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Dario Argento's Phantom of the Opera

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Product Details

  • Actors: Julian Sands, Asia Argento, Andrea Di Stefano, Nadia Rinaldi, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni
  • Directors: Dario Argento
  • Writers: Dario Argento, Gaston Leroux, Giorgina Caspari, Gérard Brach
  • Producers: Aron Sipos, Claudio Argento, Giuseppe Colombo
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Allumination
  • DVD Release Date: November 23, 1999
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 1578482542
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,573 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dario Argento's Phantom of the Opera" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Interview With Actor Julian Sands
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • Fangoria Article
  • Theatrical & Video Trailers
  • Photo Galleries

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Mysteriously, a series of terrifying accidents and brutal murders leaves a bloody body trail in the subterranean caverns of an opera house basement. Born into the murky sewer waters below the theater stalks a man/monster raised by creatures of the underworld. This Phantom's dark and grotesque life is shattered when he becomes obsessed with a beautiful young singer, seducing her with his chilling but exotic presence. The blood-curdling terror and disturbing eroticism of this classic story make this horror film one that will haunt your dreams forever.


Leaden horror costumer that takes its tenuous starting point from the classic Gaston Leroux novel of the same name. The twist in this variation is that the Phantom was raised by telepathic rats in the subterranean caverns beneath the opera house. Thus our feral Phantom (Julian "Ratboy" Sands) develops an obsessive love for up-and-coming diva Christine (Asia Argento), and sets about to seduce her to his dark, rodent existence. Although beautifully photographed, with lots of ornate period detail to catch the eye, this is largely a by-the-numbers supernatural horror story with scant gory set pieces as diversions. Fans of Dario Argento will yell "Rats!" and all else will merely shrug. And why are the rats telepathic, anyway? Screenwriting credits go to Gerard Brach, best known for his many collaborations with Roman Polanski, most notably Repulsion. However, none of his absurd sense of humor comes through in this film, which really needs it. A shame all around. The DVD includes a short interview with the film's star, Julian Sands, as well as a photo gallery, some dispensable making-of clips, spliced together to appear as a featurette (mostly in untranslated Italian) and a very informative article from Fangoria Magazine. --Jim Gay

Customer Reviews

The acting, the script, the 'special' effects -- dear god it is just unfathomably bad.
Mark Prindle
All of the scenes went in completely different directions, and the film didn't follow the usual rules of dramatical narrative.
Seriously, I can't think of any reason why anyone would want to make a POTO movie this way!
DeRosset Myers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 29, 2005
Format: DVD
I have nothing against the idea of doing "The Phantom of the Opera" as a splatter flick. But with both Dwight H. Little's 1989 version starring Robert Englund and Dario Argento's effort from 1998 the problem is not the blood and gory but the liberties they take with Gaston Leroux's original novel. For the former it was the idea the Phantom had been marked by the Devil and was pursuing Christine Daae through time, and for the latter it is the idea that the Phantom was raised by rats. If you are not reminded of the flashback in "Batman Returns" where the infant Penguin is dispatched in a basket on a river when the parents of the Phantom do the same thing in the opening of this film when they send their baby sailing away on a Paris sewer then it is only because you have not seen both films. Apparently the rats are telepathic, which explains how it is the abandoned infant grows up to speak, play music, and build a pipe organ in the catacombs beneath the opera house.

Despite the cover art for the DVD this Phantom, played by Julian Sands, does not wear a mask. This is because he does not need to; there is nothing wrong with his face, but inside he is twisted as a result of being raised by telepathic rats. The rats actually become an important part of the story, but more in a "Willard"/"Ben" way than a "Tarzan of the Apes"/"The Jungle Book" way. But before we get to them let us consider the changes in the love triangle that Argento and co-writer Gérard Brach have come up with for this version of the familiar story.

You can easily pick out the trio from the rest of the cast because they are the ones with long hair.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By jason hyde on February 11, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This, admittedly, is a boring, sloppy, embarrassing mess. Easily the maestro's weakest since Inferno (which married gorgeous visuals to the least involving story in Argento's entire career). The flaws here are massive, starting with a surprisingly poor script from Gerald Brach. It's interesting that Argento's first collaboration with an acclaimed screenwriter is also the worst script he's ever filmed. Acting is very uneven, although the dubbing doesn't allow for complete critiques. Sands tries hard, but the phantom has been rewritten in such a silly manner that he's ultimately working in vain. Asia Argento looks great, as usual, but she's just wrong for the part. Idiotic elements abound, the violence is unimpressive and inserted seemingly at random, the material involving the rats is just stupid and silly. Dario's camerawork is shockingly restrained and conservative, as if the period setting caused him to quell his usually baroque techniques. It's those techniques, though, that make him unique and inimitable. Here he seems too mannered. Attempts at comedy mostly fall short of being funny, and there's far too many of them - Dario shouldn't do comedy, as Five Days in Milan ably demonstrated. On the plus side, the cinematography is beautiful, creating probably the most accurate recreation of the period i've ever seen. Ennio Morricone's music is lovely, although not as good as his work for The Stendhal Syndrome. And there's a dwarf. Argento works best with modern settings, attitudes, and ideas, and this failed experiment at a period piece is hopefully just that - a failed experiment and not a new direction. Besides, the director already covered this material in Opera (aka Terror at the Opera) in 1989, giving it an amazingly cold, nihilistic, and misanthropic attitude that's far more impressive than this film's more "polite" approach. Watch that film instead of this one.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Peter Neal on June 20, 2000
Format: DVD
Well, after the pretty poor by Argento standards Trauma and the near-perfect Stendhal Syndrome , Dario Argento pulls off his most expensive in-joke yet!
This is a very difficult film that demands a lot from it's viewers. It is not always easy to read between the lines of an Argento film. It never has been easy after all.
Argento does not care to make a traditional horror film, that's for sure. Instead, he creates a self-ironic film, deliberately balancing between shots of poetic grace (the Phantom's visions of children pierced by mousetraps - chilling) and shots of extravagant kitch (Asia's appearance in the same scene!).
Argento's choice of not to have his Phantom disfigured was not without a point: This man is disfigured from the inside, and thanks to the script, it shows. Let's not forget that Gerard Brach, the co-scripter, is the man who co-wrote "Frantic", "The Fearless Vampire Killers" and many other Polanski films. He lived up to our expectations once again.
The film is deliberately funny in places but it contains some very weird scenes (like the one in the brothel - unbelievable for an Argento film). I would say that it is his most 'Fellini-esque' film yet. It is his "8 1/2". This is his contribution to a tradition kept by directors such as Fellini or Visconti for that matter (he is often called "the Visconti of violence" after all).
Let's not forget the help he gets from his actors: Julian Sands couldn't be a better choice. His phantom is gentle, vicious, romantic and monstrous all at the same time. Asia on the other hand seems to be stoned for most of the film which adds more to the dreaminess of the concept me thinks.
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