Phantom of the Opera (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

When the wandering minstrels wander into my backyard and sing of the worst films ever made, they will be hard-pressed to ignore this one. Considering that Dario Argento is an mature adult who has been making films for decades, some of those films stunning in their own way, the breadth and depth of the incompetence in this film is beyond imagining. Usually even bad movies have some redeeming qualities. This has none.
The visuals, technical overview. There are two types of scenes. Type 1 - really, really, really dark scenes in which you can't even see what is happening. Type 2 - merely very dark scenes in which you can make out the activity on screen. Of the two, the Type 1 scenes are distinctly better. 

The visuals, artistic overview. Julian Sands has fantasies of humans trapped in a giant burning rat trap which floats angelically on cartoon clouds. There is a public bath and bordello filled with naked fat people. (This is one of the scenes that would have been better as a Type 1). There are several graphic impalings and dismemberments. 'Nuff said.


Asia Argento's breasts are visible in a sex scene with Sands.

Sands is seen naked from the side in this scene.

Kitty Keri is topless as she strips for sex.

There is also an orgy/bath/massage scene in which there is plentiful full-frontal male and female nudity, including some of the ugliest people ever to be photographed naked.

The sound. Nobody will ever accuse Dario of being anal retentive. In the lip-synching scenes, he didn't even make a half-hearted attempt to co-ordinate the sound and the visuals. There's, like, a guy with a bass voice singing Wagner in German, and Asia Argento is synching along in a different tempo while dancing the Mexican hat dance.

The script. The Phantom of the Opera is gothic melodrama to begin with, but Dario managed to add some great details. For example, the phantom is the way he is because he was abandoned by his mother and raised by rats. I didn't make that up. That's a real plot point, although I notice that Julian Sands speaks English with only a trace of a rat accent. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • photo gallery, filmographies, trailers

  • a behind the scenes featurette, and an interview with Julian Sands

Fanty's mortal enemy is the official Opera House Ratcatcher, who has put down more than 4,000 of Fanty's family. He drives through the bowels of the building with a mechanized contraption straight out of Time Bandits, complete with little guy assistant, and this McCormack Rat Reaper sweeps up the little critters and grinds them into ... ratatouille, I guess. While the ratcatchers perform this important function, the sound track features some "Gilligan pulled a boner again" music.

The acting. What acting? The leads are barely passable. The minor characters couldn't possibly be played by actors. These people must be members of the crew or their families or just people off the streets. Asia does OK and looks OK, but she only has about 30 lines, which leaves Julian Sands to carry the film on his own, surrounded by amateurs.

And we never do find out the things we really want to know about Fanty. Like how did he get such a gigantic organ?

But I have to say, in the final analysis, that Dario has his priorities right. Most guys directing their daughter in a movie would have worried about making her look and sound good. Dario was more worried about getting the right camera angle to film a shot up her asshole. Ya gotta admire the guy for that.  

The Critics Vote

  • Apollo 58 (way, way too high - about 56 or 57 higher than it should be)

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 3.7, Apollo users 31/100. Excruciatingly bad scores that would fit beautifully into Ed Wood's resume, but still too high. Even Wood wouldn't sign the scorecard on this round. Compared to this, the technical effects in Plan 9 seem to have been conceived by Industrial Light and Magic, while the acting and dialogue in this film make Glen or Glenda seem like The Lion in Winter.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D-, I guess, although if you argued for an F, I wouldn't object strongly.

Return to the Movie House home page