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The Phantom Of The Opera
Directed by Dario Argento ; Starring Julian Sands, Asia Argento
A-Pix ; Region 0 ; NTSC ; Anamorphic 16:9 ; Dolby Digital 5.1, Stereo ; Julian Sands Interview, Behind-The-Scenes, Trailers

While Dario Argento's Phantom Of The Opera bears little resemblance to the films of his hey-day, both in terms of content and style, it turns out not as disappointing as one would expect. Argento's take on the much-told tale has his own daughter Asia starring as the beautiful young understudy to the proverbial 'fat lady', falling in love with the mysterious and deadly phantom (Sands) living in the catacombs deep beneath the opera house where, as an infant, he was taken in by a friendly family of rats.

Phantom brings out Argento's comic side and, despite being a little cheesy (excuse the pun), the subplot about the opera house's grimy old rat-catcher and his midget sidekick does provide a few laughs. Argento's long time effects guy Sergio Stivaletti lays on plenty of over the top, cartoon-like gore. Granted, this is a far cry from the likes of Suspiria and Tenebre, but it's a whole hell of a lot better than most horror films of the last few years.

While not spectacular, this is a nice little transfer, showing up plenty of detail during the many dark sequences set under the opera house. The colours within the opera house are quite vivid and striking. It does have its fair share of film and compression artifacts, but nothing too serious or distracting. The entire film has a very soft focus, which not only aids in the overall romantic mood of the film, but also makes it less obvious that this is an NTSC disc, with no obvious 3:2 pulldown nasties showing up. Needless to say, I didn't bother looking at the full frame version (on the flip side).

Again, by no means spectacular, the 5.1 soundtrack certainly suffices. Ennio Morricone's score fills the soundstage, both front and rear, without overwhelming. The rear channels are used effectively for ambience, but little more. Dialogue is clear throughout.

The most interesting extra feature on this disc is about ten minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of the film's production. While nothing special, it's always nice to be able to see the likes of Argento at work. There's also a very short interview with Sands, two trailers, a stills gallery, bios, and a Fangoria magazine article about producer Claudio Argento.

This is an adequate presentation of a film that I expected to be much worse than it turned out. However, it would have been nice to see a few more extra features. For Argento fans, it's worth checking out if only to satisfy your curiousity. Just don't expect another Deep Red.