The Monster of the Opera – original title: Il mostro dell’opera – is a 1961 Italian horror supernatural film directed by Renato Polselli (Black Magic Rites; Mania; Delirium) from a screenplay co-written with Ernesto Gastaldi. The movie stars Marco Mariani, Giuseppe Addobbati and Barbara Hawards.
The film had a troubled production and remained unreleased until 1964.
Initially conceived as a sequel of Polselli’s The Vampire and the Ballerina (1960), the film had the working title “Il vampiro dell’opera” (“The Vampire of the Opera”), but because of a perceived diminishing interest in vampire films, it was released with mostro (“monster”) replacing vampiro (“vampire”).
“It builds on everything that made The Vampire and the Ballerina a fun time but is progressive in a sense with certain erotic and expressionistic elements that in contrast to its old-fashioned, classic look makes it feel ahead of its time […] Part gothic Italian horror, part Italian comedy, and part erotic madness, Il mostro dell’opera feels like a seed to Polselli’s characteristic mania style…” At the Mansion of Madness
“The movie brims with style; it’s full of bizarre camera angles and weird touches (the vampire threatens people with a big pitchfork), but the overall effect is one of consummate silliness, and I suspect that knowing what the characters were saying would make it all that much dumber.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
” … Polselli’s real interest is in the hints of lesbianism among the dancers […] and in S&M stylings of Stefano’s alternate reality, in which a bunch of barely clad harpies are chained to a wall amid swathes of ground fog and try to get their plastic fangs into the heroine. Polselli also goes for broke in a ridiculously extended scene of the company dancing insanely under Stefano’s baleful influence.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema
“When tension building has to give way to delivering shocks in the film’s second half, Polselli seems to lose interest and allows the movie to degenerate into a routine sexploitation effort.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
“The erotic overtones of the vampire myth are delineated in a rather crude, awkward fashion. Not surprisingly, Polselli soon switched to sexploitation features which he directed under the pseudonym of Ralph Brown.” Lawrence McCallum, Italian Horror Films of the 1960s
“Slaughter is a masterpiece of the genre, while Ballerina and Playgirls feature some silly shenanigans involving girls dancing, prancing, and fleeing in see-through nightgowns but also some stylish shots and creepy atmosphere – but this one offers very little in the entertainment department and is an overall goofy and frivolous effort.” Joseph Brando
Bizarre Cinema! Horror all’italiana 1957 – 1979 – contains a chapter on an interview with Renato Polselli
Cast and characters:
- Marco Mariani [as Marc Marian] … Sandro – Death Smiles at Murder; Frankenstein ’80; Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key; What Have You Done to Solange?; Slaughter Hotel; Tomb of Torture
- Giuseppe Addobbati [as John McDouglas] … Stefano – The Cat’s Victims; The Sexorcist; Kill, Baby… Kill!; Nightmare Castle
- Barbara Hawards … Giulia
- Alberto Archetti [as Albert Archet] … Achille – Mill of the Stone Women
- Carla Cavalli … Aurora
- Aldo Nicodemi … Aldo
- Jody Excell … Yvette
- Milena Vukotic … Carlotta – The House of the Yellow Carpet; Black Journal; Blood for Dracula; Spirits of the Dead
- Olga Jala
- Maureen Verrich
- Elyane Pade
- Renato Montalbano … Tony