The myth says that under the great Paris Opera House, in the dark underground, there is a strange man who is living with rats. Few has seen this man, and young Christine is one of them. She's curious about this man, and soon becomes involved with him.
Yeah, I'm not the biggest fan of Dario Argento, but that's mostly because I can't seem to get into his giallo stories. Not always bad, but rather boring. But I have never watched a movie of his and thought "How could the director of this be one of the leading in the horror industry?". I did just that with his take on the "Phantom of the Opera" story, and I'm perplexed how it could even have been made. Why didn't they decide at some point that it was a bad idea and just stopped production? Who knows!
Similar to the original story, of course, it's about a strange man under the Paris Opera House. In the original story it's a disfigured man wearing a mask. Here it's Julian Sands with long blonde hair. Christine is a young singer at said opera, and she meets this strange man that everyone thought was a mere myth. And for some god damn reason she can hear his thoughts! Yeah, at one point she's on stage and he's talking to her through her mind. It's quite fucking ridiculous. But then again, so is most of the movie.
Why is this such a stupid movie, and should it be? I'm sure the intentions were to make a different sort of retelling, and there's definitely a dose of humour in it. I'm sure not all of the stupid scenes were unintentional, but it doesn't make them any less bad. How about this? Erik, the "phantom" was dumped in a basket under the opera and has since been raised by rats! There's an actual scene where rats save the basket from falling down a small waterfall. Brilliant, I understand why he likes the rats so much! On the opposite side we have a filthy man down there who HATES rats, and sets out traps for them. But not only that, he has a fucking rat-catcher-mobile! And a dwarf friend who helps him on his hunts! They drive around down there in the dungeons, sucking up (like a vacuum cleaner) and slicing up (with a spinning blade) rats using this little car of theirs. This is just two of the number of cheesiness that's brought upon us in this adaption by the "Italian master".
One thing this has going is good gore, by the fantastic Sergio Stivaletti. So at least the kill scenes are worth an applaud, even if the deaths themselves might be as stupid as the rest of the movie. Then we have Asia Argento, who I'm not at all as smitten by as most other horror fans, showing her body here and there. Not a bad body, of course, but it doesn't help the movie too much. But if you want some Italian gore than there is some to get here. That's essentially the savior here.
"The Phantom of the Opera" isn't the most boring film I've seen from Argento, and definitely not the best. But it's hands down the most stupid and laughable, and it could be worth seeking out for that reason. If you want to watch his newer films then you're much better off with "Sleepless" and "Do You Like Hitchcock?", but they don't have the ratmobile. The latter I look forward to revisiting in a review soon!