The Phantom of the Opera: The Motion Picture is a 1989 American horror film directed by Dwight H. Little (Freddy’s Nightmares; Halloween 4; Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid), from a screenplay by Gerry O’Hara (The Mummy Lives) and Duke Sandefur (Necronaut; Ghost Town), based on Gaston Leroux’s novel of the same name. The film was produced by Menahem Golan and Harry Alan Towers.
The film is a gorier version of the classic 1910 tale, and has A Nightmare on Elm Street ’s Robert Englund playing the Phantom, plus Jill Schoelen, Alex Hyde-White, Bill Nighy (Shaun of the Dead; Hot Fuzz; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest), Stephanie Lawrence and Molly Shannon (Hotel Transylvania; Scary Movie 4 & 5).
Christine Day is a young Broadway singer in New York City auditioning for a show, who comes across an old piece of music written nearly 100 years before by an unknown musician named Erik Destler.
Destler, it seems, had made a pact with the devil (perhaps unintentionally) so the world would love his music. The catch was Erik’s face would be left horribly disfigured forever. Once Christine sings his music for an audition, she is hit with a sandbag. Thus follows a presumed flashback into the past roughly around 1881, where she was the star in the London Opera House. There, she is coached by a mysterious “Phantom” who will do anything to make his protégé a star, even if it means murder. Christine soon finds out that her teacher is in fact Destler, whom she comes to loathe…
“This Phantom packs more suspense into its first five minutes than the classic version did in its full 92. And this version is actually super gory. I’m talking decapitations (yes, plural), disembowelments (yes, plural) and even a full body skinning. I was definitely not prepared for this! Robert Englund is beyond perfect for this role.” All Horror
” …much of the film seems to be squarely aimed at the slasher crowd. The gore is amped up, with much emphasis placed on Erik’s gruesome murders (including stabbing, flaying and decapitation) and stitched together face … From the outset it’s very clear that this is no low-budget affair.” Michael Rose, Mysterious Universe
“Can’t really fault the effects, they were pretty good throughout the movie, the plot was the standard plot for Phantom … it feels a lot more faithful, at least in spirit, to the original novel, the Faustian element is very present through out and it’s more macabre approach is a lot more entertaining than the romanticised version in the musical.” I Spit on Your Taste
“Like most Cannon Films, the ideas and situations on this version of Phantom of the Opera are so ludicrous that they end up being funny … Oh and the ludicrous angle? The devil is a midget? Okay, not enough craziness? How about having The Phantom have intercourse with a whore to release his sexual frustrations with Christine? And that’s without counting all the gory deaths, of which there are many…” The Film Connoisseur
” ..has intriguing touches but whatever new life the much-rewritten script brings to an old plot quickly submerges in mucho facile gore and supernaturally stupid characters.” The Videohound’s Complete Guide to Cult Flicks and Trash Pics
Cast and characters:
- Robert Englund as Erik Destler/The Phantom of the Opera, a disfigured homicidal musical genius who is in love with Christine Day
- Jill Schoelen as Christine Day, an innocent and sweet soprano
- Alex Hyde-White as Richard Dutton, a businessman, opera patron, and Christine’s lover
- Bill Nighy as Martin Barton, the Opera’s manager and Carlotta’s boyfriend
- Stephanie Lawrence as La Carlotta, the pampered, spoiled leading diva; a bratty and selfish woman
- Molly Shannon as Meg (New York)
- Emma Rawson as Meg (London)
- Terence Harvey as Inspector Hawkins
- Nathan Lewis as Davies
- Peter Clapham as Harrison
- Yehuda Efroni as The Rat Catcher
- Terence Beesley as Joseph Buquet
- Mark Ryan as Mott