10 July 2005 | gwendolyn_of_slytherin
Prepare Thyself for Camp
Dario Argento probably wasn't trying to make a funny movie about The Phantom of the Opera. Probably wasn't, but the point is, he did. While the gore in the film is unnecessary, it is not as frequent as we may be led to believe. The film does start out fairly abruptly with a guy getting his upper half sawed off, and at this time you're wondering, "what the hell is wrong with this picture?" Other death scenes are fairly equally gruesome, but all are also expected, therefore lowering the "scary gore factor." Of course, then you see The Phantom. Now, of course, you're really confused by the blonde hair and lack of a mask. I wasn't complaining about his good looks, though. The acting on Julian Sands's part is sub-par but not horrible, while Asia Argento is somewhat better. The relationship between the two is not incredibly believable, a sort of instant-love instant-hate instant-sadness thing that just keeps the audience confused as to why Christine can't make up her damn mind. Andrea Di Stefano is likable as Raoul, but some of his scenes are just incongruous with his character.
The sexuality of the film is incredibly overdone. Argento seems to need to expose women's breasts as many times as possible, including a very large and very unattractive La Carlotta. The opium den/whorehouse scene pretty much makes the movie (along with the couple of really gory parts) rated-R because we are definitely talking full frontal nudity, both sexes, and if you aren't expecting it you are pretty much blown away.
However: despite its flaws in cinematography (annoying and constantly switching camera angles and a soap opera-like quality), below standard acting, strange and inconclusive love story, and numerous bits of unwarranted violence... there is something about this film that just makes me want to declare it a campy, a cult classic. It is absolutely hilarious to watch, though very disturbing at times. If you've got a twisted sense of humour and/or a love of the bizarre, then this version of PotO with a man sticking rats down his pants for pleasure is the kind of movie you will want to see! 5 stars out of 10 for just being fun, though about 3 stars out of 10 when watched "critically." But as I said above, "prepare thyself for camp" and you'll probably love it.