version, directed by Dwight H. Little with Robert Englund as the title character. Since we are talking the man who directed "Halloween 4" and the actor who played Freddy Kreuger in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series, you know that this "Phantom" will be closer to a splatter-flick than any other previous retelling of the tale.

During the final credits we are informed that "This Motion Picture is not associated with any current or prior stage production or motion picture of the same title," which is an interesting statement to make but also quite accurate. That is because this version of "The Phantom of the Opera" wants to be different, and that is what the screenplay by Gerry O'Hara and Duke Sandefur delivers, even if the logic behind the alterations is suspect.

Our story begins in New York City in the present, where young Christine Day (Jill Schoelen) is preparing for a singing audition. Her friend, Meg (Molly Shannon), finds part of a score for "Don Juan Triumphant," written by Eric Destler long ago and presumably lost. Apparently Destler was a prime suspect in the deaths of several people in London a century earlier. The next thing we know Christine is waking up in London way back when, without any idea that she has become unstuck in time and with a different actress now playing her friend, Meg (Emma Rawson).

Why are we involving time travel in "The Phantom of the Opera"? Once you have watched the movie try and figure out the logic of Christine going "back" in time for the story to take place since she remembers nothing once she gets there. The inspiration here seems to be half "Bram Stoker's Dracula," where the Count and his beloved are tied together throughout eternity, and half "Faust," where a man sells his soul to the Devil to get his heart's desire. Christine gets to sing in Charles Gounod's opera version of "Faust" just in case people are not making the connection (but that assumes you are familiar with the Goethe version of the legend in the first place). Thus, a supernatural element is added to the story, but not to great effect (especially since it sets up a rather mundane way of Christine trying to break the cycle). The Phantom is a much scarier person when he is simply a mad genius rather than the Devil's henchman.

You may ask, why is Christine not only Day instead of Daae but also now an American singing at the opera in London instead of Paris (for a movie filmed in Budapest, Hungary)? I assume it is because most of the cast is English and therefore if it is in London nobody has to pretend to speak with French accents. Plus, you save big bucks not having to pretend your story is taking place in the magnificent Paris Opera House and not having to drop a chandelier on anybody.

Actually, the major problem with this version is that Christine's voice does not sound that great. She sounds like a very good high school singer of opera, but hardly a vocal talent that the Phantom would desire to nurture, let along the toast of London. For that matter, his tutoring is not showing much effect. He demands she sing with passion and she sounds exactly like she did before. The critic (Peter Clapham) who panned her singing in "Faust" was a bit harsh, but he was going in the right direction. Maybe we are supposed to be thinking of the Phantom likes children because Englund (a.k.a. Freddy) is playing the character, but having Carlotta (Stephanie Lawrence) be a better singer than Christine is really weird.

But maybe that is the point. Maybe this Phantom is backing the wrong horse and the only way to get his prodigy on stage is to start killing people. This would explain why he has to kill a lot of people this time around. This film is at its best when we get away from the singing and any idea of a romance between Christine and Erik, and the Phantom gets on with the slicing and dicing of the supporting cast. The twisted difference with this particular Phantom is that his "mask" consists of the flesh of his victims sewn over his facial deformities. Watching Erik sew on the skin will certainly creep you out, although this allows him to walk around and let his face be seen way too much given this is supposed to be a horror movie. He does don a nice ensemble at one point involving a hat and a scarf across his face, but for some reason things are done at an angle so it looks like he has one eye (to wit, it looks good but makes no sense).

The trailer for this movie explains that some stories are so powerful that they are reborn for each new generation (apparently more than love and music are forever). This is Hollywood-speak for the idea that Gaston Leroux's novel is so good that they do not think they can really mess it up, no matter what nonsense they come up with for a new version. The bottom line is that if they jettisoned the whole idea about the eternal lovers unstuck in time and just let this version be about the bloodiest Phantom of them all, then this would have been a much stronger film. When they get back to the framing device instead of coming up with some really neat way of killing off the Phantom, I was bitterly disappointed because I had sort of forgotten that nonsense was part of this movie. The decision to make the splatter-flick version of "The Phantom of the Opera" is a legitimate one, so there was really no need to throw in all that other junk.
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