15 June 2016

DARIO ARGENTO'S TERROR AT THE OPERA. (1987) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




DARIO ARGENTO'S TERROR AT THE OPERA. (1987) DIRECTED AND CO-PRODUCED BY DARIO ARGENTO. STORY AND SCREENPLAY BY DARIO ARGENTO. STARRING CHRISTINA MARSILLACH, IAN CHARLESON, URBANO BARBERINI, CORALINA CATALDI-TASSONI AND DARIA NICOLODI. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is one of legendary director Dario Argento's most successful films. I personally loved it, with the lushness and rich colours of the sets, the glamour of the opera-house and the inventiveness and sheer stabbiness of the villain.

It's hard not to think of Gaston Leroux's classic tale THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA when you're watching it. There's no phantom, though, not unless you count the killer when he gets half his face burned off in a show-down. But ooops, mon Dieu, I'm spoiling it...!

The story is not dissimilar to that of the THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in the sense that it's set in the world of opera. Well, d'uh...! Furthermore, an established diva is replaced by an inexperienced ingenue when she is hit by a car. The beautiful young ingenue is called Betty and, naturally, she sings like a dream in the director's musical production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, or 'the Scottish play' if you're superstitious, haha.

Speaking of superstitious, Beautiful Betty thinks that the whole shebang and shooting-match is cursed. Weird stuff is happening to her, both on and offstage. The weirdest thing of all is when a psychotic killer stabs her lover to death in front of her. I'm sure you'll admit that that's pretty weird.

Well actually, the weirdest thing of all is when the killer attaches these needles under Betty's peepers, forcing her to keep her eyes open and watch the mutilation. It's a sadistic, cruel CLOCKWORK ORANGE-type mechanism that becomes the motif, if you will, for the whole film.

More murders are to follow. The most gruesome is probably that of the mouthy young Wardrobe Mistress. What she doesn't have done to her with that big scissors is scarcely worth talking about. The poor wee girl. Beautiful Betty, who by now is getting used to seeing the world through an apparatus of lethally pointy steel, is convinced that she is the killer's real target, but why? No-one knows.

This film is so bloody. My favourite scenes would probably be the ones in Betty's apartment, when the killer is trying to get to her through the vent. These scenes are tense and claustrophobic. They reminded me a lot of Klaus Kinski's sick-in-the-head voyeuristic landlord in CRAWLSPACE (1986). Crawlspaces are scary spaces and unknown quantities. I honestly wouldn't be comfortable having one in my house but they work extraordinarily well in horror films.

There's some fantastic music in the film by such groovy personages as Brian Eno, Roger Eno, Steel Grave, Claudio Simonetti and even Bill Wyman from The Rolling Stones. 1987? That would have been about the time that Bill was making headlines in the tabloids for marrying a stunningly beautiful young one called Mandy Smith. That was a big story for a while back then, nudge nudge, wink wink.

Oh, and there's a few bits and pieces in there too by a couple of young fellas by the name of... what were they called again...? Oh yeah, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. Never heard of 'em before. To be brutally honest with you, movie fans, I'd be surprised if they amounted to anything...!

Dario Argenta's ex-lover and the mother of his now-famous actress daughter Asia plays the part of Betty's agent, Myra. There was apparently some bad blood on set between the director and his ex Daria Nicolodi, a renowned theatre actress, on account of the problems in their personal relationship, but this didn't stop the film from ending up as one of Monsieur Argento's masterpieces.

The ending of the film is mad. Let's just say that the hills are alive with the sound of screaming...! I like the character of Mark, the director with all the big plans. He reminds me of that ginger fella Max Branning from EASTENDERS.That's not a bad thing. Old Maxie is one of the guys on TV who are living proof of the fact that bald men can sometimes be devastatingly sexy.

I also love the fact that we have a few suspects to chew on as well before the final curtain comes
down. There's nothing like a good old whodunnit. The fat glossy ravens deserve a shout-out too. They're so well-trained! I love this film. It mightn't have a Phantom, exactly, but it has blood and guts galore and a dressmakers' ransom in needles and pins. What more could you possibly ask for...?


AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







No comments:

Post a comment