Director: Dario Argento
Stars: Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
When it comes to bloody, sexy, murder mysteries mostly from Italy, known as giallos, there are quite a few gifted directors, but one always stands out from the rest: Dario Argento. From out-and-out classics like Deep Red, Tenebrae, and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, to misses like the ironically named Giallo, Dario had pretty much done it all in that genre. One of his last great ones was from 1987 and it was his take on the old Phantom of the Opera tale, a decade before he would actually direct a direct adaptation of that movie with Julian Sands and his own daughter, Asia Argento. Oddly enough this is the better Phantom film. And now from Scorpion Releasing and Code Red comes a new Blu-ray release with a brand new 2K transfer. So without further ado, let’s start appreciating the classics with Dario Argento’s Opera.
A pretty young woman is the ingénue in a big flashy play: Macbeth. Unfortunately that play has long been considered cursed and that might be true once our protagonist catches the eye of a sadistic murderer. The good news: the murderer is not interested in killing the woman. The bad news: he likes to tie her up and tape pins and needles under her eyelids to make her watch as he viciously murders various friends and coworkers. The black-masked, black-gloved killer is a staple in giallos, but this is a new level in sadism that come off particularly nasty. So the girl has to find out who is doing this and why before too many friends die, or the creep decides to turn the knife on her. Add in inappropriate (but always welcome by me) heavy metal music, ravens taking the place of bugs from one year’s previous Phenomena as unexpected allies, some inventive kills, lots of gorgeous camera work and use of color, and you’ve got yourself one memorable and fun Argento flick.
The only real problem with this movie is that the ending completely rips off the ending from Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon novel. I guess he thought he could get away with it since the first movie based off the novel, Michael Mann’s excellent Manhunter from 1986, changed the ending. However, I remember and I do have to ding his movie a bit for it.
Now let’s get to those extras and special features Scorpion Releasing and Code Red put on this new Blu-ray release. There is a new, near-22-minute interview with Dario Argento, and a new 17-minute interview with William McNamara, one of the actors in the film. There is also a small collection of trailers for the film. So yeah, there’s not a ton of extras on here, but the real star of the show is the new restoration that really does make the movie look great, so good on them for doing that.
Opera is a kooky, crazy, Argento giallo, considered by Dario to be the favorite of the films he’s done, and by many to be his last great movie, and I agree with that. It doesn’t reach the heights of some of his earlier movies, but it is damn good and damn fun and I love it. So yeah, I can easily and highly recommend this new Blu-ray as a get. So get it.