Let me begin this review by stating that I am in no way an aficionado of 'Phantom of the Opera' movies. I have only ever seen the 1925 version and this late eighties release, starring Robert Englund and Jill Schoelen. While I can already hear the cries of "blasphemy" and "you aren't a real horror fan", I have to admit to liking Robert Englund's portrayal of The Phantom more than Lon Chaney's. While Chaney's was chilling, Englund gives the character more of a tragic angle, before layering on the evil.
Christine is a young Broadway singer who is auditioning for a show in New York. She comes across a piece of music written by Erik Destler, who happened to make a pact with The Devil so that the world would love his music. The downside to this pact was that Erik's face would be horribly disfigured for eternity. As soon as Christine sings the piece of music, she is transported to London in 1881, where she is the star of the London opera house. It is there that she is taken under the wing of a mysterious cloaked figure who will do anything, including kill, to make Christine the star of the opera.
I have always been a fan of this movie, and had no idea it was frowned upon so much until checking what others had written about the film online. While the plot does take some liberties with the Gaston Leroux's story and stretches things a little too far sometimes, Englund's Destler is pure evil, and is a role that Englund seems to enjoy portraying. Maybe that was because he got to flex his acting muscles a little more than he did when he played Krueger, but I can only speculate on that.
The film is certainly not a remake in any respect, becoming a full-blown slasher and relishing in it's murder and the obsession of Erik Destler, as well as having an involving story that keeps you interested when the blood isn't flying on-screen.
If there was one problem with 'The Phantom of the Opera', it would be that it can be quite difficult to separate the character of Erik Destler from that of Freddy Krueger. The marketing for the film didn't help with this fact, relishing the fact that the man that played Freddy Krueger is playing the Phantom. Englund's performance soon makes you forget Freddy though, and it is only near the end of the movie, that you are reminded of the dream demon once more.
If you can't stomach a musical, and have seen the 1925 'The Phantom of the Opera' numerous times, this is certainly worth a look, and may just end up being one of your favourite movies, as it is for me, ever since I saw it in the mid-nineties.
The transfer is good, although some scenes in the first half are rather grainy, but this just adds to the gothic effect of the film in my opinion, although it is made all the more noticeable by the second half of the film being much more clear.