Through the 80’s & 90’s Fangoria magazine was the one and only source of what was coming out in the pulsating world of horror cinema. For a period of this time you couldn’t move for seeing Robert England’s burned twisted face courtesy of some Kevin Yagher make up. It was a perfect combination of talents. I always saw the images from 1989’s The Phantom of the Opera all over Fangoria, it looked horrific but alas it passed me by on VHS, until now and in lovely HD!
Dwight H. Little had already made ‘Halloween 4’ & was about to make Steven Segal standout ‘Marked for Death’ so MGM must have thought that an action/horror director was a good fit for a story set in 1881 about a mad musician chasing a lost love…. I mean, it is about that, however this WAS the 80’s. ..THE 1980’s.
The story is bookended in modern day New York as our beautiful, young opera hopeful is subconsciously transported back to 1881 via a broken mirror and into the body of the Phantom’s muse. None of the songs from the stage show are present here, some hints at the music maybe but this film is all about the horror and using Englunds ‘Freddy Kruger’ menace to full effect. Yagher (Elm Street 2, 3 & 4/Trick or Treat) is on board in the makeup department and in true 80’s fashion buckets of blood ensue. The film itself is a turkey, bad pacing, awful characters but who cares. It’s a total romp! Early appearances from Bill Nighy! and SNL’S Molly Shannon is good to see. Englund is excellent in the role of the Phantom, he is basically Freddy in period dress, and he decapitates, skins and burns all that oppose him in his quest for love. The big draw here is that it’s an FX film, lots of shots of Phantom peeling off his makeshift face made from victim’s skin and several strong gore scenes.
The only major gripe I have about this release is that it’s the heavily cut US MGM DVD release which was butchered by the MPAA as were many slasher films of the time, by today’s standards this is pretty tame but this is the only known cut of the film available. I did feel like maybe a push for some of the lost gore scenes or a commentary could have gone some way to offer more as there are sadly no special features to speak of on this disk.
Also the blu-ray box states that it’s in 1.33:1 ratio (full screen) but the film is actually an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen that looks gorgeous in 1080p!
Overall this is a fine snapshot of the decade where horror and gore ruled.
Review by Ramrod from a disc kindly supplied by 101 Films.