The Phantom of the Opera (1989)

The idea of taking Gaston Leroux’s gothic horror novel and turning it into an ’80s slasher starring Robert Englund (aka as Freddy Krueger in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, one of the most famous slashers of the decade), and the project being shepherded by ’80 shlock connoisseur Menahem Golan sounds like a can’t-miss proposition for a horror hound like myself. But the finished product just… sits there. In his years as the head of Cannon Films, Golan was famous for pursuing cinematic legitimacy while aggressively misunderstanding the appeal of the movies he produced, and this is so apparent here: The concept *is* the movie, there’s nothing else to it. It’s a matter of cinematic fraud, really: Golan borrows the legitimacy of Leroux’s classic work (and the then-enhanced profile of the property via Andrew Lloyd Weber’s massive 1986 Broadway success) and then surrounds it with a sloppy, half-assed screenplay, acting that’s either indifferent (see: a sleepwalking Jill Schoelen as Christine) or underwhelming (see: Englund, going out of his way to not seem like Krueger despite his burnt prosthetics, and underplaying the role to the point of campy inertia in the process), and a supporting cast that completely fades into the background. The kill scenes are forgettable, and while the sets are gorgeous, they’re also terribly artificial and theatrical-looking, which is a constant distraction.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

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