Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini, Daria Nicolodi, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni
Director: Dario Argento
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
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A real eye-opener . . .
Matthew Skidmore | Stourbridge, West Midlands United Kingdom | 11/16/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Dario Argento movies aren't noted for their plausibility or realism, and this entry is no exception. Critics and fans have complained endlessly about Argento's earlier work (SUSPIRIA and DEEP RED) being classic examples of the horror genre, whilst his latter efforts (TRAUMA and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) sadly lacking in any department. This 1987 production has the unfortunate position of being sandwiched in between the 'old' Dario and the 'new'. The story has a young opera singer taking over the leading role in a 1980s 'style over content' rendition of MACBETH. Unknown to her, she has attracted the attention of a crazed fan who first kidnaps her, then forces her to stand and watch as he butchers and murders her friends, lover, etc. in front of her very eyes (in a clever trick - the killer cellotapes needles under her eyelids to keep her watching the graphic carnage). The film goes on like this for about an hour, (a) the killer shows up (b) he kidnaps the singer and (c) a murder scene (accompanied by a terrible heavy rock soundtrack which destroys any tension the film had built up). Argento uses Point of View camerawork, which at first is diverting, but at around the 20 minute mark you become lost and wish he would have held back on this device.Argento's 'inventive murder' sequences which have trademarked the directors work are evident in OPERA. The show-stopper has to be the bullet through the key hole scene, which is truly stunning. Infact, all of the film is technically excellent and inventive, it's just a shame the screenplay isn't very involving and the UK 'Cockney style' dubbing never helps the viewer connect to the characters in the movie. The film isn't disturbing or particularly that gory (which in itself is strange, as the movie has been unavailable in the UK for a long time - I hope the BBFC and Anchor Bay remedy this soon), and one wishes that the cast would act a little more naturally, ie: When the singer witnesses the graphic stabbing of her boyfriend, she hardly seems to be bothered about the whole event! (I don't know, perhaps the translation was wasted on me after all!)Anchor Bay's 2 disc edition is another triumph. The transfer is superb and the movie looks like it was just made, and not 14 years old. The trailers are interesting to see how the marketing differs in the Orion released US version to the original italian ad. An informative documentary holds things together and a bonus disk offers the soundtrack (which I really should get around to playing one time!) All in all, a great disc for Argento fans, but if you are a casual horror fan looking for cheap thrills - this movie ain't it."
Dario Argento....The Horror Film Scientist!!!!!!!!
Kevin Hodge | davie, fl United States | 12/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't expect any "out of your seat jumper"scenes or super gore in this movie,remember,this is an Argento movie and he is one of the few Italian directors that doesn't have to use extreme gore closeups or hard core death scenes to get your attention.This movie is 2nd to his masterpiece, "Susperia". Opera is not a slow film with a dragging story line that takes forever to build up.From the opening Argento moves in for the kill and grabs the viewer,and then rocks your brain with bold effects and stunning camera wizardry.I highly reccomend the unrated version with the extra sountrack disc.You just don't see horror like this any damn more...what a shame."
Truly Beautiful and Breathtaking
black_womens_network | Scottsdale, AZ United States | 01/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm almost at a loss for words... Like others, I didn't think anything could top "Suspiria" but in my opinion, this one does. The two-disc (DVD and soundtrack CD) is another wonderful Anchor Bay package. First of all, the picture is WONDERFUL. Although a 1987 film, it looks like it is a contemporary brand-new picture. It's the cleanest DVD for the Dario Argento films. The sound is very engaging and has total clarity. The fidelity on the soundtrack CD is a bit dated, but is clear and is an added bonus.I'm not going to dwell on what happens in this movie, but be assured that there are so many weird elements in it and they are photographed in style. Only a genius could think of and blend these elements together the way Argento did. The camera angles are superb!Argento usually has a nice-looking female lead in his pictures although they are plain rather than stunningly beautiful. Christina Marsillach is a total beauty, so if you like watching a beautiful woman in a horror film you won't find anyone better.By the way, the Anchor Bay DVD's do not play well on older DVD players. I now own several Anchor Bays, mostly Dario Argento films, and since getting a newer 16x I can play them all."
One of Argento's greatest achievements
Libretio | 11/27/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
(Italy - 1987)
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Super 35)
Theatrical soundtrack: Dolby Stereo
Borne from an abortive attempt to mount his own unique stage version of Verdi's 'Rigoletto' in Macerata in 1985, director Dario Argento transforms the backstage setting of a magnificent opera house into the lair of a psychopathic killer in OPERA (1987), his last truly great film until SLEEPLESS in 2000. Spanish model-turned-actress Cristina Marsillach plays the young ingenue who's suddenly thrust into the lead role of a dramatic new theatrical presentation of Verdi's 'Macb...', er, I mean, 'The Scottish Play' (ahem!), whereupon she's immediately targeted by a hooded, black-gloved maniac who abducts her at regular intervals, ties her up, and forces her to witness the brutal murders of various friends and colleagues.
Fans will relish the familiarity of Argento's voyeuristic obsessions and the frequent references to his earlier productions, while everyone else will simply marvel at the visual and thematic excesses conjured by the movie's outlandish backdrop (it was filmed at the spectacular Teatro Regio Opera House in Parma, just outside Milan). The overripe production design by Davide Bassan and Gianmaurizio Fercioni fills the wide Super 35 frame with a feast of classical architecture which often threatens to overwhelm the stick-figure characters, and Argento allows the operatic theme to dominate virtually every aspect of the production, transforming a Gothic nightmare into an ultra-modern shock-machine, brilliantly captured by Ronnie Taylor's constantly roving camerawork. Outside of his splendid efforts for Richard Attenborough (GANDHI, CRY FREEDOM, etc.), OPERA represents one of Taylor's most innovative achievements, utilizing state-of-the-art techniques to convey the director's wildest flights of fancy, most notably a vertiginous 'raven's-eye-view' of the opera house towards the end of the film as it swoops and dives across the audience in search of the killer. Veteran editor Franco Fraticelli (who's worked with almost all of Italy's major directors since the 1950's, from Argento to Wertmuller) also excels himself here, cutting the film to the rhythm of a deafening music score which combines classical opera and thrash metal to disorientating effect, hurling the narrative forward with unstoppable force.
Despite widespread reports of her temperamental flare-ups during production, Marsillach is restrained but effective as the focus of the killer's attention, while Ian Charleson (CHARIOTS OF FIRE) makes the most of his role as a hard-bitten movie-turned-opera director. Elsewhere, though most of the international cast speaks English throughout, the performances of William McNamara (COPYCAT), Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, Urbano Barberini and Daria Nicolodi in crucial roles are compromised by fairly obvious dubbing, though the results aren't too distracting. In a fascinating documentary which accompanied the original US DVD release, Argento explains that the cynical, loveless people described in his script (co-written with Franco Ferrini, a longtime Argento collaborator) were his response to the AIDS crisis which dominated headlines throughout the 1980's, undermining the foundations of interpersonal relationships and transforming the carefree sex act into a potentially lethal activity. This extraordinary revelation explains much about the characters and their motivations, particularly Marsillach's odd, low-key response to the horrific murders.
OPERA contains some of Argento's finest set-pieces, especially the infamous 'keyhole' sequence (referenced by John Woo in HARD TARGET , a hundred times less effectively) which forms the breathtaking centrepiece of a terrifying scene in which Marsillach is stalked through her unlit apartment by the maniac. Though inevitably reduced on the small screen, the director's bravura technique remains wholly intact, though an early sequence in which a number of ravens are abused by the killer looks uncomfortably realistic.